After watching “Keeping Up with the Joneses” on a flight last year, I had to book a trip to Marrakech. The spy families made it seem so fantastic and my only other Morocco experiences have been surfing in Agadir and Tangier.
Both were fun. Agadir was relaxing and Tangier was exotic. Marrakech looked exotic and relaxing at the same time – however it’s not as easy to get to as I thought.
Most flights take you into Casablanca, then you have a long boring layover (and that airport is small and not interesting). To maximize my time, what I did was fly into Casablanca and then hire a car to drive me to my riad/hotel in Marrakech. Not only was the price nearly the same as flying, but I got door-to-door delivery and I got there faster than waiting for the flight.
I did consider renting a car and driving myself, but was glad I didn’t. These ancient cities don’t have street names, and the roads in the Kasbah are tiny. Also, the entrance to the hotel is not like in the Western world. In Marrakech, everything is behind a “wall” so you just see a doorway — and it’s easy to miss if not paying attention.
STAYING IN A RIAD
Riads in Morocco are large traditional houses that are built around a courtyard. Many have been converted into boutique hotels. Mine was called Les Jardins de la Medina and it was stunning.
Located inside the Kasbah area, each room in my riad was unique. Mine had a large patio overlooking the courtyard to enjoy tea in the morning while reading. They had sprinkled rose petals everywhere (something I always thought was cheesey, but totally loved when it was my room that was decorated), and gave me a complimentary bottle of wine to enjoy during my stay. Bonus!
I picked this particular place as it’s the only one in the Kasbah with a garden so you have the contrast of the marketplace outside the door and then peace and tranquility when you return.
Contrary to what you might think, the Kasbah area was safe. Yes, you will have to barter for everything (I hate doing that), but people are helpful and you can find everything from spices to clothing to lanterns.
I went during Ramadan so the experience was a little unique as the locals can’t eat or drink until sundown. This meant that all the cafes were empty during the day, and the market area packed at night. The bonus was that in the early morning, the area was deserted so I could take photos of the architecture without having people in the way.
If going, keep in mind that this a Muslim country so wearing tank tops or shorts are not a good idea. I wore long skirts with a shawl the first couple of days and then I couldn’t resist buying a colorful djellaba like the locals. This is a long, loose, hooded garment with full sleeves. No idea where I will wear this bright blue outfit with sparkly embroidery now, but was fun while there.
For me the highlight was drinking Moroccan mint tea in cafes. I guess in Morocco, it’s just mint tea. I think I had 3 times a day in different places as I couldn’t get enough of it. It’s the whole experience pouring from the fancy tea pot, sipping and people watching that makes you really feel like a world away.