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Djemaa el Fna ( Marrakech )

A recognized UNESCO site, Djemaa el Fna is said to be the heart and soul of Marrakech. At the signal of sunset, this mysterious and mesmerizing place truly comes alive. Snake charmers fiddle flirtatiously with their cobras, fire swallowers eat fire, storytellers entertain big crowds, fortune tellers mesmerize tourists with tall tales and the rhythms of African and Arabic sounds hypnotize the crowds amongst the colorful clouds of cooking smoke decorating the air with mingled aromas of mint, cilantro, cumin, and turmeric. The square is transformed into a magical medieval styled circus.

Give your taste buds an authentic Moroccan experience and head to the food stalls grilling meat on braziers, smoking fish, and selling exotic Moroccan foods. If you want a quick treat you can try Morocco's popular stewed snails. Grab a tooth pick and dig in. Feeling especially brave? Try some stuffed spleen or a sheep's head showing the eyes. Wash it down with Khendenjal, a spicy nut-based aphrodisiac.

For some, the atmosphere of Djemaa el Fna can be a little overwhelming. If you think you want to see Djemaa at night but escape after an hour or two, make dinner reservations at Riad Enija (one of the old mansions of the Moroccan bourgeoisie). Inside you are met with the smell of rose petals, a decor of high ceilings, and arched walls and floors decorated with yellow mosaics called zeligs. Dine on the patio underneath the stars.

There are other fun activities that do not run as late into the night as the Djemaa scene or are as elaborate as dining in the Riad. Examples include shopping the souks or visiting the art galleries, seeing a show at the Theater Royal, or exploring the Mellah, the old Jewish ghetto. With the exception of the Theater Royal, most of these are options until about 8pm. If this hour is too early to call it a night, find a restaurant serving tanji, a trademark Marrakech beef dish or enter Nouzhat Ennofous. There you can enjoy herbal infusions or get pampered in with an hour long aromatic whole body massage.

If you have your mind set on partying, you can gamble at the Grand Casino of the upscale Hotel La Mamoin, or dance the night away at local discos in the district of Gueliz. (In Morocco, keep in mind that a disco is the word for a western club, and club the place to view cabarets). Many discos play westernized pop. Also, females should go in groups, preferably with males.

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