Magical Marrakesh Medina
“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.
PHOTO: Marrakesh Medina
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.
Possibly take a guide for your first visit, you will find them in the square. However, you do not need a guide and use your Google Maps to navigate. Buy a local SIM card at the airport when you arrive.
Start at the main square of Jemaa El Fna. Our fabulous guide took us deep into the Medina and we would never have found the secret little alleyways and souks on our own on our first visit. 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 Mr Diva. It isn’t the done thing to wear a mans robe such as the one Im sporting above!
PHOTO: Marrakesh 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.
PHOTO: 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! Many of my silk Kaftans come from here.
PHOTO: Marrakesh Medina. The colourful souk
Escape from the tourists very quickly. They tend to stick to the main thorough fare! We are travellers not tourists remember!
PHOTO: Marrakesh Medina, Donkeys everywhere
Bikes and donkeys add to the hustle and bustle, stay alert so you do not get in the way!
PHOTO: Hammam in Marrakesh 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!
PHOTO: La Famille Marrakesh Restaurant in Marrakesg Medina
The salad was one of the best I have ever eaten, served with vegan Pizzetta.
PHOTO: Lunch at La Familla, Marrakesh
Then 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! Click on my booking.com link to find some Riads.
Dress: Wear whatever you like in Morocco, it is a very tolerant country. However, you will feel more comfortable if you dress conservatively if you are alone.
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. I like the Easyjet flight from Nice to Marrakesh if I am in the South of France.
If you want to explore more of this beautiful country here are some of my blog links: