Currently I’m sitting on my balcony at Koh Samui looking through my journal and all my thoughts that I dropped down in Marrakech. It’s been already two weeks since our visit to Marrakech, and all those memories and views are still incredibly vivid in my head.
I felt there’s a huge need from my perspective for a post as such, since during our trip we only relied on travel blogs for our sightseeing and we couldn’t really find anything that interested us. Often the photos many bloggers used, didn’t perceive the beauty of the places and demotivated us completely. Therefore, hopefully you will find my post helpful during your visit to Marrakech and if you’re not planning a visit, try to immerse yourself in my descriptions.
I’m not gonna lie, the main reason for going to Le Jardin Majorelle was the fact it was an extremely photogenic place. It’s not something I want to say but unfortunately it doesn’t look as good in reality as it does on photos, nevertheless it’s definitely worth visiting and it’s beautiful. We have spent there about two or three hours just strolling around despite the fact the garden isn’t too big.
There are no words to describe how amazing the blue walls and the colour itself is, especially when in contrast with the yellows and turquoise. The palm leaves along with enormous cacti’s perfectly contrast with the building while blending at the same time. It’s truly something I’ll never forget.
As perfect as it seems, the building is quite small and all of the visitors focus their attention mostly on the ground floor/patio area, queuing up to take a photo. Therefore, in order to get a good shot without the whole crowd, you will need to wait for a while, until this 5 second spot of emptiness shows up.
I’m a huge collector of tacky souvenirs but also anything exotic, therefore living in a middle of the souk was quite exciting for me. It was not my first time in an Arabic country but for a second I forgot how pushy and obnoxious people can be there. On our first day we got harassed multiple times into buying things or walking into “festivals” etc. As naive as tourists can be, we went to what was called a Colour Festival, which supposedly was there for the one last day (lies, lies, lies). During the colour festival, locals dye wool in the centre of the medina. I’ll admit the view was spectacular however it was set up therefore not really authentic. I ended up buying two scarfs from cactus silk for £80 (yeah I know, ridiculous), I felt super stressed out from the whole harassment and I didn’t yet get used to the currency.
The sellers will also try to sell you real leather or invite you to the tanneries. I find that quite offensive as I’m against buying leather or at least advertising it as something positive and luxurious. In comparison, locals find it offensive when you try to explain that leather isn’t really ethical. Therefore, when buying watch out for the materials as they literally put leather into everything to raise the price.
The prices aren’t as low as they used to be during my first trip, however you can still heavily negotiate in Marrakech. Some sellers will be very unwilling to negotiate, but don’t worry, if one seller doesn’t lower the prices, the next one will.
Usually you can negotiate a price up to 200 DHS lower and possibly 500DHS if you have the nerves and time.
The “fake” colour festival and wool dying
Display only spices (usually they’re not for sale, more of a decoration so don’t get tricked)
The second most popular product being sold after spices
Kuba buying some saffron (There are two kinds you can buy, the cheaper one for 10DHS per gram & the Moroccan one for 30DHS per gram. They can be distinguished by the colour and smell, the cheaper one is usually darker and has a more intense & funny smell)
rom my first visit to Marrakech I mostly remembered the main square, though my memories turned out to be significantly different from the reality. Perhaps it’s the time or just my altered memories.
I felt the square was much more empty than a couple of years before, there were less vendors, less people and it just seemed much emptier. Nevertheless, the square is a nightmare during the day in the heat, so I wouldn’t recommend that. Try to head to the square in the late afternoon or the evening.
The square is full of animal cruelty sights, snakes, cobras and tiny monkeys being used as an attraction for the tourists. It’s exciting but immediately as the tourists walk away you can see the very rough treatment those animals receive.
At the square you can try a glass of a fresh orange or grapefruit juice, which is 1. Amazing & 2. Quite cheap comparing to other places you’ll eat/drink at.
In the evening you can find a spot at one of the rooftop restaurants or cafés to watch the sunset and even have a couple of drinks or a shisha. Since alcohol is banned in Morocco daily, you can only have a drink in certain restaurants, bars or clubs.
I found Riad Yima through the Suitcase magazine’s guide to Marrakech. Riad Yima is the house to many works of Hassan Hajjaj, who is often named the Andy Warhol of Morocco thanks to his pop art inspired art.
When you reach Riad Yima the doors will be closed and you will need to knock, it almost seems like it’s a private house. The whole riad is extremely colourful, with oranges and reds being the prime colours.
I was surprised that you can actually buy almost everything from the riad, all of the works are for sale and they’re not that expensive as you would have thought. The ground floor is dedicated to a shop, while the first floor looks a bit more like a gallery. Personally I found some of the art funny, Hajjaj often uses the Louis Vuitton logo on items which are traditionally Moroccan e.g. stools or slippers.
