Meeting Marrakesh

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Morocco. Our latest trip brought me to a new city and a new country.  To a place that had never been on my top ten but one I knew I would go to eventually.  A place of romance.  Of history.  I went in search of my roots.  Of the stories I grew up on.  Of adventure.  Of exploration.

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Travel seemingly has gotten harder with time.  Life is so busy and so full that there is little time to plan, to dream, to even get excited before leaving.  It is pretty much just about showing up and seeing what you find.  (Not that I mind that…and even kind of like it.)  However, I did come prepared with a plethora of information and recommendations from friends and Instagram friends.

My family and I selected Marrakesh for no other reason than ticket prices.  They were cheap, and as we only had a handful of days, it seemed like a good option.  So Marrakesh it was.

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What to Do in Marrakech:

Walk the streets.  Just wander.  Explore.  Get lost (not really).  But get away from the center of action.  From the tourists and the main center.  I don’t think we were able to even scratch the surface of the maze of alleyways through the old city.  The best and only way to see the city.  Just be aware of landmarks.  We had no problem finding our way around.  Thankfully there was a good landmark by our riad, so it was always easy to stay oriented.

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El Badi Palace – Ruins which are now a beautiful, quiet garden of archways and tiles.

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Bahia Palace – The tiles.  The architecture.  Not to be missed.

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Next time:  La Jardin Majorelle and venturing outside of Marrakech, specifically the High Atlas Mountains

Where to Shop:

To try to describe the shops and their locations would be fruitless.  I could direct you how to wander through the streets to the places we loved and found the best deals.  But maybe that is part of the charm of Marrakech, stumbling upon your own discoveries and making your own bargains.

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Where to Eat in Marrakech:

Unfortunately, I feel like we didn’t get enough or really satisfy cravings.  There was so much to do and see and so little time.  I always recommend street food.  Especially in such a sweet country that is truly hospitable.  We only got street food twice, but loved how the men put cardboard down for us to sit on and gave us food on plastic plates which were to then be returned.  So sweet and thoughtful.  The people of Morocco truly were endearing.

La Mamounia:  Of all the wonderful places I have been, this will always leave an impression in my mind.  The service and etiquette exhibited was far beyond what I have experienced in a long time and a lesson in respect and hospitality.  The staff have been trained superbly.  Impressed to say the least.  The whole experience.  Such a treat.  We went for afternoon tea.  For history sake, both our country’s and our families.  Famous for the fact that Roosevelt and Churchill met to discuss World War II, but sentimental because my grandparents had stayed here long ago in their travels.  La Mamounia was a tranquil oasis amidst the chaos of the city.  We lounged and drank tea and eat macarons and Moroccan pastries.  One of the highlights of our time.

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I forget the name of this one, but it was perfectly located right by our riad, an easy and delicious place to eat dinner while the sun sets.  We were served a fresh juice of the day when seated along with cumin olives.  Definite recommendation:  the lamb tagine.IMG_1015

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Where to Stay:

Riad Amin:  The loveliest of riads.  So perfectly situated at the south end of the city walls, out of the center of the old city and away from all the tourists.  They were so hospitable and everything was gorgeous.  So well decorated.  So lovely.  So relaxing.  It was wonderful to come back to each day.  The welcome and care we received was beyond what we expected.  One thing of note, I don’t recommend leaving your windows open during the night.  The prayer calls were shocking the first night.  So loud and continuously throughout the night.

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What I loved most:

The people.  So gentle, kind, and hospitable.

The architecture.  I could not get enough and feel I must return to soak in more.

The tiles.  The color.  The design.  The craftsmanship.  Incredible.

Things of Note:

I don’t recommend a guide.  Let yourself wander and explore.

Be prepared to have people want to guide you and always trying to sell you things.  And honestly, as for engaging, just say no thanks and keep walking.  I don’t feel like you have to be overly rude.  But whatever you feel comfortable with.

We had heard stories about women traveling alone, but had absolutely no problem.  Just dress and act responsibly.  Use commonsense.

We were so thankful to have arranged airport pickup with our riad.  We arrived quite late at night and it was so nice not to have to try and navigate a new country in the dark with no idea of our location.

We withdrew cash at the airport but there were also ATMs in the new city as well as money change places in the old city.

 

 

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