Traveling to my beloved Curaçao is always a good idea and even though I think you should never change a winning team, I vowed to discover some new destinations from now on. Starting with my first solo trip to Bali last year, a trip to Marrakech was on a solid second place on my wish list. Because 1: it is super photogenic. 2: just a couple of hours away from Amsterdam. 3. hardly any time difference so no jetlag for a change. 4. I am totally in love with the whole Marrakech interior vibe/look (shoppings). I don’t like to make the same mistake twice so unlike my overpacked suitcase to Bali, I was going to travel very light this time (turns out I packed too light and had to shop for clean clothes?). Whenever I travel to a new destination I leave room for spontaneity but also bring a ‘to see’ list. On the list: sleep in a traditional riad, do some souk shopping, visit hotspots for the blog and visit the late Yves Saint Laurents house. Are you planning on visiting Marrakech in the near future? And want to know what the do’s and don’t are in the Pink city? Keep on reading and bookmark this post, you’re welcome.
1. Sleep in a riad
In stead of staying in a regular hotel I wanted a real Moroccan experience and sleep in a riad. A riad is a traditional Moroccan house (sometimes even a small palace) with a little courtyard garden in the centre. In the old days a riad would house entire (wealthy) families. Having two floors, at least six rooms, separate dining rooms, that wouldn’t be a problem. The moment you enter a riad you forget being in a very busy city. You’re totally secluded and have a lot of privacy (one of the reasons these riads were build). These days riads are used as hotels or bed & breakfast and for around 40 bucks you can stay in a very pretty one.
2. Magic carpet ride
My Marrakech trip wouldn’t be complete without getting a typical Berber rug. Hence the half empty suitcase. ‘Running into something’ didn’t apply because there was so much to choose from! So research before you buy and make sure you measure the part where you want your rug to be. Even after frantically checking my Pinterest boards I ended up buying what I intended not to buy ?(the famous Instagram rug)(more about this in a next post) Also, make sure you do some research on the prices online. Even though bargaining is a must, often you end up paying too much anyway (right, Mishanou?) Amongst the other shoppings were a kelim pouf and some kelim pillow cases (actually I just bought these because the seller was very handsome..?).
3. Funky cold medina
I could have easily spend my entire vacay here. Walking around the souks of Marrakech was like walking in an Arabian fairy tale. Before getting to the souk you need to cross a big square, the well-known Jama el Fna. Just make sure you avoid getting close to the tourist attractions like the dancing monkeys (which are treated very poorly) and snake charmers. If you don’t want a half sedated snake around your neck, don’t go near this part of the square. When you finally get to the souk it’s shopping heaven. pompom bags, babouches, kelims, lamps, herbs. In short, enough to spend your holiday bonus.
4. Get ready to shoot
Not a wrong word, Marrakech is every photographers dream. So colorful. I especially loved the collision of the modern and the traditional Moroccan lifestyle. If you want some kick ass Instagram pics make sure you visit the these hotspots: Riad BE (prettiest Riad I’ve seen), Hotel La Mamounia and Riad Le Jardin secret (not to be mistaken with the secret garden). But to avoid getting disappointed: call in advance to make a lunch reservation or even a spa reservation (at Hotel La Mamounia) to get in.
5. Roof top
In the middle of the souk, where you’ll find the ladies customizing pompom bags, you’ll also find some cool rooftop restaurants. Café de Epices are Nomad the most popular ones and if you want to be secured of a seat on the rooftop, yes make sure you make a reservation online. Nomad is famous for its Nomad burger, but I suggest you try their fish ball tajine in stead! And for dessert, the avocado, date, cinnamon smoothie. Nomad, 1 Derb Aarjan Marrakech Medina.
6. Tour du jour
There’s more to just shopping and sight seeing when in Marrakech. Unfortunately closed for a massive renovation but in about two years you can visit the beautiful mosque (and former koran school) Ben Youssef again. Need a breather from the busy souk? You can relax in ‘the secret garden’ Le Jardin Secret and have an coffee break. Through different agencies you can book quad tours, sand safaris, a trip to the Atlas mountain or Sahara.
7. Beach please
The only downside to Marrakech is: there are no beaches! But grieve not, they solved this issue by means of Nikki Beach Marrakech. Not the cheapest alternative for a day at the beach but at least there’s good music, good food and beautiful people. On Sundays there’s an amazing brunch (the sushi was to die for). It will take you about 15 minutes to get there from Marrakech’ city centre. Ready to marry the night? Get a reservation at Comptoir Darna (belly dancer meets dinner meets dj), Jad Mahal dance on the table after dinner, or club hopping around the many hotel clubs.
8. Yves Saint Laurent
Of course this was on my list. Visit the house where the late fashion icon Yves Saint Laurent lived until his passing in 2008. The bright blue house, designed by the French artist Jaques Majorelle became his in 1980 and still is a very popular landmark today. Yves was very devoted to Marrakech and many of his collections were inspired by the beautiful city. You’ll find out all about it when you visit the next door museum. After his passing, his ashes were scattered around the Majorelle garden.
To visit here also applies, please go early to avoid all the tourists (which we are not of course ?) so you can take pictures in peace. Tip of the day: make sure you visit the museum first: you can get tickets for the Majorelle garden as well and you don’t have to stand in line anymore?.
Some other tips for your Marrakech trip:
-the souk can be an maze even Google maps can’t get you out of. If someone offers to guide the way, just know they will be expecting you to pay them afterwards. Just a smile and a ‘no, merci!’ will do the trick
-out of my way! Don’t be surprised when even in the narrow streets of the souk you will be passed by motorbikes. Even at spots where it seems impossible. The vendors need to get their gear from a to b and really don’t care about pedestrians. Just be careful.
-cash cash, money money. To avoid spending half of your precious vacay days looking for an ATM be sure to withdraw or change money at the airport. There are not a lot of ATM’s around and the Dirhams that you have left (which I doubt you’ll have) you can change them back.
-there’s a dress code. The people of Marrakech are used to tourists, and their outfits but still, dress appropriately. It is a Muslim country you are visiting. So out of respect, cover up. Unlike the girl in booty shorts and no bra I saw standing in line at customs…?
-take some time to visit a traditional hammam. Perfect to relax after a busy day and/or to fly back home fresh and clean.
Definitely will visit Marrakech again, who’s joining me??