This whole adventure started out when Tess and I were looking for a country that would allow us to travel without a visa. I was set to visit her in Newcastle and go off to Rome by myself, and so we wanted to choose a destination we could explore together. We didn’t want to go through another tedious visa application process and so after much deliberation, we ended up choosing Morocco.
We really didn’t know what to expect. She was helping me plan my Rome trip and we were planning the London trip after Morocco that we just didn’t get to think much about Marrakech, our Moroccan city of choice.
It was a crazy journey from start to finish. Arriving at our accomodations in Riad Atllas was nice and refreshing. It was a quiet place tucked away within a maze of little streets in the Medina (old city).
Breakfast was simple but always a delight. It usually consisted of fresh orange juice, coffee, yogurt with fresh fruit, and bread. Throughout our stay we had a variety of jams: tomato, fennel, lemon, apple, orange, and pear.
We were staying a short walk away from the Place Jemaa El Fna. As soon as you draw closer to the main square you’ll get a sensory overload. Performance artists and snake charmers, fruit stalls dotting the entire place, the smells coming from the outdoor food stalls, and the sheer amount of people out and about are enough to overwhelm and at the same time fascinate you.
Along one side of the square is the Marrakesh souk, where alleys are designated for various goods: meat, fabric, jewelry, spices, and leather, to name a few.
Not too far away from the square is the Kotoubia mosque, which is the largest in Marrakech.
It has a plaza with gardens where we hung out and watched people passing by.
The Maison de la Photographie is worth a visit for interesting photos of Morocco. The rooftop dining area also provides amazing views of the sunset and the Atlas mountains.
For more beautiful architecture we headed to the Madrasa Ben Youssef. It used to be an Islamic college but now it is open to the public as a historical site. Tess was the only one who went inside because I had to rest my tired feet. She came out telling me I should’ve gone in and I agree.
The Bahia palace holds a lot of surprises with every turn you make.
A fellow tourist mentioned to us that we should go on a trip to the desert but we already paid for our riad and didn’t want that to go to waste. Instead Tess and I decided to go on a little day trip outside Marrakech with a tour company. We headed to Ourika valley for a different view of the Atlas mountains.
We visited a traditional Berber house and had a little snack of bread and the staple Moroccan mint tea.
There was a little hike to a waterfall but Tess and I decided to stay behind and just relax.
It seems not a lot of Asians visit Morocco so they appeared to be fascinated by us. Every so often people would ask us where we’re from, and they would mention almost every Asian country except the Philippines. 😀
Tess and I took the hop on-hop off city tourist bus to get to the amazing Menara Gardens.
Around the pavillion and water basin are gardens and olive groves.The basin was used to supply irrigation to the surrounding gardens. An old hydraulic system supplied it with water from mountains thirty kilometers away from the city of Marrakech.
Sightseeing sure is exhausting and so we worked up an appetite.Thankfully, the city never runs out of delicious food. You’ll never go hungry whether you’re walking in the main square, exploring in a little alley, or even hiking on a trail in Ourika.
The colors of the city are so distinct and inviting. Anywhere you something is bound to catch your eye.
We have our sights set on that desert trip the next time we come back. Marrakech sure made my first time in Africa very memorable.
If you know how to speak French it will sure come in handy. A lot of people in Marrakech speak the language.
For women, dress in a modest fashion. Morocco is a Muslim country.
Put your haggling skills to the test when shopping in the souk.
The hop on-hop off tourist bus is recommended if you don’t want to do a DIY tour of the city. Keep in mind of the intervals between buses, as there aren’t too many.
A lot of the tourist sights in the Medina are near the Place Jemaa El Fna, so try to get accomodations in the area.