GUEST ARTICLE:On the flight to Marrakech I witnessed the most magnificent sunset I have ever seen, a beautiful orange blending into a dazzling deep blue – the contrast was stunning and I felt it was a sign (set the scene for) of what awaited us when we reached our destination.
We landed at Menara Airport, Marrakech in the evening at 7.30pm and made our way to the taxi stand.
This is where our first experience of haggling began and after a while, trying to communicate in English and rusty French we managed to secure a bargain price of 150 dirham’s from 200 ( this we later found out was twice as much as we should have paid!)
The traffic was not bad at this time of evening and as our taxi made its way to Gueliz our taxi driver began pointing out various sights – the first being the Koutoubia Mosque which dominated the skyline.
I had only seen part of the flood lit ramparts surrounded by palms and the mosque in the distance and already I was falling in love with Marrakech.
Our hotel was basic but clean and in a good location with the Medina 10 minutes away by petit taxi. Our first excursion was on the tour bus, costing 145 dirham’s for a 24 hour ticket. It was, we felt the best way to get an idea of distances and places of interest, and since we had only 4 days we didn’t want to waste time.
As with most tour buses it was comprehensive and informative, however the most interesting way to get to know a place is through contact with local people – and fortunately the people of Marrakech are warm, welcoming and enjoy a chat.
This is especially true in the Souks where it’s a shopper’s paradise, you get everything from colourful leather goods, beautiful handcrafted ceramics, aromatic spices to ornate lamps and much more. My friend was in her element as she got to exercise her bargaining skills.
On my list of things to experience whilst in Marrakech I had found a hammam, Les Bains De Marrakech on the internet which really appealed to me. Luckily we found it without too much trouble, even though we never would have imagined that such a luxurious gem would be hidden in an indistinct alleyway, which without prior knowledge, we would have walked straight past.
As we stepped into the corridor we were greeted by a delicate fragrance of jasmine, soft lighting and traditional Moroccan décor, the curtains and drapes gave the environment a sumptuous feel. For our treatment we were taken to a dimly lit room where Rachida and Aziza scrubbed and polished us from head to toe using eucalyptus and black soap – we were in fits of laughter as we didn’t know what to expect and also they could only speak French and Arabic so we communicated using sign language. The relaxing massage with Argan Oil (locally produced) was divine and the whole experience left me feeling positively pampered and glowing. An experience not to be missed.
The stunning Jardin Marjorelle is situated off a main road and I never in my wildest dreams imagined that this garden existed in such a central location. The peace and tranquillity that I experienced here was sublime, for me it was truly the highlight of my trip.
Whilst within the garden walls I couldn’t imagine that the world outside was all hustle and bustle, in fact, I think for that afternoon my world became that garden with its striking colours, shapes the light and the shade.
We had a lovely lunch in the coffee shop – traditional tagine and a fresh goat’s cheese salad washed down by Moroccan mint tea. I have never taken as many photos as I did there; everywhere my eyes turned it was simply a visual feast.
We found ourselves on our last night at a local club “ African Chic” – courtesy of a friendly local who insisted it was wasteful to spend the last night in a hotel room. The live music was a mixture of Latin, African and Arabic tunes with a soulful James Brown tribute act – fab-u-lous. If you like good music – it doesn’t get much better than this.
Marrakech was a great mixture of the old and new and the whole holiday was an absolute joy and everything I had always expected from such an exotic sounding location. My only regret is that we didn’t manage to visit the Atlas Mountains but we are hoping to head back in the near future – Inshallah as they say in Marrakech.
This travel diary has been written by Reena Vasavda-Chauhan.
If you’ve travelled somewhere off the beaten track, can write well and have good quality photos I encourage you to contact me and I’ll consider publishing your travel diary here including generous attribution and links back to your website as thanks for your contribution