This might not seem like much time to spend here – especially considering I spent a week in the relaxed, less well known village of Essaouira. However, my reasons for only wanting three days in Marrakech can be explained. You see, contrary to popular belief, there are not a bucket load of things to do here. Additionally, I’ve actually been to Marrakech once before with my ex partner, Kate. We had such an amazing time here those years ago that naturally I have no interest in repeating the same attractions and activities but this time with strangers as company.
It’s worth pointing out though that this previous super-positive experience was not in anyway specific to Marrakech, but of Morocco in general. The city itself played a tiny par whereas the actual memories came from camel riding in the desert, quad biking in the desert and a day excursion into the Atlas mountains eating with a indigenous Berber family. Probably the most amazing, memorable five day holiday I’ve ever had and one I recommend more than anything, that you come and do.
Unsurprisingly then, my first batch of images come from my accommodation, not the city. To climb the hostel ladder in Morroco, I’d started low at hippy, surfer places progressing to a room of solitude in Agadir, now, behold a ‘hostel-Riad’ – the very best of both worlds! I honestly found a cracker here, folks…
Stunning hey. Admittedly ‘Equity Point’ are a small chain of hostels with several in Europe so you’d expect them to get things right – and they have. The terrace is also huge with sun loungers everywhere, working Wifi from up-top and a spot to watch the sunset.
I shared a four bed dorm room with just one other and this cost me (with breakfast) for all that you have seen above, £11 GBP per night. Mind boggling. If you don’t mind larger rooms (6, and 8s for example), you could pay £8 GBP!
Getting to Marrakech from Agadir
My options were again to use one of the bus operators, CTM or Supratours. The journey was 3.5 hours long and cost 100 dirhams (£7 GBP). I’d heard this was a very popular route for both travellers and locals which explained why there were more than five departures per day including a ‘CoNfort plus’ costing 130 dirhams (£9 GBP). This option claimed to offer working Wifi, a bottle of water, free luggage free (remember I have 2 lots), more leg room and enerally an overall better travel experience. Considering that the standard offering would cost me 110 dirhams (with luggage), I’d be paying 20 dirhams more (£1.50) for the extra.
That folks, is what the youths describe as ‘no brainer’. I’m happy to report it was a thoroughly pleasant experience so travellers take note of that little chestnut.
At the Marrakech drop off, you’ll need a taxi at this point (of which there are plenty) to reach the Medina. Share up with some others and you’re unlikely to pay more than £2 GBP each for the ten minute drive.
Having previously visited the Jardin Majorelle with Kate those years ago, naturally I didn’t feel the need to go back and pay money for the same privilege. It’s a garden if you didn’t already know by its name. A garden that supposedly took French painter Jacques Majorelle 40 years of dedication to create and complete! I understand that from 1980, French clothing designer Yves Saint-Laurent took half ownership of it. Following his death in 2008, he requested his ashes be scattered in the garden and now there is something commemorative if I recall correctly.
I’d heard the medina walls stretch along a 4KM perimeter, which is really pretty big! Then just imagine the amount of traders, souks, variety and abundance of produce, along with stray animals and human beings all co-existing inside these walls with barely any free space available.
Deep within the medina and towering above the city’s skyline is the unmistakable Koutoubia Mosque – the largest in Marrakech.
Jemaa El Fna square
Very close by to the mosque is an area somewhat synonymous with Marrakech. Ask anyone you know about Marrakech and chances are that their prominent memory will be relating to the square, its souks and of course, the evening food markets. This is where it all goes mental, particularly (but confined) at evening time.
These pictures don’t reflect the madness even slightly but there will be plenty of images online that do.
There’s too many types of people and too many types of merchandise to list but this where you will need to be alert and not completely suckered into buying things and believe me, the Moroccan’s have many ways to entice you in. If you’re not interested whatsoever, simply don’t get caught up in any conversation and know that whoever wants to guide you to your door, will want a ‘gesture’ for his troubles.
Some will say you need to eat at a market stall for ‘the proper Moroccan dining experience’. That’s a load of nonsense, obviously, but if you’re up for trying something like that, then do. Be warned though, there’s a strong chance you’ll have the runs later on. From my experiences, thankfully they don’t last long and I’ve never suffered with stomach pain or anything like that. If that concerns you, be smart and pick a stall that seems to only attract the locals; something me and my Irish friend Paul did on our last night. This also meant that the food (soup) and drink (mint tea of course) were insanely cheap; not something that’s true for a lot of the market stalls really trying to target the locals.
But know that the medina isn’t all Marrakech has to offer. Guéliz (the Ville Nouvelle) is as its name suggests if you know any French, is the new town. Having walked several kilometres to the bus and train station during one of my days here, I’d at least made it outside of the all-encompassing medina but on foot, and on my own, I didn’t really stumble on anything of interest. If I was staying here longer, I’d make an extra effort to get to know the ‘new town’.
In fact, back home ‘Mrs P’ has been coming here for a couple of years now for a re-treat – some self-cleansing of the body, mind and soul. There’s an irony flying into a city known for its mayhem to then find rest and relaxation but with Marrakech being one of the biggest cities in Morocco, there’s going to be hundreds of spots outside of the all-consuming medina catering for many other types of interest.
So despite this not being a picture-plentiful blog post, don’t interpret this as Marrakech not being worth visiting. Just understand that to make the most of your Moroccan adventure, you absolutely must venture outside of the city and indulge in a variety of unforgettable tours and activities, some of which I mentioned at the start of this post. One day I long to return to Morocco for a third time but with a significant other to experience a two night stay under the stars in the Sahara desert.
Final word on Marrakech, I can completely see why you might find it a love-hate city. That said, and if you’ve not been before, visiting here really is a must. So much so, and give this accolade the acknowledgement it deserves, Marrakech was rated in 2015 by TRIP ADVISOR, the number 1 destination to visit.