“They’re taking me to Marrakech”

 

Morocco. Truth be told, is a place on the map that I am particularly unfamiliar with.

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Dozen of friends who have had the pleasure of visiting the region, told me their colourful stories about Marrakech and that I had to pay a visit while living in the UK. I asked my flatmate if she wanted to join me for some ‘winter sun’ at the end of the October – a perfect time to get that last bit of sunshine before the cold season starts to kick in.

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5 days of sunshine, swimming in resort pools, eating local cuisine and getting amongst the culture of the city seemed all the right mixes for a decent little escape.

On this trip we decided to book two hotels which actually is a brilliant idea when you think about it. There are so many resorts in Marrakech to choose from and some pretty flash ones I might add.  So if you’re wanting to get the most out of the city then this would be the right way to go. For those wanting to be more traditional than a Riad might be something that tickles your fancy.

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We were lucky enough to experience some very hot weather when we arrived. I am normally used to temperatures of up to 40 degrees but since it has been a while I was glad we would be staying in a resort with a generous size pool to cool down with.

As we had arrived bang on lunchtime after an amusing taxi ride to the hotel, we were starving and ready for our first meal of the holiday. The resort had a few restaurants, one with a buffet type lunch which met my standards. I had been warned about the food and how ill you can get if its been washed with their water, which was lingering at the back of mind particularly because I am super fussy when it comes to preparation of food and cleanliness. As you can see I managed to tuck into a few too many naughty treats but as they say, when your on holiday you can eat as much as you like!

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After loads of swimming, a few G&T’s and quality time with the sun we were keen to go and explore the crazy streets of the Medina and try our luck at finding a relatively nice place to have some dinner. The locals can be slightly ‘over friendly’ and we were warned off this kind of behaviour however I do believe in good instincts when it comes to people so when were approached in the street and shown a place that only a local would know about,  I was willing to take a risk of being lead down the dark alley way (not as bad it seems).  Call me stupid, crazy, irresponsible. Life is all about taking a risk and im really glad we did as were led to one of the most spectacular roof top restaurants I have ever been to my life.

Setting the scene – you had beautifully designed rugs, gorgeous covered furnishings filled with oodles of cushions, candles set upon miniature tables,  a humongous teepee styled roof and most importantly, peace and quiet from the madness of the Medina. Sensational on all levels.

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The food at this place was the icing on the cake. Far too much as per usual. I loved all the little tagine pots filled with specialty condiments, vegetables and different spices. Jammy.

Our new local tour guide even swinged by the restaurant afterwards and offered to take us to the new city for some Shisha… I mean lets face it, a puff of the flavoured tobacco has to be done. Add to that a live Arab band equipped with a violinist and you are set for the evening. 

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The following day we walked to Jardin Majorelle an enclosed enchanting garden in a busy part of town. Filled with exotic plants and fountains there is also a memorial for the late Yves Saint Laurent who discovered the garden along with Jardin back in 1966. When it comes to nature and pretty flowers I have the habit of taking maybe a few too many photos so this time around I’ve only put a select amount up for your viewing pleasure.

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 Walking around the city during the day is hard going. The heat is very dry and don’t make the mistake of not packing a hat with you because you’ll end up using  a scarf as a sun protector just like I resorted in doing. After 2 very long hours I started to feel that irritable state of mind kicking in and I knew it was time to head back to the hotel for a dip amongst the H2O. Thoughts of a shading myself on a sun lounger with a cool beverage in hand seemed a little to dreamy at this point.

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 I was thrilled about the idea of riding a camel. Call me a tourist, I really don’t care, I was doing it. Arranged through the hotel, we were taken on a minibus about half an hours drive out of the city which seemed like I was almost in the middle of the desert. Goodo. I could also now see why we had done this in the earlier part of the morning, talk about baking hot! We were made (and I say made) to wear these ultra stylish outfits, kitted with the right head-gear. Totally appropriate for a camel ride I must say. My camel which I named George was very well-behaved as we trekked across a well-worn in path for about an hour and a half. The handlers were a bunch of nice chaps who barely spoke much english but still managed the odd banter along the way.

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Finishing off with some Moroccan mint tea and biscuits I can safely say my body was ready for that pool again.

Ooohh I have to say the tea is just fabulous but the amount of sugar that is included is debatable.  Without coming off as being rude I was happy to drink the tea on offer but if you prefer to opt out of the massive sugar hit then just ask them to make it without. Im sweet enough as it is 🙂 

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Our next hotel was located slightly further from the last one which meant only one thing. Haggling with the taxi drivers. When you come to a place like this expect to haggle ALOT and never back down on a price. They will try to rip you off any way that they can. These people are professionals so don’t be fooled or down played by any of it.

After we arrived I was mega pleased with the facilities and the gorgeous interior of the whole entire building was up-lifting. A step up from the last place, with less amount of families and pulling a younger crowd of people. Did I mention how quiet it was? A lovely sized pool greeted us with open arms, loaded with lounges and a pool bar. Get me in there already….

