Jemaa El-Fnaa Market is a square & market place in the old city or Medina of Marrakech, used by locals & tourists.
During the day it’s mostly fresh juice stalls, merchants with traditional leather bags, jewelry & brass cups, youths trying to get you to pay for photos with monkeys & then there are the snake charmers. There are plenty of small cafes & restaurants to have a meal or Moroccan Mint Tea.
As the day progresses, the entertainment changes: late in the day the square becomes more crowded, with dancing/acrobatic boys (it would be against custom for girls to provide such entertainment), storytellers telling their tales in Berber or Arabic, magicians, and peddlers of traditional medicines or Argan oil lotions & such.
The souks with the spices & fruit are beautiful in their gorgeous colours & smells!
As darkness falls, the square fills with dozens of food stalls as the number of people on the square peaks. Steam rising from food stalls greets you, as do the greeters trying to invite you over for a meal.
The square is edged along one side by the Marrakesh souk, a traditional North African market: both for the common daily needs of the locals & for the tourists looking for something to take home with them.
On other sides are hotels, gardens & café terraces, narrow streets lead into the alleys of the medina quarter.
The square is so busy that you must watch as you go, for mopeds rush past at breakneck speeds! There are carts, pulled by donkeys, loaded down with fresh bread or fresh produce.
If you want to go into the alleyways we suggest one or two things: 1) Ask your Riad or hotel to find you a guide. You’ll pay them a little to help you not get lost & they’ll take you to what you ask to see. 2) If you don’t want a guide, always look like you know what you’re doing – if you don’t, some troublemakers take note & may try to pickpocket you or otherwise bully you into paying them some money. We chose a guide & had no trouble. Our friends went it alone, and did have a bit of an issue.
The best view of the market will be from a restaurant rooftop patio. We suggest https www.zeitouncafe.com You can enjoy the craziness from the comfort up above! You can hear the entertainment + the Calls to Prayer. Take a peek at our video here: https://youtu.be/xqKpYCBXhWQ
While in Morocco, we’ve got many events & activities planned & most had the same thing in common… the pickup each morning by the companies was at the El Fenn. We decided we should know where this is prior to going so went searching… we didn’t have far to go as it’s right around the corner from our own Riad.
We’ve learned to not assume anything from the front of a building here in Marrakech – some entrances are a huge wooden door in the middle of a stone wall, others are glass, but once you go inside, it’s usually quite something else. El Fenn was the most surprising yet.
The colours & art were bright & beautiful with an African feel. There was beautiful clothing, footwear, there was decor & jewelry, furniture & even a cool brass moped with a cowhide seat! Giant vases in a cerulean blue, lanterns upon lanterns lit up every corner, and brightly coloured bunting hung throughout the lobby. There was an amazing display of colourfully painted full-size branches in vases.
Then there was the stairway up to the rooftop… a shiny, red corkscrew of a staircase that lead up to a beautiful patio with stunning views of Marrakech & two of its spectacular mosques.
The lanterns swing in the breeze, there’s lots of plants & trees, comfortable seating, even futons. The tiles that Morocco is famous for did not disappoint here, herringbone green on the floors paired with the brick walls & mirrored bar made for such a lovely spot.
I had a refreshing Red City Rosé Cooler – Rosé wine, fresh strawberry, Triple Sec & sparkling wine – delicious. We were served spiced olives & salted peanuts as a snack.
Dinner was from the bar menu – a Spiced Lamb Burger with Feta & minted raita sauce & also a Red Bean & Mushroom Burger with Cheddar Cheese, both with tasty homemade, fresh cut fries.
We’ve learned that staff are not in a particular hurry in dining establishments, unlike on the streets where it’s rush, rush, rush. We work fast-paced demanding jobs at home so are learning to slow down here & take it easier, to relax & enjoy the moment. We were lucky to have gotten a spot on the patio it seems, as reservations are required for dinner service & we can see why.
We were able to capture tons of photos from inside while we waited, but also of the patio & its brilliant sunset, with the fading light overtop of the exquisitely lit mosques, where you can hear the Call to Prayer echoing.
We’d like to make a reservation for dinner at some point during our stay & see what the dinner menu & seating elsewhere upstairs will bring.
If you’re looking for a fantastic girls’ day out – I would highly suggest Downtown Chilliwack but first making reservations at Fortitude Wine Bar for 2pm (you’ll see why, keep reading).
Start out with an early 9 am breakfast at Cultivate Cafe at Minter Country Gardens. Enjoy a leisurely, scrumptious meal made by the talented Chef Cam & served by his adorable wife, Peggy. They’ve even got delicious baked goods or frozen soups to take home with you. I’ll always recommend the Eggs Benny – the. best.
Make a quick right out the door of the cafe into Minters & see all the lovely plants, flowers & gift items on your way into Marais Tea, also in Minters. The loose leaf teas are so fresh & there is something for everyone. They carry delectable chocolate as well.
