Now this page isn’t exactly in keeping with Tales of a Tuk Tuk, this page is dedicated to my trip to Morocco Marrakech last year (March 2014 – for my 21st) with my mum, we did the trip on foot and were there for five days. I did however, keep a very in-depth diary of my time there that offers some helpful tips and advice as well as my experience is such a phenomenal place!
I absolutely love Africa, especially Morocco and so I feel I might as well share my diary with whomever may be interested 🙂 and wises to know more about the country through the eyes of a first-time on-looker.
The Day Before….
Wednesday 19th March 2014
After an arduous day arguing with my housemate and requesting a new room as far away from the bugger as possible I made my way down to my home in the countryside. This is an exciting day as tomorrow mum and I jet off to the exotic paradise that is Morocco. Neither of us really know what to expect as we have not been before but we are staying in a riad smack bang in the centre if Marrakech and so should be right in the centre of it all.
We drove down to Gatwick today to save the horrendously early morning it would have required us to make if we drove down tomorrow and so are staying in the Sofitel hotel just a hop, skip and a jump away for the terminal. We decided to pay the slight extra fee for valet parking which meant after a two and a half hour drive we drove right to the hotel doors where we were met by our driver who would then bring the car to the terminal on our arrival back in England. How convenient!!
The hotel seems very nice though the food offered in its restaurants is rather pricey but they do have prime location. There is a brasserie, oriental and Italian restaurant, with a bar on the floor above, mum and I decided on a quick night cap, the waiter was friendly and prompt and my Bailey’s was lovely and chilled.
The rooms are nice enough and the beds, I must say for someone who is yet to find any bed other than her own comfortable, were more then acceptable, like being enveloped by a cloud. Let’s see what a night’s sleep will bring if I can, I am so excited!!
Thursday 20th March 2014
Today we flew to the most magical city I have encountered. Rising at the ungodly hour of 5am we left the hotel and headed to the terminal. The flight was smooth and went very quickly, probably due to my pent up excitement to finally experience Moroccan culture. On arrival you are greeted to wonderous views of agriculture and snow topped mountains which feels rather bizarre when standing under blue skies with the sun warming your skin. It was lovely and warm which was mirrored in the Moroccan people themselves, we were taken to the centre of the Medina where our riad was located.
We were then lead down a tunnel of streets full of market stalls, the colour, smells and atmosphere were overwhelming helped by the Kamikaze motorcyclist’s speeding down the populated alley ways. Suddenly we turned a corner out of the noise and were confronted with a small door in the side of a huge wall, on entering that door you are led to an oasis away from the hustle and bustle and into tranquility. A beautiful courtyard with a plunge pool centre and tables topped with the reddest roses I have ever seen, I had to see if the were real, they were!!
A huge ornate door stood at two sides of the courtyard both leading to one of the four rooms the riad possessed. Ours was opposite the kitchen , we entered to find a beautiful room, as we are travelling for my birthday the hotel had responded with a birthday message left on the bed in ruby red rose petals, the light fixtures all typically Moroccan and all fabulous!!
The bathroom was stone and simply divine a huge bath and separate shower brought images of pure relaxation however on using the bath later today it seems it is more style over substance with the hot wafer hitting the cold stone and turning tepid as well as the trickling pressure that would have meant waiting four years before an acceptable water level was reached. I heard a knock on the door and a member of staff entered and asked what soap I would like, a choice of vervienne, jasmine and musk were presented, after treating my nose to each I decided upon musk. A few moments later the same member of staff returned with a huge lump of soap wrapped in brown paper with a string bow, brilliant.
We dropped our things and quickly head back into the streets. Vendors shout to fight for your attention but you don’t mind, there is so much to look at you are almost overwhelmed…almost. We stopped off at cafe Arabe where we head to the rooftop terrace for some lunch, what a lunch! Two mohitos, morrocan salad consisting of aubergine, carrots, cabbage, peppers and lentils all uniquely prepared with Moroccan spices and truly a taste sensation, we also enjoyed, in my opinion, the tastiest dish I think I have ever had the pleasure of consuming, lamb cous cous. The lamb melted in your mouth, the onions and raisins had been cooked slow and long to create an amazing almost jammy chutney that topped the dish, the gravy for lack of a better word was packed with flavour and meant the cous cous was not only moist and delicious but a beautiful saffron yellow, truly it will be hard to find another dish that compares.
After lunch we continued to wander the streets, I find myself drawn to a dark leather backpack, hand crafted and beautiful, nothing is cheap due to the tourism boom the city has experienced in recent years. We wandered along until we reached a large open square dotted with umbrellas. The people sat under these umbrellas were performing henna, after avoiding most we were forcefully marked and pressured to pay an extortionate amount which really dampened our mood, if travelling here I recommend avoiding at all costs unless you are willing to spend close to 100 pounds for a small pattern!
Feeling slightly deflated we entered an undercover market on the outskirts of the square where we entered a shop whose owner spoke amazing english. We discussed our experience with the henna lady with him, to which he became infuriated and recommended we speak to the police as it is unacceptable as not only does it give Marrakech a bad name but also Muslims. He was incredibly hospitable and made us a cup of tea and shared anecdotes of his life, he rekindled our spirits and I bought my leather backpack from him for the reasonable price of 250 dirhum which is about 20 pounds.
Ready to face the world outside the shop once more, we head on our way back to the hotel. On the way we are drawn into the most amazing shop full of original art, breathtaking canvases scatter walls and the most ornate furniture is crammed in from floor to ceiling. We left the shop 500 pounds worse off but with an amazingly original and beautiful painting to show for it, in England you would be paying at least double for the same piece. The souk is full of leather slippers, light fixtures, ceramics, hanging carcasses, olives, herbs, spices, oils, tapestries, carpets, rugs, clothes and pretty much anything you can think of!
After a long day we arrive back at the riad where we head to the rooftop terrace for a mojito and to catch the last of the suns rays, tranquil.
We eat in the riad this evening and enjoy a wonderful starter of sweet cardamon carrots, spiced potatoes, aubergine which is slowly becoming an addiction for me as well as Moroccan bread. For mains we enjoy sweet lamb tagine and a lemon chicken tagine both of which we were told were typically Moroccan. To finish this button popping meal, mum had poire quatre which was exactly that, four pears a nice light end to a rich meal while I enjoyed pastille de pomme, best described as an apple tower layered with crisp pastry, it was, again, lovely. I think it will be impossible for us not to love everything we consume here! We retire to our beds with the thick walls keeping the silence needed for a good nights rest.