Morocco was exciting, fascinating, not very frightening but I felt that sometimes I should keep my senses about me in this culturally stimulating and lovely country. This was my first time to experience the people, the food, the environment.
Marrakech, Morocco – Landed around 9ish p.m. and after going through customs and exchanging my euros for dirhams (at the moment it’s 1 EUR = 10.7 MD), we waited around for our hotel ride from the airport. Unfortunately, that never happened. So we negotiated with the taxi drivers. Well, not really, we told the main taxi dude where we needed to go and there seemed to be an intense discussion amongst the other taxi drivers when it was finally settled for around 20 euros, we hopped in.
This is actually one of my favorite times – when you see a city for the first time. All is fresh, all is new and crisp. I remember what seemed to be a barrier with tall walls surrounding the city, older looking taxis, people out walking.
The taxi drove down narrower and narrower streets all while speaking on his phone in Arabic from the airport to now but switching several times between one person and the next. He parked at the end of a street that was still not our hotel. There were several random small shops selling anything from saris to chicken on a stick to brand new Nikes. A young boy opened our car doors and grabbed our suitcases while motioning for us to follow him. Well, he had our suitcases and I still had zero idea where our hotel was so … we followed. After a five minute walk we finally arrived. And then began what we would experience the entire time – people wanting to be paid for this service that we never really wanted or negotiated for. But nonetheless, we had needed him to find our hotel. We forked over probably about 10 euros (!) when the door opened to the Riad Dar Darma and were whisked away into paradise.
The Riad Dar Darma was a lifesaver for me. Check out my blog post about it HERE. The streets of Marrakech are so confusing with twists and turns it is easy to get turned around, which we did many times. The first day was a spa appointment at the Hammam de la Rose for a traditional Hammam. You must go!! As aforementioned about the streets we got so lost we ended up 2 hours late. I know, shame on us. But seriously, COMPLETELY LOST. This time we actually met a nice person who put us in the right direction and we finally found it. Perla had to plead to them to let us have a new appointment. Thankfully they did, an hour and a half later. So, like all good Americans we headed for the bar to wait. Although Morocco is an Islamic country, there is a laid-back attitude towards alcohol, with bars in most tourist areas staying open late. You just have to search for them.
We found one very close to the spa, making sure to not get lost again! And it became our favorite place to grab a drink during our days there. The Souk Kafe was a lovely spot with a terrace overlooking the rooftops of Marrakech. Pretty good food, decent prices and they had wine!
The next day was a lovely trip to the Jardin Majorelle. We viewed many gorgeous plants, trees, flowers, fountains – it was a breath of fresh air to get into some nature. Afterwards, we had lunch at the restaurant there with a delicious mint tea.
I had the egg tajine (a popular Moroccan stew-like meal named after the type of pot it is cooked in). So good. Plus a cute cat hanging out with us. We took a horse ride back to our hotel – one, because we had walked to the gardens and our dogs were barkin’ and two, we wanted to see some new sights and not have to deal with people wanting money to show us back to our hotel.
All in all, it was an entertaining, interesting, and new experience for me. And I will return. But next time I will be better prepared with finding my way around and possibly hire a guide for a day to show me the markets and the best sights. Ooooh! And I want to go to the mountains! So much to do!