FEBRUARY 2019 Marrakesh, Morocco
My husband and I chose to make the trip to Marrakech, Africa -new country, new continent along with new cultures and language. Got to check this one off of our Bucket List!
We choose to take a cab as close as we could to our Riad- which was right off of the main square Jamaa el Fna (200 Durams or 20$). Jemaa el-Fna is a square and market place in Marrakesh’s medina quarter. It remains the main square of Marrakesh, used by locals and tourists. On our walk in to the Riad we took through the markets and saw everything from rugs, blankets to jewelry, traditional spices and Tajin dishes made in Morocco.
The name of our hotel was the Riad Le Rubis and cost us around 90$ a night. The location was great, we were very centrally located, but also right in the middle of the busy bustling streets that don’t stop until 1 or 2 in the morning.
Checked into hotel and headed over to dinner where we tried some traditional Moroccan dishes in Tajins. I chose a chicken lentil dish and husbands was couscous chicken with moroccan spices.
After dinner we walked around the Medina. Grabbed a FRESH mixed fruit juice and pomegranate juice squeezed right in front of us. As we wondered around we ran into the Koutoubia Minaret- largest mosque in Marrakesh, and the gardens that surround it.
Day 2 in Marrakech – Adventure time!
We booked a tour through TripAdvisor that was camel rides and ATV rides in the Desert (not really). We woke up and roamed around to find coffee and food. Found decent place at Cafe Laksour – had good coffee and made us an Omelet (which he literally walked across the street to buy the ingredients) and then headed out at 9 am for our tour. The food was pretty cheap only cost us 56 durams (Morroccan Money).
Once we were picked up for the tour guides we had to take a ride maybe 30-40 minutes out of the city. The Camel and Quad Tour cost us around 100$ each.
The camels were a pretty amazing site to see, although we were not in the real Sahara Desert… (sad face) It was still a cool adventure, not many times in your life can you say that you have ridden and actual camel, and even more in Morocco! They took us out and around with the camels and then took us to a traditional Moroccan home where they showed us how to make the Mint tea and served us with YUMMY Moroccan pancakes!!
After the camels came the quad bikes…. at this point in the day it decided to rain and this was COLD rain. I wasn’t not the happiest person by the end but the excursion through small villages I would call them – was very much an eye opening experience.
Day 3 – Travel to the Ouzoud Falls
We planned to do another excursion because honestly one day is plenty when in the city of Marrakech to knock out the souvenirs or keepsakes you might want to barter or haggle for in the markets/souks and to see all of the the touristy highlights.
Woke up and headed to the Medina area where the trip was to pick us up at 8 in which nothing really opens until later but the fruit stands were open! We grabbed one for the road which was about 60 durams for 3 different fruits in one smoothie. So delicious and fresh 🙂
The trip was out of Marrakech about 3 hours to the waterfalls –Ouzoud falls! This tour cost us around 50 euros total. Ouzoud Falls are the highest waterfalls in Africa at 110 m high.
The tour also included a boat ride at the bottom of the falls where they took you all the way up to the bottom of the falls! I thought we were all going to get soaked! BUT the man driving the boat knew what he was doing! 🙂
On our walk up to the falls our guide showed us the Olive trees that many of the Berber (Native people of North Africa – Berber, barbarians) families own – marked with paint to show who owns which tree. He gave us some brief history on the trees and that it takes 7 years for a newly planted olive tree to produce any olives. CRAZY
Our guide told us that a home is made to house the entire family -the girls once married are sent away to live with the mans family, once a boy is born the family “adds” a new room on to the home (expecting him to become married). The Berbers are persistent on learning new languages and require the children to start to learn 4 languages in Kindergarten and by university age they must know 9 or they are not allowed to go on at that point.
On the other side of the falls there were MONKEYS, wild monkeys – everywhere! We bought a few peanuts and started to feed them and they would jump up on you to eat the peanuts out of your hands. We walked to the very top of the waterfall and at the top it was time for lunch. We were served a 3 course traditional Moroccan meal. CousCous with veggies, lamp Tajinn – all served with Moroccan style bread. Then for dessert, fresh oranges and bananas.
Once we took the 3 hour track back home it was time to again find food – and this time we decided to try the street food or market food in the Jamaa El-Fna. We just randomly chose one of the many that are being offered to you as you walk through the market. It was super delicious and all of the food was made right in front of us -we tried the Moroccan soup and a couple of Pastilla et Poulet, sausage on the grill and some bread with dipping sauces. It was everything you could want from the streets of Marrakech. We also only paid 120 durams for our entire meal! THIS is definitely a must try as you are in Marrakesh and in the area, it is kind of a daunting experience with all of the overload of people pulling you one direction or the other, but once you sit down they take care of you and make sure you get what you need.
Day 4 – Smack a Cobra!
On day four we woke up and had breakfast in our hotel, then we headed out to mail a couple of post cards at the post office (super easy to do -if you like to mail items from a new location, we just found the post office off of the Medina – bought stamps and put them in the international mail).
We made a stop in the Jamaa el Fna… for the extremely large tourist trap of taking pictures with snakes and cobras. It still got my heart racing and was an experience I can and will be talking about for the longest time. My husband actually held a cobra as the man was holding a large cobra in my face and a snake was hanging around my neck. OMG.. I freaked but smiled for the pictures.
My husband was all about this and it was on his bucket list to “smack a cobra”. NOT so much on my list but I joined in on the picture and I was glad that I did. 🙂 A neat and different “to say that you did” experience!
After the Cobra charming… we started to roam the streets…finding some cool Moroccan souvenir! As we did this we ran into a cafe that played up the Beatles theme called Koulchi Zine. They had an amazing rooftop where we soaked in some rays and ordered pastilla… again 😉 a coke and a fruit juice for 180 Dirhams.
Something that kept popping up in our research was the Le Jardin Secret. It cost us like 50 Dirham each, and in both of our opinions… not really worth it. Don’t get me wrong, the garden was beautiful and was kept in great care, but it is just that… a garden. We took our time in the garden since we just spent money to walk through cacti and trees. At the top of the garden was a small little bar where you could get coffees and cakes, so we just relaxed and enjoyed the time taking in the beautiful morning. 🙂
Make sure to check out or even stay in the Guilere area ( we found this later in our trip). It is an updated and more modern area away from the busy area and hustle and bustle that is the Médina. It is very relaxed – but can also catch you off guard if you are to wonder in a wrong area.
While we were roaming through and getting lost in the streets I started looking for a leather back pack that I kept seeing. My husband made me haggle for the price my self and I would say I am pretty happy … the price of the bag was 300 and I got it for 220 ;). These were my two take away from the crazy Souks!
It should only be 100 Dirham from downtown to airport – On our way in we were “caught as a tourist” and paid 200 Diram, and on the way out we were quoted 100 Dirham ($10 difference) but we learned ;). We also showed early to our gate and we were glad that we did… check in was packed. BUT the security was empty and it was a breeze to make it through.
Things I couldn’t get enough of during our stay! Cats – Sunsets – Fruit and fruit juices – Camels – and Pastilla!
This was it for Marrakesh but not the end of our travels… We were catching a flight to Lisbon, Portugal next!