Marrakech is incredible.
It exudes an eclectic charm of Orientalist Arab decadence, African soul and European finesse. I was so awestruck by the experience that it wasn’t until I had returned home, and had a chance to fully digest my trip, that I was truly appreciative.
We went in April as a large group of friends, which was a perfect time of year to travel there: it was warm enough to sit poolside, but not so hot that we were sweltering while getting lost in the souks.
The souks truly are something to behold. The smell of damp leather and spices surrounded us as we ducked under handcrafted bags and rubbed up against other tourists and locals. As we wove through the maze of tapestries, ornate shoe shops, stray kittens and spice vendors, one particular vendor caught our attention. We followed him through a small inconspicuous door, and my breath was taken away. We had somehow entered a giant, wooden room filled to the brim with silver wear. Above our heads hung opulent silver lamps accented with jewel-toned glass. Traditional tea sets sat on every available surface and sparkly trinkets set light reflecting all over the room. It was truly awesome, in the literal sense of the word.
The main square in the center of the souks, Jamaa el-Fnaa, is an absolute must see while in Marrakech. Although it wasn’t quite the highlight of my trip (I’m not the biggest fan of children trying to pickpocket me, or of snake charmers and their cobras perching mere meters away), here is where you’ll find beautiful olive and spice stands and have a real chance to feel the hustle and bustle of the marketplace. Talk about sensory overload! You’re engulfed in music, dancers, peddlers and smoke from nearby food stands with the smells that accompany them. While at first I was a little skeptical of such a touristic spot, I have to admit it was truly enchanting. Standing in the market you can’t help but feel the presence of merchants and travellers from the past. One of the evenings we ate a traditional Moroccan meal overlooking the square, followed by a horse and carriage ride across Jamaa ed-Fnaa by night. Wow! The liveliness that we experienced during the day was only amplified in the evening. Perhaps it was the way the strings of lights overhead and fires from the grill illuminated everything, but either way, this is an absolute recommendation for anyone.
Marrakech is a great place to find a balance between taking in a new culture, and finding time to unwind. You could easily spend a whole day being pampered at your hotel hammam, or fill your days with adventure. We opted for the latter, and jam-packed our days with ATV tours through the desert, and hiking through the Atlas Mountains. Marrakech is even home to a Nikki Beach club, so of course we indulged in an afternoon of drinking rosé and dancing poolside.
My only regret from the trip is not purchasing more Moroccan mint tea, or a silver tea set to serve it in. I’ve often purchased souvenirs just to have them take up suitcase space, and then get them home to realize they don’t suite my décor, or aren’t nearly as practical as I had thought. I hesitated on the purchase because of past experience, but the tea sets are classical, they fit easily with most interiors, and many of the proper shops will ship it to wherever you’d like at a minimal cost.
I could go on about Morocco for days, and still not do it justice. It’s a place that can be tailored into a trip for anyone’s vacation style. If this is somewhere you have yet to go, make sure to put it on your bucket list right away!