Definitely worth visiting if you have a spare hour to kill.
This was probably one of the more spontaneous touristy things we did. We saw the photos and decided to go, not knowing where we’re really going and what’s the story behind it. After doing a bit of research we found out that what we have just visited was an Islamic college from the 14th century, that was just closed down in the 60’s.
The building is spectacular, apart from the courtyard’s mosaic and detailed arabesque plaster walls, the inside of felt like a maze. The rooms felt endless, and you could just peep out of tiny windows and see the whole courtyard.
It’s definitely worth visiting as the structure of the building is quite unlike anything I have ever seen.
As we sat down in Le Jardin Secret it was harder than we thought to focus on it’s beauty. Being close to 40 ºC my polyester dress was just not doing it for me that day, I was absolutely boiling.
However as soon as you find shade and let your body cool down, you begin to feel the oasis of the garden. It’s almost as if you go back in time and feel the authenticity of the Arabic aesthetic and traditions. We were lucky enough that on such a hot day not a lot of tourists came out to sightsee.
The garden is divided into two parts, and unfortunately the first part isn’t too impressive so don’t turn around just yet. When you walk in to the main garden, you are instantly amazed by the intense turquoise mosaic lining the floor.
Something unusual that I found interesting was the Arabic hydraulics system which can be seen along the floor. The water is brought from Atlas Mountains and it’s divided in such way that all plants have a water supply along with the fountains.
The Medina of Marrakech is literally a small quarter in the city centre. It’s truly amazing simply because of it’s authenticity and preservation. To be more clear, Medina is a small part of the city filled with tiny narrow streets and passages, surrounded by a wall. Our Riad was in the centre of the Medina therefore we got the full experience first hand. Until the very last minute of our trip I was amazed by the colours and the pink walls, especially when the sun goes down the colours are overwhelming.
If we could we would have probably spent our whole trip wandering around it.
To be a bit more realistic, Medina isn’t perfect. We lived in the more local side of the Medina therefore to reach to the centre of it, we had to pass food stalls and butchers. The smell is horrendous, and if you just imagine a dead animal hanging in 40 degrees from a tiny market stall, you’ll now it’s not something you want to smell every morning.
Bahia palace was definitely not something we even considered when arriving to Marrakech. Both of us are against visiting touristy places, we’d rather get lost in the city and explore more locally. However, on our last day we kind of ran out of things we could do after endlessly scrolling through blogs or guides.
Personally I can’t say much about Bahia as it didn’t impress me as much as it should, probably because it was our last stop. Of course you can see the detailed mosaic and small patio gardens, the architecture is amazing and the palace is quite open and airy inside unlike many places you’ll see in Marrakech.
It’s definitely worth visiting if you have spare time but I wouldn’t put it as a priority.
Many online reviews named Nomad as one of the chicest restaurants in Marrakech, and my initial thought when I entered was „Fuck yes, there’s air conditioning!”. I’m not a huge restaurant connoisseur but when it comes to vegan eating abroad I need to be picky.
The view is overlooking the whole Medina and it’s really amazing, I have nothing more to say. In terms of the food, Nomad gives their classical options a bit of a modern touch. I ordered a regular veggie Tajine and to be honest it’s the best one I ate in Marrakech.
This one probably the only food place we sat at that wasn’t recommended by our friends, probably because as soon as you take a look at the menu someone comes out harassing you into coming in. Nevertheless, we decided to sit down as we were close to starving. Despite our initial mixed feelings, Souk Kafe turned out to be a cute rooftop restaurant with loads of veggie options. It’s a bit quirky with a large straw tea pot (it’s actually enormous), sitting at the top of the rooftop. The food was quite good and actually better than for example in Latitude 31 which is a very posh restaurant, with an almost non existent number of veggie options.
CAFÉ DES ÉPICES
This restaurant was the last one on our list, probably because of it’s name, we just assumed it would be a regular café, nothing special. In the end it turned out to be one of the nicest restaurants we visited. The staff was extremely nice, funny and talkative, while the aesthetic was a modern rooftop with hints of Arabic and exotic style. Basically it looked like a posh restaurant minus the posh/awkward feeling.
Since it was our last night we decided to order a bottle of the grey wine, which is very traditional to Morocco and also greatly praised by all visitors. Grey wine is basically a mixture of white and rose, but it’s much lighter and fruitier. I can say it’s the perfect wine, it’s very delicate, fresh but not sickeningly sweet.
We ended up having two bottles, getting a bit drunk and absolutely enjoying our dinner.