My beautiful friend and I travelled to Morocco with very little knowledge about what to expect, other than a few tips from friends and an insider guide. I am not sure either really prepared us for what was in store for us when we arrived. We took an empty suitcase with us, which we planned on filling with hippy-chic souvenirs and spices. We were staying at the foothills of the majestic Atlas Mountains, half an hour away by car from the Central Medina of Marrakech. This place was a complete oasis and total contrast from the bustling streets of the souks of Marrakech. One which we found to be perfect for our needs and some much-needed down time after each day of exploring.
Our visit to Morocco was set to be a mini adventure for us both and somewhere that neither of us had been to previously. I can’t recommend this beautiful country highly enough. When I sat down to write about our experience of this wonderful place, I found my writing to be as frenetic as the streets of the souks. Wild, noisy and full of emotion. I have tamed some of it, within these few paragraphs, but some remains.
The sights and sounds of the city are all something to gaze at in sheer wonder. From Market traders selling their wares and bartering over ‘your best and final price’, peacocks, snakes, lizards and donkeys adorning the streets, to street food ranging from sheep’s heads to delicate orange blossom doused pastries. This place was like nowhere that I have ever been. The energy and vibrancy of this city vibrates through your body into your soul. You can’t help but take a piece of Marrakech home in your heart with you when you return.
So, as unprepared as we were, here are our favourite experiences of the mere 72 hours we were in Morocco, and a few ‘must do’ hints for any of you lovely people considering a trip.
- Visit the souks of the central medina! Marrakech has long been a hub of fashion and rivals the streets of Hong Kong and New York. Designers and Fashion Icons have frequented these streets and souks for years, gaining inspiration from the many colours and sounds of the souks. Top tip: Take a few empty cotton totes with you to carry your wares. And use a bum bag for your money! Much easier than dipping into a handbag every 5 minutes!
- Barter! If you are feeling brave enough to have a go at bartering, always do it with a smile on your face and be polite. Have an idea of your maximum price and start by halving that. Don’t start bartering unless you are genuinely interested in buying as that is poor etiquette. Top tip – you will always get a better deal if you buy more than one!
- Try on the leather babouches! They are like slipping your feet into silk. So, soft and so comfortable. I came away with some!
- Find a seat in a restaurant above ‘Jemaa el Fna’ and watch the sun go down over the square. It is breath-taking. One sight that I think everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime. Top Tip: Get there around 6 ish to get a good spot and order a tagine and mint tea. Enjoy it slowly whilst watching the traders set up for a night of amazing street food and music.
- Stay in ‘Jemaa el Fna’ for the evening and explore all the culinary delights this melting pot has on offer. Top Tip: Watch out for pickpockets and keep your loose change handy for any great photo opportunities.
- Go to the Yves Saint Laurent Museum. Just go!
- Visit the Jardin Majorelle & the Berber Museum for a piece of tranquillity amidst the riot of emotions of the souks. Top tip: Take a camera with lots of battery life as you will want to snap away!
- Visit the secret gardens. Sit and watch the world go by, the vast array of beautiful flora and fauna and birds, whilst sitting in the shade of the most amazing Olive trees.
- Have a Hamman and let the stresses of the past few months soak away with the bubbles. Top tip: Take a spare change of underwear!
- Never decline a mint tea! Its considered rude to do so and it tastes too good to refuse!
- GO BACK. Again, and again and again! I shall.
I found Marrakech to be evocative, frenetic, a sultry assault on all my senses, and a place that I will visit time and time again. Until next time Marrakech, ‘ila likaa. fi amen Allah’