This was our first time in Morocco and we could not have been more excited to explore Marrakech. I didn’t quite know what to expect, I had heard so many incredible stories and read about the city and it’s vibrant culture online. As soon as we arrived we both realised it’s a city of bursting colours, Berber, Moorish and Arabic culture – and great orange juice.
On the first evening, we had dinner at the Pepe Nero Restaurant. We enjoyed the ambience, our tagines and a variety of salads. However, the most memorable part of this restaurant for me was the beautiful pool and the rose fountain. Wake up and smell the roses!
Beautiful hand painted doors at Pepe Nero
LA MAISON ARABE
The next morning we had a La Maison Arabe cooking workshop for half a day. If you’re interested, you can read about it here.
The third day we spent exploring the kaleidoscopic souks in the medina.
The further in you venture the more interesting they become so don’t worry about getting lost – it’s part of the fun!
You will very quickly develop a sixth sense for keeping yourself safe from the chaotic traffic, bicycles and mule-drawn carts filled with vegetables and fruit.
Spend your dirhams in the souks – it’s full of treasures! You can find pretty much anything there. Every section of the souks has its own speciality: babouches, cotton, clothing and kaftans; hats, baskets and bags; cooked snails, oriental spices and local sweet treats; carpets and blankets; even magic supplies are available. We got ourselves some sequined beach totes and a carpet that we have truly loved in our home. Rizwan thrives when he gets to haggle and joke around so it was fun shopping that way.
mules, motorbikes, medina mayhem & sensory overload
leather, spices & mint tea
mountains, pink alleyways & snake charmers
music, drumming & haggling
GOOD TO KNOW
Location: Morocco is located on the westernmost tip of north Africa, and Marrakech lies in Morocco’s southwestern region, within sight of the High Atlas.
Language: Arabic is the official language, but many people speak Amazigh (Berber language) and French. English is increasingly spoken in tourist areas.
Climate: Marrakech has a dry climate with hot summers and cool winters. The best time for visiting is between March and June and from September to December. There is usually snow on the High Atlas from December to April/ May.
Culture: Marrakech remains a mostly Islamic society but it is also one of the most liberal and cosmopolitan cities in the Middle East.
Agree on the taxi fare before entering a petit taxi.
Stay at a Riad. Take pictures of hard to remember alleys.
Drink lots of mint tea!! Don’t forget that tea is not just about drink, tea time is a way to socialise, make friends and talk!
Feed the cats – every street you walk down you see cats resting in the shade, a cute kitten or a lone cat sneaking around the corner, and the cats are genuine Marrakechi locals.
Take pictures of snakes/ monkeys/ dancers/water sellers, unless you are prepared to pay.
Do not panic when you get lost in the souks (and keep a sense of humour).
Wear revealing clothing, Morocco is very conservative country and it is important to respect that.
We also visited Jardin Majorelle, the former home and gardens of the designer Yves Saint Laurent. What a contrast of colours – palm trees, cactus, striking lemon yellow and cobalt blue (now also named Majorelle Blue), there is even a YSL nail polish named after it.
After a relaxing stroll through the gardens, we lingered inside the cafe for lovely and cooling smoothies.There is also a small, but a stunning museum with Berber jewellery and Yves Saint Laurent’s Galerie Love.
BEN YOUSSEF MEDERSA – A QURANIC SCHOOL
The Ben Youssef Medersa, a Quranic school, dedicated to the teaching of Islamic scripture and law, was founded in the 14th century, then enlarged in the 16th century. The five colour Zellij mosaic walls, stucco archways and carved cedar wood are only part of the incredible architecture. I could have stayed there for the entire day studying all the details and taking pictures.
The student chambers, some without windows, and over 100 of them were still in use as recently as 1962.
Marrakech is an incredible destination. At times, it overloaded my senses, but it was a city where I felt out of my element and I was truly somewhere new and different. I loved that feeling and everything else about Marrakech