April and its Morocco Time. Rabat Vibrant yet Gentle.
I have been coming to Rabat since I was just a child staying with family in a lovely villa. Rabat itself was of no particular interest. I was more fascinated with Marrakesh CasablancaFez and Tangiers.But I have been missing out. In the last few years it has gone through a wonderful transformation. Or so it seems.
The old part of the medinais undergoing a refurbishment as are many places of interest. I simply fell in love with the gentle buzz, the café culture the heavily laden orange tress on the avenues. The pottery market. It really was an eye opener seeing Rabatthrough different eyes.
I discovered that Moroccan cuisine is super healthy, steamed with loads of vegetables and proteins and little carbs. I seemed to spend my time eating shopping, eating! I lived on well chilled freshly squeezed mandarin juice. It was just so tasty and actually tasted of mandarins.
One of my favourite places was Chellah a medieval necropolis fort with heavenly gardens and a superb remains from several periods. I found it really calm and beautiful. There is an entrance fee of 10 dirham’s about a euro but its well worth a visit.
I spent a lot of time in the souksinvariably ending in the Rue de Consulwhich is the touristy bit that has loads of stalls selling carpets, cotton kaftans, woodcraftand some pottery. Thee is a whole refurbishment programme going on and when its completed it will look sensational with wooden carved doors and intricate overhead covers to shield you from the elements. I have to confess I tended to stray to the local area which is noisy colourful haphazard but had many of the same things that the touristy section had at lower prices if you bargained well. I loved the spice market and the vegetable market where the smells and colours were just so enticing. I bought cinnamon Cumin seeds and Rose buds which are great for tea and flavourings
Naturally I bought Argan oil. I found the best brand to beLes Sens de Marrakech which are beautifully packaged
I also went to Ouliga in Sale, a pottery centre where there are many different shops selling pottery from inexpensive salt and pepper holders to more extravagant table water. There are 4 areas well known for pottery Safi, Fez,Meknesand Sale near Rabat . I went several times as it was fascinating to talk to the shop owners and learn about the very distinct patterns from different regions. Needles to say I bought lots of stuff from bowls to dinner plates to cooking tagines.
Rabat I found was a very gentle place with its mixtures of wide orange laden avenues to hustle and bustle inside the medina. It has this curious charm of the old and the sophisticated but in a very easy manner.
One evening we went and had cocktails at the View hotel where there is lovely cocktail bar with great music and views over Rabat. Another time I had tea in the gardens of the Sofitel Jardin des Rosesone of the oldest hotels in Rabat formerly a Hilton near the Royal palace
An absolute must is the Kasbah of Oudaya, a walled city from the 12c century which is UNESCOheritage site. A city within a city holding some of Rabat’s oldest buildings. Lots of art galleries and cafes in winding streets . Its really really pretty and I could have easily spent a day just meandering about sipping drinks in the various cafes and terraces.
No trip to Moroccois complete without a Hamam.A steam bath where you are scrubbed with all sorts of natural unguents then slathered with Argan oil. The ME spa a gorgeous villa surrounded by palms was my go to place. Great treatments, peaceful and tranquil.
I have to say Rabat has just continually surprised me with a all the great things it has to offer as I never thought of it as a particularly interesting place. But I was wrong!
About Mona Moments
My Mona Moments are my often happy experiences while I am travelling. I am curious. I like to stick my nose into everything and almost try everything. With years and year of travelling all over the world from seemingly random places like the San Blas Islands or sipping tea while freezing in Darjeeling my travels have made me a inquisitive traveller.
I would love it if you come across a hotel, restaurant or café experience that you loved anywhere in the world and tell me about it. In the mean time, I hope you enjoy the stories I share.