European {Honeymoon-Inspired} Travel Journal: Marrakech, Morocco

Feb 7, 2013


ENTRY NO.30 // MARRAKECH, MOROCCO

It's time for me to share with you about my trip to Marrakech. Between the fresh mint tea, delicious couscous and getting lost time and time again while shopping in the labyrinth-like souks, there were some good memories made here with my fun + adventurous friend, Kristen. So glad we went and I think Marrakech could be a wonderful spot to include as a blip on an extended honeymoon ... hope you agree:


Just like I expected, the architecture and vibrant colors found in Marrakech wowed me to no end. I felt inspired to bring home some pieces that would hopefully inject a bit of the vitality found here ... you'll see my souk purchases later in the post ...

Hey-o! I'm not allowed to go any further because this was a mosque but isn't the archway pretty?

There were so many amazing photo-ops and so many people I wanted to photograph but I felt too uncomfortable and somehow disrespectful to take many. Also, oftentimes, if you take a photo in Marrakech and someone happens to be in it, they will ask you for money for the image. This mostly applies to the snake charmers / monkey handlers / fortune tellers, etc., in the Jamaa El Fna square but little children will also try to employ this tactic to earn some money. I was never approached for money but I also took a small fraction of the normal number of photos I like to take while traveling. For the shot below, I was able to pretend like I was taking Kristen's photo and later cropped K out. ;)


One of my favorite spots we visited was Jardin Majorelle. The gardens had fallen into disrepair after the owner's {Jacque Majorelle} death until 1980 when French fashion designer/icon, Yves Saint-Laurent, rescued the premises with his artist-friend, Pierre Berge. The colors were intense and cheerful and the intimate size of the gardens felt therapeutic. Beautiful oasis in the middle of a chaotic city.


K&I spent much of our time meandering around the souks {shops selling traditional Moroccan goods along winding cobblestone streets in the Medina}. One of my bigger splurges at the souks was on pillowcases. You can see two of the vintage berber pillows I purchased below - that sweet old guy {who was also a huge Bob Dylan fan! hah!} told us that they were cut from vintage rugs and transformed into pillows. I also bought two pillows that were originally part of Moroccan wedding blankets {which I blogged about here}. You can see a glimpse of those pillows in the last photo of this post. I love the sparkle and shine and the stories they hold - fun conversation piece for our home. :)



One night, K&I decided to eat at the night market in the heart of the medina square. As if on cue, tents will pop up around sunset that hold picnic tables along with an open kitchen displaying the fresh produce and food used to make the entrees. And just like in the souks, there are very persistent and persuasive employees trying to entice you to eat at their restaurant ... and not their neighbor's ... we were an easy sell and sat down at the first tent. We ordered vegetable couscous and soup and it was very good. You can see the chef preparing our meal {above}.


I spotted a few animals for sale in the souks including some chameleons {above}. K thought they looked sickly which made me sad. They were also selling tiny baby turtles.

 

While getting lost in the souks, we stumbled upon the Medersa Ben Youssef which we had wanted to visit anyway. Built by the Saadian sultan, Moulay Abdellah around 1565, it's a stunning example of the golden age of Moroccan architecture.

 
My silly friend, K, enjoying a fresh OJ in the medina square.

 And, last but not least, a BEFORE and AFTER shot:

Our room at Riad Dar More BEFORE we shopped the souks ...

and our room AFTER the souks:

We both bought several berber pillows, Moroccan-style leather slippers, colorful tassels, bowls and vibrant rainbow-coloured poufs. I also bought a mirror frame built out of a Michelin tire :P and Kristen bought a beautiful hanging lantern.

CB's TOP TIPS FOR MARRAKECH:

The souks. You can't visit Marrakesh and not visit the souks. They hold an impressive amount of Moroccan goods and I'm sure you'll find a souvenir {or two ... or twenty} to bring home with you. Do your research, though - the quality can greatly vary. And make sure you get some bargaining practice under your belt before your first purchase. The souk shopowners know how to get you to spend more than you want so stick to your guns and know how much you're willing to part with before you begin negotiating. Also, be wary of people approaching you and telling you they can take you to the best "whatever" shop, etc., in Marrakech. These people can be aggressively pushy and their tempers can flare easily. Just be polite as possible and keep declining and walking away.

Dinner at the night market. I had read in guidebooks that you should steer clear of these or eat very early on in the evening because they tend to wash the plates and silverware in the same water all night long. We sat down in a crowded tent and I'm sure our silverware had been used a few times before us that night. While it was a fun experience, I'd probably caution you with the same advice as the guidebooks. Be careful. I can't pinpoint it but I came home with a very sore throat and didn't want to get out of bed for several days - it might not have been from the night market but I'd be more careful if I ever chose to go back.

The Atlas Mountains. Everyone kept telling us how wonderful an excursion to the Atlas Mountains would be. We simply didn't have time for it but if you do, it sounds like a lovely escape from the hustle and bustle of the market scene in Marrakech.

Jardin Marjorelle. I really enjoyed this little oasis and would highly recommend it. They had a lovely cafe that could be nice to sit for a spell and savor the beauty of the garden.

Where to stay? We stayed at Riad Dar More and had a very pleasant stay. It was located in a tranquil spot and was a nice escape from the frenzy of the streets and souks. It was also very close to the Jamaa El Fna square which was convenient for all of our souk shopping. ;)

Hammams. Unfortunately, K&I did not have the chance to visit one of the famed spas in Marrakech. If you have time, it sounds like the treatments are unrivaled. Enjoy!

Have you been to Marrakech? If you have any tips, insights, suggestions or comments, I'd love to hear them! Happy Honeymooning!

Did you miss the other entries of CB's Travel Journal? Click here to catch up! ;o)


All images by moi.

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