“Marrakech is alluring and mesmerizing: a former imperial city in Morocco is a must-see travel destination”
After a 3.5 hour flight from the UK, including a lengthy queue on arrival at passport control, we had made it to Marrakech. Upon arrival, we thought the taxi driver had taken us to a very questionable back alley in the middle of this crazy little place we had never been but alas, a 2-minute walk around the local walkways we arrived at our Beautiful Riad. Once loaded on Gunpowder Tea (Mint Tea with sprigs of spearmint and LOTS of sugar) we dropped our luggage off and made headway (not before picking up a valuable street map from the Riad) making a beeline for Jemaa el-Fna. A short 10-minute walk and we arrived at what we can only describe as an open-air theatre in progress…
From the blaring sounds of the snake charmers tunes, street sellers chanting their goods to passers-by, and the faint smell of char grill from the 50+ food stalls vacant from the previous night’s workings. You will be charged in minutes! We went straight for the souks and with alleyways upon alleyways, it wouldn’t take much to get lost. But we must stress.. be careful of the hustling locals, they will try their luck and will take you to all kinds of places in return for a ‘tip’.
One popular scam is taking you to one of their family members’ shop where upon arrival you may feel pressured to make a purchase before leaving. While we were walking around we had one local trying to divert us on our stroll claiming there was a mosque ahead and we were not allowed to go any further, using our better judgment we went ahead and… no mosque in sight! Before heading to Marrakesh we read up on the scams that are rife here, so be on the cautious side when out and about in the Medina. But don’t let this put you off, we found it only added character to the madness!
Marrakech and the old city…
After spending most of the morning wandering and getting lost in the souks, we headed for Jemaa el-Fna for a much-needed sit down, drink and bite to eat. You are spoilt for choice for cafes and restaurants, popular choices are the those which have a balcony/terrace overlooking the square. You could spend hours just sat sipping an ice-cold drink and watching the organized chaos below. Once lunch was finished we headed south of Jemaa el-Fna in search of the Bahia Palace. After getting lost again (seems to be a common theme appearing here) we finally, with a bit of luck and a lot of perseverance found our destination.
We paid our very reasonable 10 Dirham entrance fee and walked through into the gardens full of fruit trees and old timely ornaments and a gorgeous water fountain leading up to the Palace. Once inside you will go through some amazing rooms while being empty of contents you can’t help notice the attention to detail of the building itself. We would highly recommend getting a guide (with such rich history and there being no other means of learning this yourself while there, it is definitely worth the money). We found going there in the late afternoon (or early morning) was best after the midday heat and not so many people around.
Marrakech and the new city…
Our second day started with, to be honest, the best breakfast we’ve ever had on our travels! Spoilt with local fruit, muesli, locally made yogurt, and a whole range of Moroccan delicacies. After our morning feast breakfast, we were ready for anything, and by anything we mean the scenic beauty that is Jardin Majorelle located along with Rue Yves Saint Laurent. With over 300 species of desert plants and bamboo separated by-path ways and ponds where you will spot the odd turtle or two, You will be spoilt with vibrant colors and a bit of tranquility away from all the hustle and bustle. Also worth a mention to be on the lookout while walking around, keep an eye out for pretty little flower designs imprinted in the cemented paths or the mysterious writing sketched onto some of the cacti and of course the memorial garden of Yves Saint Laurent who actually bought the gardens and gifted it back to the locals in order for them and tourists alike to still come and appreciate this little gem. Here you will also find the Berber Art Museum, a quaint (marginally overpriced) little gift shop, art deco studio where you can see anything from Jewels, local traditional dresses, a huge array of artifacts and lots more to see in these gardens, so make sure if you are heading here make an afternoon of it, you won’t find any place better to shade you from the intense mid-afternoon Moroccan heat!!
So it was our last night and we were surprisingly used to all the madness that had become our home for the last 2 days, but like most things it was slowly coming to an end and we did not want to leave until we had gone to a restaurant highly recommended to us by some locals we met briefly at the start of this trip, with our glad rags on we headed for Café Arabe. Located in the Medina of Marrakech, and being only one of very few places you can get an alcoholic beverage (only paid 16€ for a bloody good bottle of rosé!) one step onto their rooftop terrace you will understand why we felt it worthy of a mention. Here you will find the best seat to the Medina ‘theatre’ and watching the sunset with some fantastic food and a great atmosphere made splurging that little bit more worthwhile, also worth a mention the mister’s felt fab!
Before we knew it our time in Marrakech had come to an end and we were homeward bound, and what 48 hours it had been. If you ever thought about Morocco but never quite get round to it, we highly recommend adding it to your travel plans!