Friday, 20 April 2012

Exotic Marrakech

When we were deciding where to go on our spring holiday, I thought Morocco would be an amazing destination, and I'd heard good things about Marrakech. Kind of mystical and enchanting, and definitely foreign. Well, I was right, and it was all of those things and more. 

On our first day, we lounged on our hotel terrace and soaked in the sun for a few hours while sipping on sweet mint tea. We stayed at Villa Makassar in the old part of town, which is a bit more cultural and traditional than the modern, built up new part of town. Like several of the hotels in Marrakech, our hotel was  a riad – a traditional Moroccan house with an interior garden or courtyard that’s been converted into a hotel. Makes for a very royal stay! At dusk on our first day, we headed out to La Medina (city centre square and open air market) and the Souk (an open air food market). It was absolute madness – loads of Moroccan food everywhere (grilled meats,teas, fresh orange juice and sweets), homemade pottery, scarves, jewellery and clothing of all sorts – literally everything you could imagine. And while the people were a bit aggressive with their sales pitches, it made for a very memorable experience topped off by a monkey jumping on Jim’s head! 

The next day, after a slightly treacherous walk through town, we went for a hammam spa day at the beautiful Les Bains de Marrakech, which included a scrub and body masque, an oriental side-by-side bath (our bath room was completely covered in rose petals and candles, how romantic!), and finally a massage. One thing I loved about this place was the gorgeous architecture and attention to detail, the lanterns and intricate artwork was so lovely. Highly recommend!

On our final day, we went on a guided city tour of the major sites. Although Marrakech’s city centre isn’t very large, it’s still too far to walk (and probably too dangerous!). We started on the inside of the city walls at El Bahia Palace, a beautiful 19th century structure, and then drove past the grand Koutoubia Mosque (you can't enter if you're not Muslim). Next, we saw the camels in the Palmeraie area, had lunch in the new part of town, walked through Yves Saint Laurent's luscious Majorelle Gardens, and toured the Saadian Tombs where many Moroccan royals have been laid to rest. 

Mystical Marrakech is a city of extremes as it can be amazingly relaxing but also chaotic. I don’t know if I’ll be back anytime soon, but I’m so glad we went!

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