Morocco

Hey dudes!

So, I went to Marrakech, Morrocco back in November and I’m gonna tell you alllll about it.

Sunset over Koutoubia Mosque, Marrakech.

Firstly, I just kinda said yes to going without actually thinking about it – my motto for 2016 appeared to be “F&^k it, why not?” and, I have to say it’s worked out pretty well. Shilly (a girl I met during my first week in Asia) booked it and I just tagged along. Maaaan, am I glad I did.

I had to get down to London from Newcastle, so I reluctantly hopped on a Megabus and 1am to arrive in Victoria for 7:30am. Another hour bus journey to Luton Airport and I was finally reunited with Shilly, exactly 9 months from the day we first met. More travel, consisting of a four hour flight and we arrived in a very dull, very drizzly Marrakech. Wait, I thought I was in Africa? I thought there would be glorious sunshine even in November; oh how wrong I was.

Reunited at last.

Anyway, we came straight out of the airport after over an hour and a half of customs, for a random guy to offer us a lift in his “taxi”. Nah, looked a bit too suspicious to us, so we hopped on a bus and met our first new travel buddies Marissa and Cath who we ended up experiencing the best of Marrakech with.

If you haven’t been to Marrakech before, let me tell you, it is damn hard to navigate. Our hostel was hidden in the Souks and trying to find your way through them is near impossible, luckily our hostel hosts came to help us navigate the winding streets. We settled in and spent the evening in Jemaa el Fna square, being hounded by many people to buy pashminas and to have a henna tattoo. We politely declined their offer.

We were awoken on our first full day, by the call to prayer (something that gave us fond memories of our time in Thailand) and then spent the day exploring the city.  Marrakech has a beautiful mix of Arabic and French culture, with incredible architecture and great food. We visited the Koutobia Mosque and the Sadien tombs whilst walking around in the rare day of sunshine we experienced out there. Our night was spent with a bunch a guys and gals from the American Peace Corps, listening to their time in Morocco and learning simple Arabic phrases like “La Shukran” (No Thank You) and general Moroccan customs. The PCV’s were an incredible bunch; so open to culture and immersing themselves in it, whilst helping educate Moroccans is rural villages and staying there for two whole years. Good effort guys.

Following the advice of our new America friends, we decided to go for a Hammam. For those of you who don’t know, a Hammam is a traditional Moroccan bath in which one strips naked, wears a paper thong and is exfoliated, massaged and cleansed almost everywhere on your body. I have to say it was an interesting experience. It cost me 20 quid and Shilly, Marissa and Cath also partook in the traditional Hammam. At times, it was a bit strange – being too tall for the massage table made it kind of uncomfortable, but my skin ended up silky smooth, so I can’t complain!
We spent the rest of the day exploring the beautiful architecture and vibrancy of Bahia Palace – it’s so pretty.

Bahia Palace Courtyard

The next few days were spent exploring! We headed to Ourika Valley and the Atlas Mountains (about an hours drive outside of Marrakech) and climbed up the seven waterfalls to see stunning views.

Ourika Valley

On the way back, we headed to a Berber village to see their way of life. Following our exploration of the valley, it was time to go to a desert. Merzouga desert. It was a slightly longer journey than I would’ve liked – 8 hours in total on a bus with complete strangers, who naturally became good friends for the 72 hours we all spent together. We arrived at to see camels and then stay for a night under the stars in tents with our hosts after a traditional Moroccan meal of Tagine. We sat around a camp fire, although it was freezing so I was happy to curl up in bed and get cosy! The desert is SOOOO cold at night, but worth it to wake up to the sunrise.

 

 

Berber Village

 

 

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Desert sunrise

Before we knew it, our night was over and we were enroute back to Marrakech, but not before stopping at the cinema museum and another village where GAME OF THRONES was filmed, well part of it anyway. Many more pictures were taken, however Shilly left her camera on the bus, never to be seen again, so the images will have to remain memories in my mind.

Our last day was spent visiting the beautiful Yves Saint Laurent Gardens before getting a few souvenirs and spending the last of our Dirham. We spent most of it on food;  we ate a lot of Tagine in Morocco, Cafe Rouge was our favourtie – it had phenomenal dishes at amazing prices – 40 DHM (£4) for a huge three course meal?! Yes please.

 

 

 

 

 

Then, no sooner were we back and rested, I was handed a bacon butty from Shilly and hopped on a Megabus, where my phone and ipod had died, I’d finished reading my book and there was no one to play i-spy with. Get me back to Newcastle ASAP. Another 8 hour bus journey is just too much for me!

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