In this edition of my travel dairies, I will be taking you all to the magnificent Morocco with me.
Be prepared for the sensory overload as its chaotic, intense, colourful and an eye-opening experience. From gorging on couscous & tagine, drinking your body weight in mint morroccan tea, hiking, camel riding, cruising the desert to watching the belly dancing, this beautiful country has it all. It’s nothing like you’ve experienced before. It’s certainly not for the faint hearted as trust me you’ll be absorbing so much around you that you won’t get a minute to reflect (until you get home of course!).
Out of all my travels, I found Morocco to be quite unique. The rich culture and vibrancy draws you in completely but just be aware that as a tourist you’ll need to know a few things before hand to keep you safe and your journey running smooth. You live and learn and that’s exactly what happened to me. I’ve been there twice now and let’s just say, the second experience was far better as I was equipped with all the information (and hacks!) I needed. Whether it’s your first time or second, this beautiful country will surely leave an impression.
I’ll be sharing some tips and hacks as I go along, I mean a girls gotta help a girl out. You can thank me later. Ha!
So my journey begins in the heart of Marrakech, where we booked our hotel for our week long trip. Who hasn’t heard of Marrakech right? It’s a vibrant, chaotic and a colourful city that is the heart of Morrocco. You certainly cannot miss it. Our hotel was minutes away from the Central Market in Medina known as D’jema el fana.. It’s literally a sensory overload and you’ll def ‘feel’ it when you get there. It’s almost like you’re living in a different century. I could feel all the Aladdin vibes which I’ll get to a little later on during this post. But for now, can we appreciate the decor of this stunning hotel below..
(the pop of colour is prevalent everywhere in Marrakech – its a bustling colourful city which reflects in its decor too!)
Ahh from coloured glass to stunning marble, this place has it all. I appreciated the outdoor pool as we did go in the heat of the summer and this was def needed. Huge brownie points!
Everything is very regal in design and decor which reflects in the history of the country. You’ll see vibrant colours, regal architecture, royal designs and stunning use of textiles and fabrics.. For a bohemian lover like myself, this place is heaven!
I mean is this even real.. 😮
I stayed in Marrakech which is a chaotic, bustling and a lively city. It was full of history and culture though sometimes a little too noisy and loud but the pros weigh the cons. We were minutes away from the very popular central market square in Medina named D’jema el Fana.. You can hear the loud sound of the musical instruments playing away in the market as you approach it, your senses are overwhelmed by the sight, sound and smell of the square. The aroma of the food reaches the nose, stimulating the sense of smell and enticing shoppers to try their food. It is just heavenly!
There’s so much going on from snake charmers, henna artists, water sellers in fringed hats to belly dancers. No matter where you look, there is something interesting that will catch your eye! As you walk from stall to stall, sellers will be enticing you to come to their shop.. They are also more than welcoming if you wanted to take pictures of their shops.. Please do ask them first though!
(getting my hand done at the D’jema el fena market square- do notice the glitter on top, just so pretty!)
Just a word of caution; I would be a little careful and alert of your surroundings as the touts do forcefully try and sell you things, so avoid eye contact and just move onto the next stall. Keep an eye on your personal belongings and wallets.
It’s busy during the day but wait for the sun to go down and woah, this place turns into a bustling city of noise, sound and lights. The evenings are when this square comes to life.. You really need to come and experience it. It’s totally unique and full of life.
P. s – don’t do what I did during my first trip at the central quare. I was so taken aback by the snake charmers that I whipped my phone out and started taking pictures. Totally harmless right? Oh no, not if you’re in Morocco.. As it finished, I smiled and was about to move onto my next stall. The snake charmer guy came barging by and started demanding money. Unbeknown to me, they allow you to take pictures and then they want you to pay for it. I thought it was free but please do bear this in mind as they are entertainers so will require you pay. Of course, I hadn’t even exchanged my money at that point as we had landed in the evening and we decided to visit the square at night and decided to get our currency exchanged the morning after. What a grave mistake!
He literally followed us throughout the square and we were left red faced. So, please be aware to carry a little money if you plan to stop by and enjoy the entertainment. It isn’t free as we had thought.. As I say I you live and you learn! Sigh 🙄
Our next stop was to explore the cultural heritage, this is where we made our way to the Bahia Palace.
The Palace is simply stunning, we wandered around the numerous rooms and courtyards and admired the colourful mosaic, fountains, intricate woodwork and striking architecture which made this palace a must see! The tour guide also shared the many tales of the Sultans who lived with their wives at the palace.
In the afternoons, we would visit the souks (open air marketplace). The souks are full of intertwining narrow passageways and local shops full of character. You could leave me here all day and I wouldn’t complain but the maze really had me confused.. I did take a few wrong turns… Ssshhh no one needs to know! 😁
You would seriously be spoilt for choice here, so many things to marvel at; spice stalls, carpet shops, artisans, local bakery, perfumes, fragrance oils to souvenirs and so much more.. Totally madness at night. It really felt like Ali Baba’s cave! (All the stories from the Arabian Nights were coming back to me!) Ha!
