Last month, our colleague Ann from SuperBreak’s Accounts Department jetted off for a short break to beautiful Marrakesh. What did she make of the bustling markets and ornate architecture? Find out here in her superb guest post…
My husband and I visited Marrakesh for a long weekend. We landed at Menara Airport where there are plenty of taxis available for the 20/30 minute transfer into town but make sure you agree a price before your journey begins.
After checking into the hotel we headed for the main square, Jemaa el Fna. The main entrance to Jemaa el Fna is marked by the Koutoubia Mosque a useful landmark which can be seen from many places within the city. The road from Koutoubia into the square is lined with the horse drawn carriages, Calaches, and these are an experience not to be missed however again, as with everything, haggle and fix a price.
During the day Jemaa el Fna is filled with stalls selling fresh orange juice and fruit and nuts. As evening approaches the square transforms into a buzzing meeting point for the whole city. Food stalls are erected in the square and serve a great variety of food cooked on smoking barbeques. There are snake charmers, belly dancers and many characters to behold. We saw a little old man sat on a mat surrounded by teeth, not sure how you decide which one will fit!
Radiating from the Jemaa el Fna are the various souks offering everything under the sun. And boy was the sun shining! The temperature over the entire weekend was in the early 30’s yet despite this the background to the city was the amazing snow capped Atlas Mountains.
On our second day we took a trip into the Ourika Valley. This was a lovely day and a nice respite from the heat and hustle of the city. At the end of the road, literally, was a 30 minute walk to a waterfall. Lunch was eaten in a restaurant at the side of the river before a visit to a Berber home on the return journey.
The third morning our first stop was the Majorelle Gardens. A fabulous garden created in the 1920/30’s by the French artist Jacques Majorelle and subsequently owned by Yves Saint Laurent. Once again this was a peaceful, quiet haven and not to be missed. From here we ventured into the Northern Medina and visited the Ben Youseff Medersa a Koran School with beautiful carved wood and tiling. We then paid a visit to the Tanneries district which was very smelly however we were provided with Berber air freshener, a bunch of mint, to disguise the smell!
Our final day began at the old main gate into the city, Bab Agnaou. From here we visited the Saadian Tombs, again some beautiful tiles and carving. We then took mint tea in a rooftop café to see the storks nesting on the ruins of the El Badi Palace before a visit to the impressive ruins. On the way back to Jemaa el Fna we visited a local patisserie to sample some of the cakes – very nice!
Be prepared for the constant attention of the locals as they try to sell their wares. Never pay the first price quoted, expect to pay a third to half the initial sum. If you ask directions they will take you to your destination however they will expect some form to recompense, and they probably will not be happy with what you give them however our guide book said just to smile and walk away and this seemed to work. If you take photographs they will expect to be paid, especially the evening performers in Jemaa el Fna. Not a destination for the faint hearted but I would not have missed it for the world!
Are you planning a short break abroad? Where are you off to? Let us know in the comments section below!