Looking for a warm weather destination in November, something on the low end of costs, Matt and I decide to go on a trip to Marrakech, Morocco. Marrakech has been on my top 5 list of places to visit. The food and art, getting lost in the Marrakech souks, exploring the dessert, there is so much to do in Marrakech.
The best thing about going to Marrakech in November is there are less tourists, prices of hotels are lower, and it is still warm; around 72 degrees fahrenheit.
Trip to Marrakech Morocco Day 1
Day 1 of our trip to Marrakech is filled with arriving to Morocco for the first time, navigating the Marrakech Medina to find our traditional Moroccan riad, and exploring the Marrakech souk with a traditional Moroccan food tour.
Arriving to Marrakech
Arriving into Marrakesh was quite easy, it was leaving that turned out to be a hassle, but more on that later. First, we had to find our airport transfer to our riad, who was easy to spot, unlike our Bali adventure. We were staying at a riad which is a multi level home that surrounds a courtyard, typically containing a fountain or pool at the center. A dar is similar to a riad, only smaller. Learn more of what to expect with top Marrakech travel tips.
Stepping out onto the African soil, this land is like nowhere I’ve ever been before. Red washed walls, desert, and green all mixed; A mix of Islam, Jewish, African, French, Marrakech was one giant melting pot. Driving through the medina is interesting, and cause for an adrenaline rush; driving in Morocco alone is crazy. Narrow roads, thousands of motorbikes, bicycles, donkeys, wagons, cars, buses, horses; the roads are insane. We finally get to a stop in the medina, the old gated city center, the driver hands are bags to this guy at the corner. Now we are walking through more of the medina’s back alleys, following the man with our bags. The look on Matt’s face is getting worse; wondering where the hell I booked our stay. I assured him it’s the right way and that it will be fine.
Finally, we arrive at small wooden door, and the look on Matt’s face was one on the verge of freaking out. A man opens the door, and as we walk in, the old city walls turn into a bright, open oasis; our room is even more amazing. Apparently this place had just opened a few days ago, and everything about it is great. Read more about our stay at Riad Luciano.
Our First Taste of Marrakech
Dropping our bags, we decided to walk around and get lunch. Reading good reviews, and being in the middle of the souk, I decided we should go to Nomad; it was perfect. People are not lying when they say it is easy to get lost in the souks of Morocco. Be aware of your phone and belongings, and please note people expect tips for information. As they say everything has a price. If you do not tip, accept that you may be lead the wrong way, or given wrong directions. Having Google Maps opened on my phone, some guy continued to follow us until we got to our destination. Obnoxious, but I guess you have due whatever to get food.
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Walking through the souk there are so many colors, smells, people, donkeys; there was seriously so much going on. From lamps and rugs, to leather and metal; you want it, you got it. The shop owners do not hassle you, rather they are friendly, and willing to negotiate. The only hasslers being the lonely drifters trying to sell henna, jewelry or artwork. Coming out of the souk, the alleyways open up to a large square filled with people, orange juice stands, food markets, snake charmers, fortune tellers, henna, monkeys, squirrels, musicians, acrobats. Naturally, I was getting a photo of the snake charmers. Like I said before, everything has a price, just don’t be a fool. While the snake charmers are nice, do not pay more then 100 moroccan dirhams for a photo. Even this is too much, as it is almost $10 USD.
It was time to meet up for our Marrakech food tour. The tour is a small group, of 8 people, with a guide and Marrakech food expert, knowledgable in food, history, and customs of the food. Our tour starts off with sheep’s head. Hard Pass…and I think I may be a vegetarian now. Next we were on to olives of all shapes, colors and seasonings. I definitely was not up for trying everything, especially sheep’s head, spleen, or the snails, but Matt was! Read our full review of our Marrakech food tour. After Matthew ate his way through the medina, it was time for bed.
Trip to Marrakech Morocco Day 2
Day 2 of our trip to Marrakech we arrange a tour of the souks with a top Marrakech guide, we buy a traditional Moroccan rug, and watch belly dancers.
Marrakech GPS: Guiding Us Through Souks, Palaces, and More
The next morning, I booked a behind the scenes tour of the souks, along with some historic places of Marrakech. Hundreds of blog pages and hours later, I stumbled upon Mustapha, better known as Marrakech GPS. This guy is legit; he has been giving tours of Marrakesh for over 25 years. Giving tours to Alec Baldwin and Maggie Gyllenhaal, and even a peasant like me; thank you Mustapha for my 6 degree separation from Jake! Warm and welcoming, Mustapha met us at our riad in the morning.
Stepping out, we were greeted by a donkey; classic. Mustapha shows us through the different markets, leather, metal, tile, spice, rugs; it was all such amazing craftsmanship. Leather is the oldest trade in Marrakesh, while the rugs are unique as they are hand made by the varying tribes of Morocco. Moving from through the souk, Marrakech GPS takes us to some of the most famous places, palaces and beautiful gardens. He knows every nook and cranny of Marrakech. As we finish the tour, Mustapha brings us spot for lunch; it reminded my of my grandmothers cooking. Both of our meals total to $7 USD. That is a bargain.
As the afternoon became evening, we started with some drinks at our riad. Most people eat late in Marrakech, around 9pm or 10pm, due to it being so hot during the day. Late to Matt and I is 7pm. I made dinner reservations at the famous Comptoir Darna for 8:30pm; a Moroccan cuisine with fire and belly dancers. Dinner and a show? Yes, please. Be aware that the show doesn’t start until 10:30 PM, so try to book a late reservation. #lessonlearned. The music was loud and energetic, the food was just OK.
