Photo Journal: Magical Marrakech
I just arrived back into the UK from a wonderful few days in Morocco. The majority of my time was spent in the gorgeous city of Marrakech, which is the home of many colorful markets and interesting people and sights to see. I will post more detail of my trip in some upcoming posts, but first I wanted to show off some of the amazing shots I took while roaming the streets of this unique and beautiful city.
A couple months ago, RyanAir was having a celebratory sale by giving 25% off flights booked for January. Since I had been wanting to go to Morocco, I decided to use this discount on a trip before the second semester started, so I got a round trip for only £38, which is too great. I then booked a hostel, had a friend ask if she could join me, and started preparing myself for my first time in a culture so different from my own.
After catching the earliest flight ever, we touched down in Marrakech around 11am, found our taxi ride to the hostel and set out through the streets of the city. The first thing I noticed was the gorgeous colors. Even in just the ride from the airport to the hostel we already got a small taste of the pinks, tans, orange and yellows that show up everywhere. A guide met us as we departed the taxi to take us through the winding streets to our accommodation. I chose Hostel Waka Waka because of it's perfect location and cheap prices, and I am glad I did. We were greeted with mint tea (the best tea I've ever drank) and cookies as we checked in. The beds weren't very comfortable, but that's what you give up when you choose budget accommodation.
We set out into the city after a quick rest and wandered to the Jemaa el Fna, which is the large market which has a variety of freshly squeezed orange juice stands, henna artists, people with monkeys and snakes, and then at night, becomes a place to get some of the best food Marrakech has to offer. Near the market is the entrance to the Souks, which is where you can find all the traditional items one would come to Morocco for. Spices, scarves, scents and oils are everywhere, and you're expected to haggle. Thankfully I was completely broke during this trip, or I would've bought everything in sight.
We stopped to get our first meal at a little cafe, and I was immediately pleased with the food choices in this city. As someone who loves meat, bread and couscous, I knew I wouldn't have any trouble finding something on the menu to enjoy. Overall, I had some of the best cooked beef, lamb, vegetables and couscous I've ever eaten. I'm going to have to find a Moroccan food place in London so I can continue eating this great cuisine.
Our day was spent mostly just exploring this older part of the city, before retreating to the hostel to smoke hookah and relax. We decided to do an excursion the next day (which I shall be posting about soon), and hung out in the hostel and met some very wonderful people (as well as some horrible ones too). We made friends with a fellow duo of travelers, who we decided to go to the Sahara Desert with the next morning. This horrible girl decided to start a fight with me about how I liked to shop at Primark, at which point a trio of very friendly Australians came over to save me from her and we started to talk instead.
After we arrived back from our desert trip the next day, we decided to eat dinner at Jemaa el Fna during the evening when all the wonderfully tasty food is out. The market gets a bit crazy and loud at night, but it was a very interesting atmosphere, where you feel both safe and a bit on your guard at the same time. I got more couscous and meat from a place called "Chez Aicha," and feasted happily on the best orange juice I've ever tasted from the vendors who squeeze it for you right in front of your eyes.
Our last day in Marrakech consisted of use trying to find some things on our map. We went all the way to the Royal Palace, only to find out that you can't actually go in, so we tried to look for another palace to go to, and on our way, a guy was trying to get us to follow him, which we stupidly did, because he of course led us down some creepy alleyways and to his brother-in-law's shop, where they tried to sell us a bunch of stuff and then got angry when we told them we needed to leave and wouldn't pay him for this "tour." We eventually got to the Bahia Palace, which was beautiful inside. The walls were designs in stone, which must've taken years to complete.
Our last major site was the Ben Youssef Madrasa, which used to be an Islamic college. If I went to school there, I would've been way too distracted with how ornate it was, because it was majestic indeed. We spent the rest of our day wandering back through the city and souks, had dinner at the same place again, and then went to bed so we could catch our flight in the morning. I know deep in my heart that I will be returning to Morocco again in the future. Even though the culture is not very kind to women travelers (I was called names like Oprah, Lady Gaga, Jamaican, Brown Sugar, Beyonce, Busty and more, which sounds flattering, but not with their intentions), I think that if you can get over a bunch of annoying street sellers harassing you and everyone trying to take your money for even the smallest thing (no free toilets? Why?) the beauty of the place overcomes all of that, and makes it very worth the trip.