Morocco was undeniably an experience I will never forget. For those of you that have read my previous post, you will perhaps understand why. (I recommend giving it a read before this one as it helps lay the context!) This post today is all abut Morocco, the sights I saw, the places I visited and all of that typical travel stuff.
Before I went to Morocco I had read up on many blogs about places to see and things to do. As a blogger myself I love reading other blogs and always find peoples personal experiences on their blog a lot more helpful than reading some travel site that may or may not have sponsors/links with various places. Practically every single blog I read said how you will fall in and out of love with Morocco whilst you’re there and this is very true. The first couple of days I was like “why do people rave about this place so much?”, “not quite sure whether we will even find enough things to do/see for the week we’re here…”.
Needless to say, I didn’t fall in love with Morocco straight away. Maybe it was partly down to the personal situation I was in (see last post) that meant I wasn’t completely feeling the love. But I think it was also partly down to the chaos of Marrakech itself. I’ve been very fortunate that I have been able to travel to many places, including others with a “chaotic vibe”, but Marrakech was like no other.
The Jemâa El-Fna was definitely the source of this love/hate relationship. It was like being stuck back in time thousands of years ago, an element I absolutely loved. It felt amazing to have stepped into a place so preserved through the years. However, being stuck back in time also had its downsides. I found it so difficult seeing all of the donkeys and horses being forced to carry heavy loads during the intense heat for tourist purposes, these poor animals looked severely malnourished and abused so I got angry every time we saw them. Then there’s the monkey’s chained at the neck dressed up in children’s clothes all for a photo for tourists. Again anger from me. The same goes for the snakes and birds all trapped and drugged up for tourist photos. The square is swarmed with men trying to get photo opportunities for money with these poor abused animals so I definitely found it hard to fall in love with the square with that all going on.
Early in the morning, before all of these stalls were set up, I did like the square. It had a friendly atmosphere and the chaos was a lot less than the nights.
The El Bahia Palace was so beautiful and definitely a must see for me! I fell in love with the architecture of the building and thought it was just beautiful!
I highly recommend, if you can brave the busyness of it all, heading to the square late at night and grabbing an orange juice from one of the many stalls. It baffles me how any of them make a living as there is literally hundreds of juice stalls all selling the same thing for the same price right next to each other. We started a little game and would go to whoever shouted the best things to us as we walked past.
We did two day trips during our week; one to the windy city of Essaouria and the other to the beautiful Ouzoud Falls. Both of which are a three hour bus away from Marrakech. We headed to Essaouria first and it was well worth the trip. Having been in around 40 degree heat in Marrakech to step off the bus into a windy low 20’s was an absolute delight. The breath of sea air was fully welcomed for sure! The little walled city again had me a bit nervous at the start “we travelled all this way for this…” were definite thoughts in my head. But again, after the initial nerves this ancient city won my heart.
Although busy with tourists like ourselves, it definitely felt way less chaotic than Marrakech. The streets were inviting and friendly and we felt far less hassled than in Marrakech. I popped into a really lovely pottery shop and bought a beautiful mug and bowl; something I’d felt far too pressured to do in Marrakech. The views from the North Bastion were breathtaking, even though the wind was absolutely beating us!
Ouzoud Falls was also 100% worth the 6 hour round trip by bus. It was probably our hottest day and, with the fact that we were out in the sunlight all day, the sweatiest. Apart from the fact that our tour actually forgot to pick us up, the tour company we went with were amazing. It was rather comical to phone them at 9am, with pickup times being 8-8:30am to ask them where they were and to be met with a “Oh S**t, I’ll phone you back” from the tour guide. They’d forgotten to get us but swiftly came and collected us within about 2 minutes: Moroccan’s know how to drive fast!
The views were absolutely amazing. We started at the very top of the falls and then walked down one side, crossed at the bottom in a little row boat before hiking up the other side and being rewarded with a lovely tagine at the top. Despite it being one of the most painfully hot days, it was probably one of my favourites. For those of you that know me (or follow me on Instagram) you’ll know how much I love me a waterfall! There’s something about them I just love, I don’t know why! I find them magical I guess, and peaceful.
My top 5 things to do in Marrakech:
- Drink orange juice in Jemâa El-Fna
- Day trip to Ouzoud Falls
- Enjoy a tagine and Virgin Mojito overlooking the square at Café Kessabine
- Stay in a Riad (I recommend Riad 58 Blu!)
- Explore the palaces and mosques
All in all would I recommend Marrakech? Yes, but I’d recommend other places first. If you are considering going, going in July like I did is cheaper but it’s a lot hotter than the high season. For us, every last penny for the week (including 3 nights in a 5 star hotel and our excursions) came to just under £650 each which I think flights and everything considered is really rather good.