On Sunday I got back from a three day trip to Marrakesh, Morocco. I already miss the bright tile floors, bustling streets, and sweet mint tea!
Hayley and I caught a mid-afternoon flight out of London to Marrakesh. By the time we arrived the sun was setting and the sky was awash in pink, purple, gold, and blue. After getting through customs and taking out some dirhams (the Moroccan currency) Hayley and I caught the bus to the Place Jemaa El Fna, one of the main squares in Marrakesh.
Arriving in the dark was a bit of an experience: as soon as we left the bus we were confronted by eager merchants, street performers, and a total lack of signage. Don't panic, right? Eventually we made it onto the street that our hotel was on and a friendly local pointed us in the direction of the Hotel du Tressor, a sweet little riad just a few minutes walk from the square. We were pretty exhausted from our travels so we called it a night pretty shortly thereafter!
On Thursday morning Hayley and I got up early, ate breakfast at our riad (I love when breakfast is included), and headed into the city! Our first stop was the Mosquee de la Koutoubia, a beautiful mosque just off the main square (non Muslims aren't allowed in, so we just walked around).
Our next stop was the Jardins de la Koutoubia and the Oliveraie de Bab Jdid, an olive tree grove on the edge of the city.
While in the olive grove we stumbled on a horse competition. I wasn’t really sure what was going on (I don’t speak Arabic or much French), but it was fun to watch!
I think some of the horse riders also had camels, because there were a few tied up by the competition area! Maybe I've just watched The Mummy one too many times, but I think they're adorable.
From the olive grove we walked to the Cyber Parc Moulay Abdeslam. The park had little outdoor stations with computers in them, so it was kind of like an outdoor internet cafe. Weirdly awesome.
Our next stop was Jnane El Harti, the “dinosaur park” (so named for some giant dinosaur structures kids can play on). There were a few really lovely fountains in the park, and it’s right on the edge of Gueliz, the modern section of Marrakesh.
By the time we got done with the gardens Hayley and I were getting super hungry so we ended up getting lunch nearby. We both got vegetarian tagines, a delicious Berber dish named for the special type of pot in which it’s cooked.
After our tasty lunch we walked around the city a bit more. I can’t get over how many orange trees there were everywhere; you could literally find them on every corner!
We ended up at the Majorelle Gardens, which was once owned by the fashion icon Yves St. Laurent. The garden was full of cacti, vibrant buildings, and lush plants. If you’re not into gardens, it’s still probably worth a visit to see the architecture! I definitely left with an irrational desire to paint my room a shockingly bright shade of blue.
After the gardens Hayley and I treated ourselves to some gelato to beat the midday heat (I got lemon and mandarin; so not culturally appropriate, but so totally worth it) and walked back to the Place Jemaa El Fna.
At the square we got some freshly squeezed orange juice at a market stall for 4 dh (about fifty US cents!). I’m pretty sure it was the best orange juice I’ve ever had.
We headed back to our riad around five to read on the rooftop balcony and watch the sunset over the city. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the Moroccan sunset.
After the sun went down we went back to the square for dinner. A ton of vendors had put up tent stands all over the square. All of the stalls sell the exact same things (nuts, orange juice, tea, egg sandwiches, and the same exact hot meals) so there’s fierce competition to get customers and the tactics are crazy! I had “you’re so skinny, come eat!” (I’m not) to “Lady Gaga! Lady Gaga!” (…?) shouted at me a few times, which was funny. We finally settled on a stall and Hayley and I both ordered vegetarian couscous (which was admittedly somewhat tasteless). Hayley also got olives and I ordered eggplant and green peppers, which were both amazing! We ended the meal with the traditional Moroccan mint tea, which is incredibly sweet and incredibly delicious.
After dinner we walked around the square a little bit and got some dried fruit, nuts, and Moroccan sweets before heading back to the riad and getting some sleep in preparation for a trip to the Atlas Mountains!