When arriving in Marrakech I was initially shocked by the change of culture. How could somewhere so different to the UK exist only a few hours away? It appeared quite intimidating at first. The pavements and alleyways were covered with a sea of roaring motorbikes, busy carts and endless people. There seemed to be no tourists in sight where we were staying; I liked that. I visited Marrakech in April with my mum, who loves to travel just as much as me. After our initial culture shock, we completely fell in love with the colourful city and managed to fit a lot into our short time here.
We stayed in a riad called Riad Miski . It was decorated wonderfully and had a very traditional feel. I’m glad we chose a riad over a more westernised hotel in the newer part of Marrakech.
We were welcomed by a tray of traditional Moroccan mint tea and as soon as we finished this we went to explore. The first place to head for in Marrakech is Jemaa el Fna, the heart and soul of the city. By day the square is a big open space filled with snake charmers and market stalls. I couldn’t resist a glass of fresh orange juice- lovely. It’s at night that this square really comes to life, transforming into a buzzing area filled with storytellers and stalls selling all kinds of food.
The square is over looked by the Koutoubia Mosque, rising from the palm trees to the west. This fabulous tower is nearly 70m high and can be seen for miles. This is a good monument to use for self-orientation. If we ever got lost in the city we could use this as a landmark to find our way back to the main square.
The Koutoubia gardens offer more views of the Koutoubia. The gardens are laid out with water features, palm trees and orange trees. It is hard to believe they are so close to the business of Jemaa el Fna.
Just beside Jemaa el Fna begins the bustling main Souks market area. We were in awe of the beautifully laid out stalls. There were endless lanterns gathered together to create a mystical effect. There were stalls with beautiful fabrics and tiles. Each section was a feast for the eyes. Take your time exploring the Souks, there’s plenty to see and a lot of atmosphere to soak up.
We soaked up some sun on the roof terrace of our riad before enjoying a splendid, traditional Moroccan 3-course meal in the riad. It was the perfect location and we were the only ones there to enjoy it! I immediately fell in love with the Moroccan cuisine, it’s full of colour and flavour.
One of the world’s great gardens and my favourite thing we did in Marrakech, The Majorelle Garden. The gardens were created by the French painter Jacques Majorelle and were famously owned by the designer, Yves Saint Laurent. Walking through the gardens, I was overwhelmed by the beauty and the fantastic pops of colour. Head to the gardens early to avoid the coach loads of people arriving later in the day.
For lunch we headed to a restaurant recommended by our riad. If they hadn’t told us about it, we would never have ventured down the dark grungy alley in which it was situated. I was pleased to see that there were only locals seated there and, I must admit, it was the best meal we had in Marrakech. So good that we returned on our last day. We had the traditional tagine dish, slow cooked until perfectly tender.
In the afternoon we visited Marrakech Museum, which houses fantastic exhibitions of Moroccan art and sculptures. I loved the tiled floors.
We then visited Ben Youssef Medersa, a religious school where students learned the Koran. It was another wonderfully decorated building.
We stumbled upon Herboriste Des Amis, a herb shop where we were introduced to many traditional herbs and spices. I bought some argon oil, massage oil and a deodorant bar.
We headed to the Marrakech Photography Museum which inspired this particular picture of the Souks:
Climb to the top for a refreshing drink and views over the city.
The Atlas mountains! We booked a trip through our riad to explore these mountains. We chose to do a trip with them as we had read reviews claiming the tour was away from the touristy spots, and they were right. We drove along beautiful roads, stopping at numerous spots for photos.
We firstly stopped at a local market. To my delight we got to experience a market completely intended for locals, there was nothing touristy to buy here.
We then visited a place where they made Argon Oil. We were shown how it is produced and introduced to different products. I bought a facial mask. After this we visited a village in the mountains. It was initially difficult to get to as there were a herd of goats blocking the road. I could not see another group of tourists in sight so I felt like it was a unique insight to how mountain villagers live. Here we had lunch in one of the villager’s homes. We sat around a mat on the carpet whilst they served us traditional Moroccan cuisine. This was followed by some mint tea. I couldn’t believe how much sugar they put in it! It must have filled up half the pot at least (tasted good though!).
Lunch was followed by a strenuous but brilliant hike. I was disappointed by the lack of walking before this point, a lot of the tour was based around the vehicle but here we were hiking for a good couple of hours. The views were breathtaking.
We walked to Dar Si Said, a building surrounding beautiful courtyards. That’s one of the great things about Marrakech, many of the attractions are within walking distance of each other. If you stay in the old part of Marrakech you won’t need any transportation at all most days. The only places we required transport for were the Majorelle Gardens and the Atlas Mountains.
Not far from the Dar Si Said is the El Badi where you can walk through the ruins of a palace.
For lunch we headed for Cafe Arabe, a beautifully traditional restaurant. It was hard to find through the Souks but worth looking for. There are three floors in this restaurant. We ate outside in the lower courtyard. Here we met a local lady who claimed this place to be her favourite restaurant in Marrakech.
Having visited everything we wanted to in Marrakech we decided to have a day aimlessly exploring before our flight in the evening. We stumbled upon Souk Cherifa, a haggle-free zone. It was a nice contrast to the traditional Souks which are filled with a never ending flow of people. At Souk Cherifa there was a much more relaxed atmosphere and I found myself buying more there.
I absolutely loved my time in Marrakesh. There was an endless list of things to do; even walking from through the streets was an event in itself. Marrakech is a city filled with colour and atmosphere and is the perfect place to experience a new and interesting culture.