Trip to Marrakech Morocco Day 3
Day 3 of the trip to Marrakech we decide to explore the Moroccan gardens of the Red city: from and ancient restored garden in the Marrakech Media to the famous designer YSL’s blue garden.
Secret Gardens Of Marrakech
Sleeping in, with no set plans, we decided to walk through some of the many beautiful gardens of Marrakech; visiting both Le Jardin Secret and Jardin Majorelle. Both gardens were delightful, Le Jardin Secret for it’s history and Jardin Majorelle for it’s crazy cool blue and Yves Saint Laurent.
What makes Le Jardin Secret charming is that it is a beautiful garden, hidden behind the walls of the souk in the medina of Marrakech. Archaeologists have unearthed an ancient network of water systems, that provided water to a garden that existed, in the same spot, 1000s of years ago.
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Jardin Majorelle is an unusual Moroccan courtyard garden, designed and owned by Yves Saint Laurent. There is a house situated on the grounds, painted in the most magnificent blue with mix of colors and plants. It is so inspiring walking through the grounds; I wanted to live in this blue house. Jardin Majorelle is now a memorial for YSL and the Berber culture. The Berber people were creative nomads, harnessing their skills in carpet and jewelry making. Walking through the museum, I was in awe of the tools and instruments, clothes; everything had a reason. Walking for a few hours, it is finally time for an adult beverage.
Always more difficult then it seems, we find a place with alcohol. We arrive at the Novotel Art Bar, the setting was nice, but the service was awful. Staying for two drinks, we boogied on out to get ready for dinner.
After eating so many tagines, steamed meat and vegetables with couscous, we opted for Italian; we definitely made a mistake. Le Maison Arabe, is known for the tagines get the tangines. Typical amateur move.
Trip to Marrakech Morocco Day 4
On the 4th day of our trip to Marrakech we want to visit some of the most famous kasbahs in Morocco and experience the Sahara Desert
Rock The Kasbah
The next morning started pretty early, we were out the door by 8 AM. Our guide from the day before, Marrakech GPS, set up an english speaking driver to take us through the High Atlas Mountains to the famous Kasbah Aït Benhaddou, and onto Quarzazate, Morocco. This is a day trip, but like a 10 hour day trip; not arriving back to our riad until 5pm. For more on our excursion, view my article on the High Atlas Mountains and Aït Benhaddou, Morocco.
Hanging out that night at our Riad, we enjoy a low-key dinner and drinks. It is so cozy and intimate in Riad Luciano, you just can’t help but feel calm in here. The food at our riad is amazing; I wish we had eaten here every night. Finishing the night, we drank a bottle of wine, while we packed and watched documentaries. Oh great, here comes philosophical Mel…
Trip to Marrakech Morocco Day 5
Matt and I spend our final day of our trip to Marrakech in one of Marrakech’s top luxury spas. A few hours at the La Mamounia spa and pool it was time leave Marrakech and head back to Amsterdam.
Luxury Relaxation In Marrakech
Sleeping in, I was not ready to leave this place. Eating one last breakfast at our riad, we took it all in. We have the afternoon to explore and relax, so we headed out to the souk for some last-minute tchotchkes; a teapot and lamp. Walking for about an hour, it was relaxation time. I wanted to enjoy the warmth before heading back to cold, rainy Amsterdam. Taking a taxi to La Mamounia Hotel & Spa, I had to see their famous pools. Reading the best reviews and seeing the most wonderful pictures of the indoor pool and spa at La Mamounia, you know I was making Matt take advantage of that.
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To experience the opulence and ornateness of the pools and spa at La Mamounia is unreal; you feel like a princess. There is a fee to access both the indoor and outdoor pools, about $50USD for a day pass. Starting with the outdoor pool, we were on a mission to catch some last minute rays. The outdoor pool is nice; it is a large infinity pool, surrounded by gardens, chairs and a pool house restaurant. On the verge of being hangry, we needed to get some food, so we figured the pool house restaurant. Wrong.
It was Sunday afternoon, so they were of course doing a special; all you can eat brunch with 1 glass of champagne for $120USD. I do not eat enough to justify spending that money, so we ordered food from our poolside chairs. Ordering a Caesar salad for about $28USD, and Matt orders a club sandwich for about $25US, and our beers are about $11 USD each. Expensive, yes, but remember VIPs stay here, so that’s like pennies to them. After eating, floating, sunbathing, we make our way to the indoor pool. The indoor pool is so beautiful and peaceful. After a few hours of relaxation, it is now time to taxi back to our riad and get our bags, and go to the airport.
Getting to the airport isn’t bad, as our riad arranged our airport transfer. It is about 20 to 30 minutes, with traffic, to get to the airport from the medina. Once inside the airport, it is a large open hall that could really benefit from better signage and line cues. Thinking that was bad, once you go through security (which was pretty standard) you enter into this medium sized room, which acts as a food hall. Like their markets, it’s a souk; crowded and chaotic. Thinking that was bad, trying to figure out which gate we had to leave from was a bigger issue. The airport changed our gate 3 different times in 20 minutes. By the time we get onto our plane it was delayed another hour due to weather. Typical at this point.
Finally we got the ok to take off. Heading to Amsterdam, I was exhausted but happy.
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