TRIP TO MARRAKECH, 2016
Desperate for some winter sunshine, the boyfriend and I spent copious hours on google trying to pin down the perfect destination for a little November mini-break. November can be a tricky month; anywhere close-by is starting to get chilly and anywhere exotic and warm can be ridiculously expensive so finding a middle ground took a lot of hard work and persistence. I can't deny there weren't a few tantrums and 'I give up' moments during.
It was actually one of my best friends that suggested Marrakech and I'm so very glad she did! We were both instantly sold and booked our flights and accommodation that day. Any excuse to feel more like Princess Jasmin from Aladdin.
Marrakech is made up of two main parts, the new town and the old town which is known as the Medina. We went with a rough idea of things we wanted to see, as well as things we wanted to do, but seeing as London can be extremely stressful at times we also wanted to use it as a time to just... chill.
As I've said, our lives in London can get pretty hectic. The events industry is pretty 'go go go' all the time and my boyfriend works in sales so every once in a while it's nice to have some down time. With that in mind, we used our first day in Marrakech sussing out the area around our hotel, lounging around the pool and soaking up the sunshine. I also booked myself in for a massage at the hotel's spa which was just heavenly!
This was the time to venture out into the 'real' Marrakech. We decked ourselves out in appropriate clothing (best to cover up a bit ladies), put on layers of sun-cream and took a long, long walk to the old town.
We pretty much stayed within the Medina walls, wandering and getting lost in the alleyways and souks - which is easily done. The souks of Marrakech are the heart of Medina and a must-see when you're visiting the city. Even if you're not into shopping, they're still a spectacle well worth experiencing. One thing to note however, they are insane. Make sure you're fully prepared for all your senses to be overwhelmed at once - there's the aroma of spices, as well as motorbike fumes, the feel of the heat, the shouts of the stallholders and the bright colours decking the stalls which are piled high with pottery, leather bags and other goods.
The souks are the ultimate navigational challenge - a labyrinth of narrow alleyways that twist and turn in all directions from the main square, Djeema el-Fna. However good your sense of direction (mine isn't), a few minutes in dimly lit passageways will surely have you totally disorientated. But, go with it. Take whichever direction looks most interesting and no doubt you'll find some delights along the way.
Before we knew it, five hours and a mealtime had passed. Parched and peckish, we somehow found our way out and stopped for a late lunch overlooking part of the main square. I couldn't recommend it more.
We couldn't go to Marrakech and not go camel riding. It had been on my bucket list for years so it was a must-do for both of us. I know there are a lot of different opinions on camel riding, many will argue it's ill treatment toward the camels and in a way I agree so we made sure we did some research and trusted our hotel concierge enough for them to recommend a great company who provided an authentic, well-run and orchestrated trip.
We got picked up from our hotel and were driven to the middle of nowhere where the camels awaited us. I do have to admit, they stunk but you get over that pretty quickly, We were decked out in the full gear; overalls and head scarf and were allocated a camel each.
I tried to retain as much dignity as possible as I jumped on-board and we quickly started our hour-long adventure. To top off the experience, we ended the trip with a cup of freshly brewed mint tea. What more could you want?
This was a half chill, half sight-see kind of day. We mooched around the new town and stumbled across art exhibitions, swanky new developments and most exciting - a shopping mall. Marrakech is unlike any other city I've been to in the sense that you can go from strolling through a run-down area, taking in the culture and original architecture but with a turn you can be met with a four story shopping mall. Diverse would be an understatement.
From the offset, I had my heart set on visiting the Majorelle Gardens. I wouldn't say I follow high end fashion that much, I tend to just take inspiration and adapt trends to suit my own personal style, but Yves Saint-Laurent is just iconic so I had to go and see the gardens for myself. My god it's beautiful! It's a lot smaller than I expected; I think park and I think Hyde Park etc, but despite the size, it was still breath-taking.
The botanical garden features pathways, ponds, fountains and a wide variety of cacti, succulents and other plants, all set against the intense splashes of Yves Klein cobalt blue. It doesn't take long to walk around the gardens, but we spent quite some time sitting on benches and taking in the oasis.
Marrakech definitely isn't for the faint-hearted, it's hot, loud and dusty but that aside, it's one of the most beautiful cities I've visited and I'd happily go back for another adventure!
WHERE WE STAYED: Hotel Marrakech Le Tichka
ONE OF THE MANY GREAT RESTAURANTS I'D RECOMMEND: Azar Restaurant