Living in London, Europe is of course a short train or plane ride away – but so is the majestic beauty of North Africa. I went on this couples trip in February 2014, and it was cultural, it was eye opening and it was fun!
I had wanted to stay in the Medina, as I love medieval towns, (it is also a UNESCO World Heritage site), with maze like alleyways and history on every corner. This Riad came highly recommended on Trip Advisor, and for good reason. It was a beautiful oasis in the middle of the chaotic Media, with a lovey room, fabulous service, delicious tagine and offered beer and wine, which can be sometimes hard to find. They also were very helpful when it came to excursion tips and guides.
Medina Walking Tour
While staying in the Medina, it only seemed fitting to get a personal account of it’s ins and outs, characters and stories. After missing our pick up time for our previously organised tour, our Riad hooked us up with a guide who seemed to be everyones homie. He took us thorugh the Medina, through the souks and tanneries, shaking everyones hand along the way.
This place is a big attraction, with it’s main claim to fame being that is was previously owned by Yves Saint Laurent. You can walk amongst the gardens, designed in the 1920s and 30s, full of flora taken from five continents. Yves Saint Laurent even has his ashes at this beautiful site.
Camel Rides in the Palmerie
The Palmerie is an odd place in the city. It is a desert like suburb full of random Palm Trees and mansions. Somehow it is also a popular spot to ride a camel wearing a provided smock and head scarf (to feel like a local?). Yes it was cheesy.
Jemaa el-Fnaa Square
This is the main square of Marrakesh, with restaurants, stalls, artists and hustlers. Keep your wits about you so you don’t get conned by the henna women trying to over charge you (they tried it on me). This is a hustling bustling area, where you really feel like you are in the thick of it.
Atlas Mountain Day Trip
If you have the time, it is highly recommended to take a day trip to see the beauty which are the snow covered Atlas Mountains, and to experience the Berber way of life. The scenery is exquisite, and the mint tea is delicious.
This 19th century palace is easily accessible, as it is in the Media. It was intended to be the greatest palace of it’s time, and it does have beautiful mosaics with Morrocan and Islamic details.
This giant tourit strap enterprise came highly recommended by a friend. Checking Trip Advisor before was a bad idea, because the reviews were less than favourable, so I wasn’t exactly looking forward to it. If you are open to a completely ridiculous experience, then it is actually not a bad time. From the minute you step out of your tour bus, into a giant parking lot of tour buses, and glance at the palatial grounds, you feel like you may be getting conned. You arrive and these two women dressed in over the top traditional garb essentially force you to take a photo with them (to purchase on your exit of course). Then you watch a parade of performers, probably around 20 – 30 groups, have a procession. Then you are placed in a dinning room, one of 25 (all which were full!), where you eat and each performer comes to your table, personally, to have you dance with them, take a photo, and of course, get a tip. After this exhausting agenda, you are ushered to the horse grounds, where you watch men gallop down a field shooting guns. For better or for worse, it is an experience I will never forget and the tagine was actually the best part of all.
Whilst I would always recommend eating local food, and for the most part that is what we did, there were signs for this place all over the Medina, so on our final night we discovered this Italian restaurant. The interior has gorgeous courtyards and fountains, so if anything, go for the beautiful décor. The food is also beautiful served, well thought out and excellent service.