05 October 2015

Travel adventures in Marrakech

Ah-mazing and beautiful Marrakech!
Marrakech is such a charming place to visit, it has so many good restaurants, the Souks where you can! and should! always bargain, the Jardin Majorelle that is known to be Yves Saint Laurent's house and of course the famous Jemaa El -Fna square and market place in the medina quarter which becomes alive when the Sun goes down!
Let me start by saying I was amazed and mesmerized by the people,places and overall atmoshpere in Marrakech! It was my first time there and I didn't know what to expect but I was sure that it will be something I never experienced before.

We booked out stay in a traditional Moroccan Riad, the name of the place is Riad Assouel.(Riad is a traditional Moroccan house with an interior garden or courtyard) If you go in Marrakech I highly recommend staying in one of these Riad houses.You will get the authentic Moroccan experience staying in a such place. The architecture of these houses is unreal and trully breathtaking. After a day of bargaining in the Souks, the Riad will offer you a calming retreat that will be priceless at the end of the day.

Marrakech has so many amazing restaurants and cafe places, starting from Asian, Italian, Brazilian, French and of course Moroccan cousine. The ones I highly recommend are Le Jardin, Nomad, Cafe Arabe, Latitude 31.

 Places to visit:
 1/ It is the NR.1 must to visit Jardin Majorelle which is known to be Yves Saint Laurents house. This exotic garden will amaze you.

 2/ Jemaa El- Fna market place  is the second place I recommend.Late in the day when the darkness falls,  both local people and tourists will gather in this market area.Vendors will offer you all kinds of bizzarre ( if you ask me) traditional Moroccan food options.Musicians and performers will capture your attention.The atmoshpere is captivating and amazing. Even if you decide to stay away from the food offerings, a fresh orange juice is a must.
3/ Souks: the place where you can find real life treasures. Hand made traditional Moroccan carpets, spices, jewelery, cosmetics, clothes, shoes etc.With hundreds of shops, prepare to be here and shop for hours and hours.
 4/ Bahia Palace: a set of gardens and palace built in the late 19th century.It captures the essence of both Moroccan and Islamic style.

1. The Medina (old city of Marrakech) is not as big as it may appear at first. By walking you are able to walk from one side to another in aprox. 30 mins. That is if you don't get sidetracked in the Souk. Don't get a Taxi. Better explore it's small streets by walking.
2. Bargain bargain bargain! The sellers expect you to bargain with them. It is fun experience for both of you! Start your price aproximately at the half of what they are asking for! Be determined  to make a best deal you can, don't let them win!
3. Before you decide to buy something, look around in the other shops aswell, they most likely have the same things and maybe at a better price.
4. Bargain even in the spice and cosmetic shops. You might think these are proper shops where bargaining has no sense, don't be fooled, half price as I mentioned above.
5. Download an offline map of Marrakech! This will save your life. There is no way you can figure out the streets by yourself, especially at nighttime when you are walking home from the Market. A map will be your best friend.
6. Local boys and man will try to help you find the place, restaurant you are looking for! Don't ask their help because they will ask money for it! Better ask a seller from the shops, they will be happy to help you!
7. I would try to avoid eating fresh salads, I suggest you only eat coocked food. If you have a sensitive stomach you might end up staying in the hotel room instead of exploring the city.
8. There are plenty of daily trips to the mountains, waterfalls, or ocean. I visited the city of Essaouira which is a Western Moroccan city next to the ocean.Beautiful just as Marrakech, yet different. The
restaurant I recommend here is Taros Cafe. On the way to Essaouira you also stop at the place where the local berber women produce the famous argan oil in the traditional way.
9. Often times, the best places ( cafes and restaurants) are 'hidden' behind small random doors. Once the door is open you are welcomed in a beautiful and relaxing place where you can recharge your energy levels.
10. Be careful, I mean very careful on the streets of the Souks because local people  travel around with scooters and bicycles and they are wild!
11. Although Marrakech is a modern city, we must respect their religion and traditions that require  adequate clothes in order to not offend the locals.That means that your sholders and knees need to be covered at all times.

If any of you plan a trip to Marrakech, beleive me you will have the trip of your life! Cannot wait to go back!