Top tip: Always keep some money to one side (either in your bag or side pocket). So when a seller tells you an x amount of price for an item, take that money out and say you don’t have any more than that. That’s the final amount you’ll pay for it.
It may not always work but I think it really helped me the second time around. When they see you have a lot of cash in your wallet especially if you’ve just exchanged it, there’s no way they’re going to be settling for your amount. So be aware and smart.
However, I will also add there’s a lot of hard working people who are trying to make a living. So try and not bargain with them as they’re trying to make ends meet. Those few pennies that we are trying to save could mean whether they’ll get their next meal or not. So please be respectful and act accordingly.
(Totally Aladdin vibes in these Souks – its just so easy to get lost so be very careful or you’ll be walking endlessly for hours!)
Another popular stop is the Koutoubia Mosque, which is the largest mosque in Morocco. The mosque serves a spiritual purpose. In Muslim countries, five times a day a muezzin calls out the “adhaan” a call to prayer to all Muslims and so is the case from atop of the Koutoubia Mosque minaret. All I can say is this truly is a memorable experience and an experience beyond the five senses, mind and intellect!
Sadly, I have no pictures as I cannot access my files but here’s a little tomb which had a very interesting story. I cannot recall it now but the guide mentioned it was made in loving memory of a woman by her lover. If there’s any Moroccans out there who know the story, please do share below. I’d love to hear it again!
And of course, you cannot go out exploring and not have a dose of your Moroccan mint tea.. So we did make a stop and fuelled ourselves up for more adventures.. I absolutely loved Turkish tea and I must say, even Moroccan tea was high up on my list. Being a typical brit, you can say it’s a little vice I have.. Let’s leave it to that shall we.. Haha!
My first trip to Morocco was in the summer of 2010. Such a long time ago! I had no idea what I was getting myself into, it was an impulsive trip planned with my friend. A little like putting a dart onto the world map and seeing where it hits.. And that’s exactly what happened. But boy am I glad it did. As I absolutely loved my experience and wanted to come back at some point again. And lo and behold, it did happen a few years ago. However, this time I was further equipped with knowledge and hacks that would make this trip a smooth ride..
I need a whole separate post regarding Moroccan food. So, I’m going to leave that for my next post. But let’s just feast our eyes on the dishes below..
Mmmm delicious 😋
Another tip that I want to share is when you’re in the souks, please be mindful of the locals. Not everyone appreciates being filmed or captured in a photo, so please ask permission first. If they’re not happy, then please be respectful and polite about it.
It’s a busy tourist destination now due to Morocco being a hot favourite for tourists. So you can imagine how difficult it must be for them. It’s the most friendliest country I’ve come across, but don’t just whip out a camera and start filming. There’s lots of local women and children around and it’s just courtesy to ask first.
That being said, it’s just something out of an Aladdin movie. The vibrant colours, dressing, textiles, I could go on and on. It’s def one of my favourite countries and I’m not surprised it’s become a tourist favourite too!
Top tip: The most common thing you’ll notice is (especially in Marrakech), you are going to be bombarded with touts who will be trying to sell you things. So don’t pay any attention, and politely move forward. The pesky things are quite persistent so you may need to really be polite but firm. Always keep an eye on your bag and equipment. It’s become a lot better now I hear but Marrakech and D’jema el fana being such busy places, you don’t want to take any risks. This is with any place around the world, you just need to be vigilant.
Secondly, when you reach the D’jema el fena market square, don’t go by the first quote of the shop seller’s price for an item. They are more than likely to up their prices x 10 if they see a tourist. Don’t be shy as haggling is part of the culture. So always negotiate!
I ended up experiencing a camel ride on my first trip to Morroco which was just so magical. However, I didn’t want to miss an opportunity this time either so yes you’ve guessed it, I got this little fella to join me. Isn’t he just so cute!
And of course, you can’t go to morrocco and not enjoy a quad bike experience. I’m not a physical outdoorsy kinda gal but I must admit you must try everything once. And with much reluctance I did.. Here’s a little pic for you! Oh and minus me, because I wouldn’t want you to see a screaming me on a bike now! 👀
Gosh, I still remember it was really hot that day. I remember being so exhausted by the end of it. We went to a nice place to try out some local cous cous and tagine, and surprisingly we also ended up seeing a bunch of belly dancers dancing away. It was quite an experience!
We also visited Fes, the Atlas Mountains and the blue city of Chefchaouen. It’s become a recent Instagram worthy spot and so many people have taken stunning pictures over on their Instagram pages. It truly was so enchanting. I’ll do another part 2 series to cover all those places. I’m sure you’ll love it as much as I have loved being there.
There is just so much more to share but sadly not enough time. I have to say Morocco has been one of my personal favourite places to visit, you can really immerse yourself and discover both the traditional and modern side to this stunningly beautiful country. You really need to visit if you haven’t been and put it on your bucket list!
I’m going to be leaving you with a lovely picture of the sun setting in our hotel. Enjoy!
Have you been to Morrocco? What was your experience like? Do you have any hacks that could help our readers out? Please do share below..
Oh and I do share these travels series on my Instagram stories first, so why not pop over and say hello!
Instagram : here
Until next time,