A few weeks ago Joe and I decided we fancied a christmas break, somewhere a bit different and where we could have cultured fun. A few days ago we hopped on the plane at London Gatwick and after a few hours flying we landed in Marrakech, Morocco.
We arrived to blue skies and hundreds of terracotta buildings.
We were dropped in the medina (the old city) as close as possible to our Riad and were taken by a porter through the little alleyways and cobbled streets. These aren't the smart porters that come dressed in uniform with suitcase trolleys instead they are dressed in rags with huge wheelbarrows they chuck your cases in.
We arrived at our Riad, which from the exterior was a a big black door sunken slightly into a brick wall with an A4 sign saying 'Dar El Souk'. This was the last thing that I had expected, it didn't look big enough to be a shop let alone the place we were staying. However, the door opened and we were greeted by a lovely elderly English lady and taken into a beautiful Alladin's Cave. Riads are very different from hotels as they are converted Morroccon houses, normally family owned, and have around 8-10 rooms so tend to be more personal and intimate. They are very traditional within primarily Islamic countries and so the outside attempts to show no wealth and have no windows, being as simple as possible.
We started our trip with homemade chocolate truffles and mint tea then decided to dump our bags and began exploring. We decided to check out the main plaza DJeema El Fna first.
A huge open square in the centre of the medina, filled with snake charmers, monkeys (sadly with no tails) and donkeys carrying heavy loads. But the real buzz is hidden in the huge maze of Souk's that surround the square in the ruins of the medina. Cotton, leather, spices, kaftans and shoes are all grouped together in market stalls. That was when the bargaining began; it's not easy, I'm a small blonde girl and have 'Tourist' written on my head, but with Joe's amazing French I managed to barter down a cute little silver tea set to a quarter of the original asking price, which probably made it just fair.
We are planning on ways to bring this cutie home... Save Shecky!
Both being very overwhelmed by our first experience of Marrakech, we decided to take a trip away from the hustle and bustle to the Majorelle Gardens, a respite from the busy city streets. Plenty of plants and romantic walkways but we were a little too immature to be somewhere so quiet. Joe ended up trying to pick flowers for me (sweetie) and I got over excited about the fish.
Got myself a little hat.
The garden also contained a memorial for Yves Saint Laurent and a museum too. I read a biography on him a few summers ago and he is an extremely talented man!
After a day rich in culture, we headed to one of Marrakech's nicest restaurants, Azar. We were treated to some traditional Morroccon food full of flavour. The mezzes to start were delicious - we had mince stuffed in a thin bread and some lamb sausages. For main our first tagine in Morocco, with preserved lemon, green olives and currents mopped up with freshly baked bread.
After dinner we headed up to their balcony/bar area for shisha and cards.
Me showing off my 'O's :-)
More Moroccan madness to come!