OMG, Morocco was amazing!! The best holiday we've ever been on! It's such a different world from what I'm used to. However... when Paul and I visit a city, we generally walk around the streets and instantly dream about our move to the city... Marrakesh is not one of those places. It's an incredibly interesting place, full of fascinating people, but it's also so busy and frantic. Hassle never ends in Marrakesh and every turn around a corner brings one to another bustling scene.
For instance, when I arrived in a taxi from the airport (Paul and I travelled separately, from Dublin and London), the main streets were empty. But then the little square near our riad was full of people crowded around a fire pit. Animal skins were piled to one side, horns to the other. I had arrived in the middle of Eid al-Adha, one of the biggest Islamic holidays. It was fascinating but also such a culture shock! Looking over the city from our riad's roof, the main thing I noticed was the smoke from the many animal sacrifices that took place that day. Captivating.
When Paul arrived, we walked to the Jemaa el-Fnaa, a UNESCO World Heritage Site where people gather, dance, put on shows, tell stories and play games. (During the day, there are snake charmers, which I'm less impressed with.) That evening, we had dinner at a stall in the square because no restaurants were open. It was... an experience. The food was really tasty, especially this great chili and lime sauce! But as was expected, the cutlery came out dirty and we got absolutely fleeced for the price. We were new, timid and tired and I didn't think to argue that the meal was 230 dirham (about 23 euro) when everything on the menu was 5 to 10 dirham and we certainly didn't get 23 different dishes. And then he put a 70 dirham tip on it!! That was one of the most expensive meals of our trip and we didn't even have a table to ourselves.
After a few days though, I'm ashamed to say that we were done with tagines and couscous dishes. We had some amazing ones, sure! But near the end of the week, all we wanted was pizza and burgers. We found a restaurant on the way to the Ville Nouvelle and got burgers and chips, which were just delicious! On his last day (I had left that morning), Paul went back there for lunch and they recognised him, which was really unexpected. Moroccan people are so friendly!
Another example of their friendliness is the evening we bought two cups of this amazing spicy tea on the square and had a chat with the shopkeeper about this and that. We went back the next evening and were charged double the price for only one cup of tea! We were really confused but didn't say anything. Then the same man from the night before came out and gave us most of our money back because he recognised us! Paul bought a giant bag of mint with it and he is loving the mint tea he's making at home.
And the souks! Pretty much all we did while we were in Marrakesh was get lost in the souks, over and over, until we started recognising shops and squares and people. They're the most compelling aspect of the city! I pride myself on being a pro at haggling and Paul's a natural at it, so we really enjoyed every transaction made! I bargained hard for an awesome leather bag and got it down from 400 to 250 dirham (about 25 euro). At the end of the haggle, the shopkeeper asked me was I happy, which I was, and he seemed so pleased that I had enjoyed it!
The only (and I mean only) attraction we visited in Marrakesh was the Jardin Majorelle. It was a nice, peaceful space to visit, full of pretty flowers, succulents, palm trees and bamboo. We really appreciated the quiet break from the city.
These are just a few of the stories we have from Marrakesh and below are just a few of the photos I took but I hope you like them! And if you ever get a chance, do visit this amazing city!
I'll be back soon with details from the absolute highlight from our holiday - a trip to the Sahara desert!