“Marie, why are you going to Marrakesh? You will hate it! It isn’t your kind of place. ” So said some of my friends. Well, they were wrong! I loved it. It was a great experience and I will be back to explore more of Morocco.
My trip was short so I will tell you about the places that I enjoyed and recommend. The first surprise was the fabulous, new airport, a modern International airport with great shops. I was disappointed with the Air Maroc business lounge but everything else was perfect.
The second surprise was the size of Marrakesh,it is BIG and it is impossible to walk everywhere. This blog will concentrate on the day I spent at the Medina and give you some recommendations if you are planning a visit.
Wearing my new robe co-ordinated with Louis Vuitton bag!
Third surprise was the people! Everyone is friendly and it is a very tolerant society with people from different cultures and religions getting along. I had been warned to expect ‘hassle’ from Souk vendors but this was not the case. Maybe because we were with a local guide but it was totally stress free.
Update: I wrote this blog after my first visit to Morocco. Now, after my third visit, I would recommend experiencing live in a Riad at least once, become a local for a day or two! There are so many to choose from cheap and cheerful to expensive. You will be perfectly safe wandering around alone, I do, people are friendly and welcoming.
Start at the main square of Jemaa El Fna. I would definitely take a guide. Our fabulous guide took us deep into the Medina and we would never have found the secret little alleyways and souks on our own. I couldn’t resist the spices, dates and herbs. I bought some traditional robes too. I caused a great deal of merriment by wearing the robe I bought for Stephen. It isn’t the done thing to wear a mans robe such as the one Im sporting above!
The Medina was a treasure trove of spices and herbs
The tiny alleyways are packed full of locals riding their motorbikes, weaving in and out of people walking, so many donkeys laden with goods. The atmosphere is very special! The Medina of Marrakesh is a UNESCO World Heritage Centre and rightly so! Marrakesh was founded in 1070-1072 by The Almoravids and has outstanding monuments dating from that period including the Koutoubiya Mosque, The Kasbah, The Battlements, doors and gardens. Later additions include Bandia Palace, the Saadian tombs and Place Jamaa El Fna, which is a huge square and gathering place for locals today.
Shopping in the Souk, foodie heaven
So, spend the morning exporing the Souk. I bet you can’t resist buying some delicious dates or spices, they are so cheap, fresh and delicious. My suitcase was definitely heavier on the way home. Make sure you stop for a delicious glass of mint tea. It is ubiquitous so will be easy to find! The sugar content will make your head spin but it is so good.
Update: I have discovered some amazingly good clothes designers and tailors in the Souk, there is a special area where they all have shops. The workmanship and quality are first class. Get something gorgeous designed just for you!
The colourful souk
Make sure your guide takes you deep into the Medina away from the tourists.
Bikes and donkeys add to the hustle and bustle.
Hammam in the Medina
Time was short this trip but next visit to Marrakesh, I will make time for a Hammam!
Charming little restaurants hide down alleyways and behind beautiful doors! We lunched at La Famille, Marrakesh and ate a delicious vegan lunch made with delicious fresh produce. Recommended if you like healthy vegan food!
La Famille Marrakesh
The salad was one of the best I have ever eaten, served with vegan Pizzetta.
Lunch at La Familla, Marrakesh
After lunch we drove to the magnificent Marjorelle Gardens the beautiful garden that belonged to Yves Saint Laurent. See my separate blog all about the wonderful afternoon!
Restaurant: La Familla, 42 Riad Zitoun idid Marrakesh Medina near palais Bahia Tel: 00212524385295
Majorelle Garden http://www.jardinmjorelle.com
I have stayed in a few different Riads now, choose one close by the centre because you will walk a long way!
Dress: Wear whatever you like in Morocco, it is a very tolerant country.
Best Hotels in Marrakesh. If you stay in the city, my top recommendation would be La Mamounia Hotel http://www.mamounia.com An incredible hotel, read my Marrakesh hotels blog
Flights from London are very inexpensive. Easy jet, Ryanair and British Airways all fly to Marrakesh