Tuesday, 18 August 2015

DISCOVER MARRAKECH


A couple of months ago my boyfriend and I wanted to go on holiday. We were thinking about going somewhere typically beachy with cocktail bars and a hotel pool, but we decided that actually we wanted to go somewhere a little different with more culture and adventure. Eventually we decided on Marrakech - somewhere I have always wanted to visit purely because my first thought about it was 'amazing Moroccan food and lanterns'. 
I have always loved Moroccan interiors, food and colours and Marrakech seemed like the perfect place to explore all of this further and delve deep into the culture, markets and vibrant atmosphere. I didn't really know what to expect when going there because I hadn't known anyone else apart from my mum visit there before. She told me that she had loved every minute of her trip there the previous year, but that it is a massive culture shock. I haven't really been to many places before that have given me a culture shock because I have mainly visited places that are similar to English culture like LA and Hawaii which are already westernised. I've also been to a few places in Europe like Spain, France and Greece, but these too are filled with lots of English people nowadays and have many English menus in the restaurants. However, I love experiencing different cultures when travelling, and like to get away from the English food, language and way of life. I love immersing myself in other cultures and taking away experiences and memories that will stay with me forever.

So I have decided to put together my 5 'must see/do' things when visiting Marrakech and I hope this will give you a little insight into the city if you're planning on going in the future! Let's get started...

First of all...explore the souks - the souks are like nothing I have really experienced before. They are basically lanes and lanes of market stalls selling everything from food to clothing to beauty products to ornaments, and everything is handmade by the local people. It is very very easy to get lost in the souks because it feels like a maze, and every corner you turn there are more stalls and areas to explore. I must admit it is quite fun to get lost in here, because it means you get to see everything! It's also one of the few areas in Marrakech that is sheltered which is really nice if you want a break from the sun and the heat! I thought I was used to exploring markets - seeing as I've been to Camden market in London many times, and also down the lanes in Brighton, but this is another world. You have to watch out for the mopeds though because they weave in and out of the souks really quickly, but surprisingly they never crash! It's such a fun, vibrant and fast-paced area to see and the colours are so beautiful! I bought some Moroccan plates, a purse and some Moroccan slippers from the souks and I will treasure those forever - the leathers smell amazing and the handcraft is so beautiful. (Top tip: don't be afraid to haggle at the markets, you'd be surprised how much they try it on with the prices because they think they can get away with it, but if you haggle and bargain with them, you can get a much better price!)




Go camel riding - this is one of the most relaxing modes of transport ever! You'd think that camel riding would be really scary and bumpy but it's actually really relaxing. Okay I'd be lying if I said that it wasn't bumpy at all but it's really not as bad as you'd expect! There are lots of camel riding places about, and I'm sure your hotel/riad will have information on how you can book onto this. It's great fun because they dress you in traditional Moroccan clothing before you go out on your ride, and this really helps with sun protection too! Then once you're on the camel it gives you a great chance to take in all of the scenery on the outskirts of the city. It's definitely something everybody should say that they've tried!




Visit the Majorelle Gardens - these are gardens designed by the famous designer Yves Saint Laurent and they are beautiful! I've never seen gardens like these before, they're so colourful and vibrant. It's a lovely place to really unwind and relax, there are many benches dotted around so there's plenty of opportunities to take it all in. You can spend as little or as long in the gardens as you like and there is a lovely cafe inside too! There is a small price to pay to get in but it really is worth every penny. There's also a small museum inside which gives you lots of information about Moroccan fashion through the ages if you're interested in that too!





Go for a Hammam massage - your skin will feel incredible! There are many traditional Moroccan spas dotted around the cities and many of the hotels offer treatments too. We both had a traditional Hammam massage which consisted of a full body scrub and a full body massage. They used traditional Argan oils which have been handmade and these are really kind on the skin and leave it feeling so so soft. The Moroccan women all have beautiful skin at all ages, and they say it's because they use the Argan oil on their hair, face and body every day - this is available to buy in the souks or at the spas! I bought some oils to bring home with me, and I still use them as a hair treatment once a week and on my body and they leave you feeling super soft and your hair really shiny! The oils are also really good for acne, stretch marks and scars which is another reason why I wanted the massage because I suffer from these too. I highly recommend getting a massage because they are totally different to the massages we have in the UK and it's a great way to really unwind on holiday - especially after all the walking you will be doing!


Lastly I would say take a visit to the new town called Guéliz. It's a lot different to the old town of Marrakech and is a lot more modern. This is a nice area to go for some shopping and also see the more updated areas of Marrakech. This will only take around half a day to explore, so I would say in the afternoon to go back and visit the Royal Palace as this building is beautiful and there is a great museum inside which gives you an insight into the history of the royal families.




A few food recommendations:
La Marrakchi - traditional Moroccan cuisine, traditional belly dancing and music entertainment, great sunset viewing from the restaurant, amazing food (couscous and tagines) and located on the main Jammal El Fna square. 
Street food - on the main market square in Marrakech the street food really comes to life after sunset. There are lines and lines of stalls which bring out fresh food and you can take a seat at any of them that you like the look of. They will then bring you out a selection of food and this has such a great atmosphere! You're literally sitting on long benches next to other people whilst your food is being cooked in front of you. This is a must-do!
Toukbal - this is a small cafe located on the main square and this is where we ate breakfast most mornings. They do lovely fresh juices and the most amazing pancakes with honey!






Riad/hotel we stayed in:
 - Palais des Princesses. Great location near the main square, beautiful and peaceful inside, lovely service, rooftop terrace and lovely bedroom. No complaints!





My biggest top tip/warning:
 We got sucked in a lot of the time thinking that the local people were just being friendly and helping us out with information and directions, but after they showed us the way to somewhere we wanted to go, they then asked us for a payment. So if you don't want to get caught paying out, then I'd highly recommend asking your hotel the directions before you leave, or getting a map and finding your own way because if you ask for directions in the street you will be expected to pay them for it afterwards! 

I'll leave you with a few more photos so that hopefully I can persuade you to visit this amazing place!











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2 comments

  1. Never considered this place before reading this blog! Really good pics too :-)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow these photos are incredible! I think I much prefer visiting a place like this then a plain beach! not hating on beaches but this looks incredible! the food looks so good!!!
    http://amanda-speroni.blogspot.ca/

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