Next, shop in all of the wonderful stores in the area such as Classic Home Decor & Boutique (so worth the extra minute to go to Alexander Avenue for the clothing, purses, art, decor & furniture that Barb has specifically chosen), then Circa Vintage on Main Street(we could wander among the vintage lovelies & chat with Darby all day!), The Button Box(the girls here are fun & their carefully curated decor & clothing pieces are so good), Pick Eco(it smells divine & they’re always at the ready with ways we can all become more ecologically conscious), also Fraser & Co.(this is an adorable store with gently used & new fashions), and Marion’s Dressing Room(vintage clothing to swoon over)on Mill Street, Lolly’s Fashion Lounge (fashion forward pieces + Matt & Nat purses & other accessories) on Wellington Avenue, also Creekside Chilliwack(beautiful country chic decor), Batiqua(handwoven baskets & decor), The Bookman(the best selection of new & used books, even some collectibles), Mary’s on Wellington(luxury underwear & pjs), Payton & Buckle(shoes, shoes, shoes & purses), The Veganist(a little grocer with tasty alternative choices in food & other products, including gluten & dairy free items), and Pink n Blue Kidz(new & gently used kids’ clothing). Magnolia & Oak(fashionable women’s wear, shoes & accessories – we’ve spent a LOT of time here!), The Local Space(some fun & saucy gift items, clothing, skincare, accessories, all locally, Canadian-made), Hunni’s(lovely women’s wear, including hats & accessories), Spruce Collective(clothing, puzzles, art, cards, candles, kitchenware & more) & The Chwk Store (good quality Chilliwack branded clothing, mugs, stickers, etc) are all in District 1881 on Yale Road.
If you’re looking for premium hair products & services, then stop in at Michael’s on Main, they’re award winning & have been 74 years in business, they carry Kevin Murphy, L’anza, AG hair products, DesignMe, Kenra, Mighty Moose Beard Oils & Balms, and Morocanoil haircare.
Really beautiful lashes & brows are crafted at Voila Lash Lounge, the best coffee or tea is right next door at Smoking Gun Coffee, again on Yale Road. They’ve got their own roasted blends for you to take home & treats to go with it.
If you’re into thrifting, there’s some great little stops on Main Street(the Hospital Auxiliary), Kipp Street(MCC), and a few on Wellington Avenue (Unique Thrifting has 2 spots) that are fun to wander around in & make it easy to upcycle clothing or home goods at a fair price, each of these locations give back to their community in big ways.
Now that you’ve shopped till you dropped, you’ll be glad you reserved at Fortitude Wine Bar to end the afternoon on a relaxing, delicious high note.
An absolute gem in the heart of @downtownchwk in @district1881 is @fortitudewinebar
The atmosphere is classy yet comfortable. The walls are a chic, matte navy blue with hints of green velvet on the banquets & gold accents in the lighting.
The wine or bubbles flights are served on wooden boards as is the charcuterie, that gives that rustic texture.
The appetizers were fresh & delicious from the escargot, to the chef’s board, from the Caprese salad, and the meatballs to the Bruschetta or the blue cheese stuffed dates.
Two of us enjoyed a crisp, delicious Prosecco while the others tried wine flights with some they loved and one not so much. But the excellent servers were helpful in finding another wine to try instead & that one was a hit.
The service was excellent, the pricing was fair & the total atmosphere of wandering along from Main Street and down Yale Road to our destination was just right.
It was easy to sit, visit & carry on conversations while overlooking the new additions to the neighbourhood. Downtown Chilliwack has been working hard to revitalize the businesses, from touching up or refurbishing the historic buildings, being conscientious of our yesteryear when building new ones, also improving the walkability(including parking), and for your viewing pleasure – notice the gorgeous murals found on many walls & most nooks & crannies. Each with a plaque to explain their origin & the artist that created them.
The breeze in my hair, the billow of flags & bunting, the chatter & laughter of long weekenders… the clink of my Hazelnut Espresso Cold Brew tumbler to my husband’s Chardonnay glass while watching sea vessels of all kinds sail past us at La Conner Seafood & Prime Rib House.
We had wandered by a few eateries on our way through town but this one had great views & lots of seating, so after about a 10 minute wait, we were seated on the harbour-side outdoor patio. Staff were friendly & chatty, also quick to bring water, without being asked & our food came quickly as well.
My husband ordered the 2 piece cod & chips & I decided on the crispy cod sandwich with chips & coleslaw. The batter was just enough, the coleslaw was fresh & crunchy, the chips were hot & there was malt vinegar, a sign of a chef who gets it.
It was so nice to sit, enjoy the view, talk about what we’d seen along the way so far & hear the waves beneath our feet, as the restaurant is literally built over the water. Lots of other people were walking, some with their dogs, along the boardwalk or out & about with their babies in strollers to take advantage of the dog days of Summer.
The prices were reasonable & the servings were a good size. There’s a drink menu & wine list with many selections + the food menu has a lot of choice. The patio had plenty of seating, or you could sit at the bar inside, there’s more seating with comfortable soft armchairs indoors, along with more family-style tables. This venue could easily host your family birthdays, or get togethers with a few friends.
As you drive into La Conner, on the corner of First & Morris Streets, you can’t miss a two-storey antique store with the tattoo-ish looking signs letting you know you’ve arrived at Nasty Jacks Antiques.
Each time we visit we have to wander through the two floors of collections to see what they’ve found since our last stopover.
From the glass bottle collection, to their HUGE selection of Time magazines & comic books, to china & silverware, the heavy antique furnishings (my favourites are always the old roll top desks & library card file cabinets… oh! and the old typewriters!), to the many, many pieces of art… there is something here to intrigue you for sure.
Before you even go inside, there’s an All Knowing Zoltar fortune telling machine – that works! Next to it is one of those penny press machines that stamps your penny with a local design.
There’s some really cool handblown glass buoys, tons of old keys, record albums, copious amounts of Mad magazines, jewelry – both costume & real, quite a lot of antique looking yet modern signs (Route 66, Chevrolet, gas station logos, etc), antique clocks, and well, you just really need to see the rest for yourself.