Friday, 10 March 2017

Like Jasmine & Aladdin

Last year, my boyfriend and I planned a trip to Morocco to celebrate my 21st birthday. Little did I know that it would be such an amazing experience, Morocco being one of the most beautiful countries I have every travelled to! So here are some thoughts, tips and recommendations!

Approximately three hours from Marrakech by bus, it was a huge contrast from the busy Medina. Hundreds of hotels by the beach filled with French and British tourist and not much more happening, to be honest. Having said that, we stayed in the most beautiful I have stayed in, in my life. Hotel Riad Villa Blanche, with the most amazing Moroccan architecture and the most delicious breakfast, served every morning. We were definitely in heaven and we were glad we decided to stay in the Riad instead of an "all-inclusive" hotel overcrowded with tourists. As for activities, there is definitely not a lack of options in either Agadir or Marrakech. Day two in Agadir we decided to hire a driver for the day who showed us around Agadir and drove us around until we got to our final destination, the Sahara. It was a trip well worth our time and money, and something I definitely recommend as we felt Agadir was a bit limited compared to Marrakech. Also, for our last day, we decided to drive buggies which was so much fun.We rented one buggy and drove around for two hours, which was an amazing experience as we got to see a different side to Agadir. All of this is something we booked through the hotel, so it's always worth and safe to first check with your hotel what they have to offer in regards to activities. 

In Marrakech we spent most of our time exploring the Media (old town), getting ourselves lost in the souks while shopping along the way. In the evenings we saw the break up of Ramadan after sundown and how the city came to life with kids running around, people bringing food around their neighbours while helping those in need. I must admit I was a bit nervous of travelling during Ramadan, but it was one of the best experiences! As a tourist, the city is a bit more quite, the prices lower and you feel safer during Ramadan. Never feeling uncomfortable or unsafe walking around in Marrakech, even during the night. But one of the best parts was the delicious Moroccan cuisine had to offer. Tagine with different flavours, such as kofta tagine, couscous and nonetheless mint tea which we drank every single day during our trip. But I must admit, I was surprised by the amount of nice and good restaurants in Marrakech; Le Comptoir, Kosybar, Kasbah Café & Restaurant, Grand Café de la Poste which I would highly recommend trying. As when it comes to shopping you have to expect to get a bit hassled when wondering around souks as shop owners want you to buy anything and everything. But remember to say no if you are not interested but of course, be polite about it. But if you are interested in either on the beautiful jewellery or handpainted pottery that one don’t be afraid to haggle the price, as long as your price is realistic. 

Restaurants in Marrakech

Le Comptoir Marrakech -  Avenue Echouhada، Marrakech 40000,

Before we travelled to Marrakech, we decided to do a bit of research around what restaurants to try out, when we stumbled across Le Comptoir Marrakech. After reading all the good reviews about their food and entertainment, we decided to book a table for my birthday, and what an experience it was! By ten o’clock a group of belly dancers elegantly danced around the tables accompanied with Moroccan live music. Definitely, a place I recommend as the food was delicious and a good value!

Kosybar - Place des Ferblantiers، Rue de Berrima، Marrakech

If you want a place where you can relax after a long day of roaming around the souks, Kosybar is the perfect place. We didn’t try any of their food, but their cocktails are well worth the try being Moroccan and french inspired. The one thing I loved about this bar was that the fact that it was a roof bar terrace which was tucked away from the crowded Medina, where you could sip a refreshing cocktail while enjoying the view from above. 

Grand Cafe de la Poste - Angle Boulevard El Mansour Eddabhi et Avenue Iman Malik Gueliz

After taking the taxi to the new town and roaming around for hours, the heat got to us and our stomach was rumbling. While trying to  Google the nearest restaurant, we managed to stumble upon this cafe which has to be one of the most well-decorated cafes in Marrakech. The food was amazing, friendly staff and reasonable prices.

Kasbah Cafe

After a long day of exploring the old down and the heat getting to us, we decided to seek some cover in this wonderful rooftop cafe. Its location was somehow quite intriguing to tourist, however, the amazing view of the mosque and the refreshing wind from above was much appreciated.

Tips while in Marrakech 
1. Clothing - Although I found Marrakech to be quite modernised and accepting, I did sometimes feel uncomfortable showing 'too much’ skin. Not because people stirred or seemed bothered by it, but as a sign of respect to their culture I always brought with me a scarf while wondering around. Keep also in mind that during the summer months the heat can get overwhelming, so having a scarf at hand helped me cover my shoulder from the hot sun.

2. Taxi Fares - Before getting in the cab do make sure you have agreed with the driver the price for before the journey, as they can be quite sneaky and over charge you. Try not to get cabs that are lined up outside major tourist sights like the Majorelle Gardens.

3. Hassle - I must be honest that by the last we were in Marrakech, both my boyfriend and I got easily irritated when only trying to have one final stroll around the markets. Try not to get it to you as you will miss the fun and maybe even some good shopping opportunities, but make sure to be firm if you are not interested in buying something.

4. Where to stay - We personally stayed at a Riad we booked through Airbnb and we could have not asked for a better stay in Marrakech. The Riad was perfectly located as it was tucked away from the busy markets, but close enough to every sightseeing spots we wanted to visit. So I definitely recommend looking at Airbnb for Riads if you want a true Marrakech experience! Through our riad, we were also able to plan a few

5. The Heat -  We travelled mid-June and the heat was almost unbearable in the days we stayed in Marrakech. Most days the temperature hit 40 degrees, and although we tried to chug several bottles of water, it was sometimes not enough. Having said that, anything that helps you keep cool, even a tiny teenie bit helps. So be prepared for the heat by applying sunscreen, keep hydrated, wear loose clothes and keep in the shade if possible.

6. Guidebook - Before even planning our trip to Morocco, we decided to buy a guidebook from Lonely Planet which quickly becomes our best friend during our stay in Marrakech. The good think about guidebook is that it gives you all important information you need if your iPhone suddenly decides to take a nap during the heat. Everything to how much in tips you should give, day trips you can take, recommendations for restaurants and bars and how to use some common phrases such as hello and thank.

7. Spa - While planning my birthday in Marrakech we thought that it would be unheard if we were to leave Morocco without indulging in a spa session. Flicking through TripAdvisor, we booked ourselves into Les Bains D’orient spa and what an amazing experience! Being the birthday girl and never actually been to a spa before, I went full on.  I had an hour massage, did my eyebrows and had a pedicure, and it was out of this world. A must when in Marrakech! 

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