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The rooms were a just as nice with tasteful and traditional decor. The stress of haggling all seemed well worth it for the wonderful surroundings we had in full view for the next 3 days.  

Four things are coming to mind at this point. Wine – food – tan – swim. COME AT ME

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Later into the evening we had booked into another roof top restaurant called Kechmara in Guéliz. Recommended by a friend to check out, extra points to them for including the live music set, bang on 8pm when we arrived. Live jazz on a roof terrace – I can’t really think of anything better than this.  

The night air was balmy, a good crowd of peeps were getting onto the rhythm of the soulful sounds of the saxophone and a table full of food meant that I was not moving of from my chair ever. Just kidding I needed to pee haha.

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My travelling buddy suggested we go for a late night cocktail and what better place than the luxurious five star Four Seasons hotel.  You could only hear a pin drop as we entered the lobby area and with no one in sight, we had the place to ourselves.

Frozen Margarita in hand, a breath-taking view with a tranquil setting = bliss.

 

 

 

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*Crochet hand-made foot wraps made by Pretty Little Homemade*

 

Saturday morning I woke up feeling somewhat groggy and I what your thinking – heavy night on the booze yes? Not quite. A not so funny tummy kept me up all night and today was the day were heading into the hectic Djamaa El Fna market square in the Old Town. Not the day for it! Even though I was struggling to eat one piece of bread I was determined to show face or grim and bear it if I had too. I can’t even begin to describe to you what its like here. Perhaps madness would be a good start. Filled with alleyways that seem to go on and on with bucket loads of outlets selling anything from shoes, jewellery, handbags, teapots and vintage pieces to last you a lifetime. This is also a place for all sorts of performers to take stage and as I learnt after taking one picture, handing over the cash. I don’t think I was ever going to be prepared for the chaotic vibe that this places brings but feeling under the weather was not helping me out at all. After a few hours of being constantly harassed and pushed into just about every shop I had reached the point of my patience and called it a day.

……..Dont get me wrong this part of town is buzzing with excitement and a must to see with your own eyes. Just be mindful of pick pockets, don’t make too much eye contact, be ready to bargain with these guys and most of all, embrace all of it!

 

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Just to be slightly different we opted for a horse and cart ride back to the hotel. This is also a fantastic way of seeing the city rather than in taxi weaving in and out of the traffic at an idiotic pace.

 

Taking advantage of a resort with a spa meant we could enjoy an afternoon pamper session. A much-needed facial followed by a power nap made all the difference and I was ready for our next engagement – dinner and drinks at Jad Mahal.

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We had the best seats in the house with front row to some brilliant live acts. In fact more live music than I have seen in this whole entire year (terrible I know).  From the angelic sounds of the violin and the powerful melodies of the acoustic guitarists, who would have thought that a bunch of flamboyant belly dancers with tea party sets on their heads would have completed the evening.

So much energy in the room, I was most impressed with the entertainment value here. For once it override the food. Now there’s a first!

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Sadly we didn’t have the opportunity to make a debut at Pasha nightclub – which happened to be conveniently located next door to where we were staying (I promise I didn’t plan for this at all). Closed for a private function I believe it may have been a sign to just call it a night. It had been a big day anyway and lets face it, I needed my beauty sleep.

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Feeling my normal perky self again on the last day, there was only one thing on my mind that I had to do before we left. Get some henna tattoo and hold a snake. Actually not the snake bit… but we will get to this later.

The Bahia Palace was also on our to do list so after a morning swim and one last baking session in the glorious sun, we headed back into the intensity of the old town for some more culture activities. 

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Getting back to the snakes….

So I may have made the mistake of taking a picture. Why didn’t anybody warn me about this 🙂 Within seconds I had three men asking me for money and of course me being so nice I gave them leftover coins that I had. They then allowed me to take another picture and within one blink of an eye, both Charlotte and I had a snake wrapped around our necks. To be honest, I wasnt freaked at all by this. I was more scared of the people handling these reptiles. Or should I say the ‘snake charmers’. I had two cobras within a metre of me and a snake around my neck. Things were getting real… then  just as I thought I could walk away scot-free, they asked me for more money (about £20). Crafty little buggers. After starting a small debate over how much they were ripping me off, I just ended up walking away in the end. Such a rebel. 

 

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There were plenty of Henna tattoo artists around the Market Square with lots of pretty and intricate designs to choose from.  For a bit of background info, it is also known as hina, the henna tree, the mignonette tree, and the Egyptian privet is a flowering plant and the sole species of the Lawsonia genus.  Henna was once used as a cosmetic purpose in these regions and remains an important custom with bridal nights. You leave it to dry for about an hour, the colour will darken within a few days. Of course she had to add some glitter for extra measure.

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 ‘Another roof terrace. Some more mint tea. Cafe Chez ZaZa – Old Town Medina’ 

 

 

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Islamic call for prayer on the roof top of Medina old city…

 

 

Such a vibrant city oozing with so much character, rich in history and an all round interesting part of the world to visit.

Marrakech its been a blast, thanks for having me!!

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