Having had a busy start to the New Year, with a new job, moving house and some personal changes I was in need of a relaxing/exploring break. I and my friend Sophie spend most nights looking at holidays and planning random adventures, and this was one of them.
Booked it. Packed it. Fucked off.
Our hotel was around a 45 minute drive from the airport, that’s without the 2 stops we did at other hotels. I will say that drivers in Morocco are ruthless. We were in the car for around 5/10 minutes when a car nearly went into the side of us at great speed. Our driver got very angry and was shouting at the driver of the other car in Arabic, so we didn’t know what was being said but we could just see the driver shrugging his shoulders. After it had calmed down, our driver told us that they were the police and did not give a care in the world that what they had done was wrong.
DID YOU KNOW?
Marrakech is split into two distinct parts: the old city, or medina and the modern city of which Gueliz is the heart of and offers an alternative vibe to the traditional, relaxed old medina atmosphere. Best for modern high street shops, cafes and bars.
Here’s my 4 day relax/explore itinerary of Marrakech, Morocco.
As we arrived in the night, we was not able to see our surroundings. So in the morning we had a pleasant surprise when we awoke to large balcony doors with our own outside seating areas and surrounded by palm trees and beautiful flowers. To me, it was the definition of paradise.
The first day was chill by the pool day and soak up some rays. Food was an all you can eat buffet, which included hot & cold food, drinks and desserts. Breakfast was served from 6 – 11:30, then there were snacks available before lunch and then lunch was at 14:00, and then dinner was served from 19:00 and to be honest it was lovely. Although every meal had peppers in it in some sort of way (which I am not complaining about, peppers are life) it was really, really good and very filling.
The pool area, included a bar which had unlimited alcohol (be careful in the heat) and multiple water slides and every day the hotel staff would do different pool activities and work outs.
On the second day we booked an excursion within the hotel which cost around 375 MAD (Moroccon Dirham) which is around 30GBP go see the waterfall called Ouzoud which is about 150km Northeast of Marrakech. This was one the sites we wanted to see and was really excited. I’m not going to lie, if I had known the coach journey would be 3 hours there and 3 hours back I probably would of given it some thought as it was 33 degrees outside and the bus had really bad air con. BUT, the coach journey took you through Marrakesh and showed us parts that we would not have seen if we hadn’t of gone and parts they don’t show you in the travel guides, and it really was breath taking. The poverty and the way people live their lives was just mesmerising and very sad. (I also saw some goats chilling in a tree and it made the journey).
When we arrived, we had 5/6 hours to roam around the village and down to the waterfalls before we had to head back. Walking down the mountain side, through a little village with loads of the little stalls was beautiful and you kept getting glimpses of the waterfall through the trees.
I do have to mention there were several animals being used for entertainment purposes and it wasn’t nice. As cute as the Monkey, Donkey and Horse were, they all looked exhausted and dehydrated. The young boy that was looking after the horse wanted to charge us for just making sure if was ok.
The excursion included lunch, half way down the mountain was a restaurant that looked directly onto the waterfall, so every now and then you would get a little spray of the water, which is perfect as it was around 33 degrees. The food was amazing, we had starters of bread, dips and some olives.
For my main I had a chicken kebab which came with the tastiest fries. The others had a Vegetable Tagine (which I wish I had got). The service was great and the food was amazing, they also gave us free large bottles of water. After food, we headed down to the bottom of the mountain/waterfall to see the plunge pool. There were boat rides to that took you into the plunge pool but as it is quite a tourist attraction is was very busy, and the wait was very long.
If you don’t like hiking in very high heat, I wouldn’t recommend walking right down to the bottom as of course you have to walk back up. By the time we got to the top, I was the sweatiest mess. Also there are no toilets. Just a little hut, covered in creepy crawlies and no light, YUP.
On the third day we went into the centre of Marrakech and got lost in the Souks. There was an excursion within the hotel but it cost around 325 MAD which exchanges to around 26GBP but our hotel also ran a free shuttle bus that took you into the centre of town that ran around 5 times a day and back. So we decided to take the shuttle bus and find our own way around.
The bus dropped us off into the town centre which was around a 15 minute walk from Jamaa El Fna Square which is where Koutoubia Mosque is located (the famous tower that you see on any travel guide) and then the Souks are a 5 minute walk away.
Before going to Marrakech, I read a lot of blog posts about how women should dress and how to respect their religion and heard about many incidents where women had been harassed and spat on in the streets for the clothing they were wearing so I was a bit anxious on the way there. I wore a knee length dress, put a scarf around my shoulders (IT WAS SO HOT, HOW DO WOMEN COPE IN THAT HEAT) and some sandals and the girls wore similar things but when we were there, there were many women out there that had very little on. Personally I wanted to respect their religion and beliefs and cover myself up so I kept the scarf on.
As the square is the most popular tourist destination, it is very busy so be prepared to be hounded with people selling trinkets and wanted you to get henna tattoos. There are also the snake charmers. Oh the snake charmers. I am one of those people that prefer animals to humans, so when I see an animal’s getting treated badly I just want to punch the human straight in the face. These snakes were thrown around, kicked and shoved into bags. As I have never been that close to a snake of that nature before, it was very surreal. But it was also very sad. Again, there were monkeys that just looked starving, dehydrated and just very unhappy.
Once you get through the hustle and bustle of the main square you can enter the Souks in many different locations, so just remember where as you will probably get lost. Imagine entering a mirror maze and not taking notes/leaving a trail of where you’ve been well the Souks was like that. I read beforehand that the ‘exit’ signs are all wrong because they want you to keep walking past their stalls and make you buy things. But us, being the goody goodies that we are, we took a route that we would remember but even then we got lost and ended up in the back end of the Souks where all the making of some of the goods are sold, it was very dark and dingy and having it just being us 3 girls, very unsafe.
Walking through the Souks, we were hounded by some of the gentleman on the stalls making crude comments but I guess you just have to ignore that and stick together.
Once we were done, we got a taxi back to the centre, where there was a shopping centre and restaurants and had a wander around until the shuttle bus would come and collect us.
This was our last day in Marrakech, so as the previous 2 days were very busy we decided to have another pool day and get in some tanning time and take full advantage of the all-inclusive and free alcohol. This was the day that I burnt, and I am still rocking some questionable tan lines.
8 POINTERS IF YOU ARE GOING TO TRAVEL TO MARRAKECH, MOROCCO
1 – Complete the embarkation card they give you on the plane and complete the form when returning from Marrakech before going through security.
2 – Water. Make sure you buy big bottles of water.
3 – In the souks they will try and make you pay for everything. Even taking photos of the ground.
4 – Money. You can’t exchange your money beforehand, make sure you let your bank know that you will be using your card overseas to exchange money.
5 – Wasps. Everywhere.
6 – Be respectful of religion.
7 – Wear your seatbelt.
8 – Don’t take it to heart. If you go to the Souks expect to get harassed and have rude comments thrown your way.