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!
Ahhhhh….. still thinking about my lovely time at Hammam Palma yesterday. A massage was definitely in order and it was a darn good one! Even got my face and scalp massaged. Have you ever been to a hammam, or Turkish bath? My first experience with one was a few years ago in Marrakech where I did the whole experience – steam, warm water sloshed over me with a bucket and then the fun begins; you are lathered up with black soap and then the attendant dons a loofah glove and vigorously exfoliates you from head to toe. Your body won’t know what hit it. And then off to a massage with oils. Heaven.
Yesterday was my first time at Hammam Palma. I had been searching for places for Felix and me to get massages. And it is seriously insane out there – either the place has closed for the winter season, closed on the weekends (what?!) or booked for months in advance. It was truly frustrating. Imagine my total glee when my email that was sent the night before was answered when I checked emails in the morning. And their answer was YES! All I had to answer was how long massage we wanted, our names and a phone number and we were booked. No calling and waiting, no giving a credit card. Thank you!
We arrived at 15:00 and were given towels and swim footwear to be worn inside the hammam. They want you to relax and experience the thermal bath and sauna for about an hour before your massage. They offer 15, 30 and 60 minute massages. They also offer the whole experience – black soap, exfoliation and massage if you wanted to be completely pampered. But just remember with the thermal spa you need to add an hour to whatever experience you choose. We scheduled an hour massage and were there two and a half hours.
It was so needed to take away stress and have a place that makes it easy and comfortable to do. I will be back very soon! Maybe I will do the complete experience next time. Stay tuned!
Hammam Palma ~ Calle Costa i Llobera 20, Palma de Mallorca 971.412.860
For some reason time has really, REALLY gotten away from me. I went to Marrakech, Morocco last year and I have been wanting to write about my experiences but … time. You know. So, here we are! Let’s talk about Marrakech/Marrakesh. However you are wanting to write it or pronounce it for that matter. My next few posts will be dedicated to my travels there.
I would like my first post to be about the fantastic and gorgeous riad that Perla 🙂 and I stayed at during our trip. A riad is a traditional Moroccan house or palace with an interior garden or courtyard. The word riad comes from the Arabian term for garden, “ryad”. The ancient Roman city of Volubilis provides a reference for the beginnings of riad architecture during the rule of the Idrisid Dynasty.
Our riad was Riad Dar Darma and it was so lovely. From the staff, to our room, the hospitality, the exquisiteness of the place – it became our home away from home. This was my first time in Morocco and I chose Marrakech because I had heard so many wonderful things about it. While I enjoyed it, it could often be a bit overwhelming in many situations. These I will speak to in my next blog. But Dar Darma was always a place we could come back to and relax. There were no worries here, everything was beautiful and calm. If we had questions, they would help us with the answer. If we wanted a book a reservation, they did it – and beyond!
We stayed in the Black Patio suite. It was three rooms – a sitting area with two chaise lounge chairs, a large mirror and a TV (which I don’t think we turned on even once), a bedroom was two poster beds that could be separated, a large armoire and two nightstands and a bathroom with a large marble tub and two sinks. This room overlooked a shady patio. For me, it was perfect. Here are a few pics from the room.
I’m not sure my pictures do it justice but the room was just what I was wanting. And the staff was over-the-top helpful. Pretty much, whatever you want or need help with, they will do it. Perls and I weren’t too demanding, pretty much a bottle of wine and that was it. And you know at most hotels you have set breakfast hours, which I understand but how nice was it to hear “When you get up, come upstairs to the terrace for breakfast.” And I said, what if we get up at 11? Then come upstairs then. And at 12, I asked. Then come upstairs then! I could have kissed them. I get to sleep until I want and still get my breakfast! And breakfast was delicious. Fresh fruit, fresh orange juice, a hot pot of coffee and fresh breads, crepes with jam and butter. Heaven!
We never had dinner at the riad but next time I will make sure I do. Their meals are all made using fresh ingredients and traditional Moroccan and international recipes.The classic dishes include: harira soup, meat or vegetable tajines, couscous, lemon chicken, freshly baked cakes, and fruit desserts.
They also have cooking classes with their cook Maria who can let you into the secrets of Moroccan recipes.
The terraces are so relaxing with lots of pillows and breathtaking views of the Koutoubia Mosque and the Atlas Mountains. They also have a hammam for you to use at your leisure.
The Dar Darma was a place that I truly needed for this first time experience in Marrakech. With a new and different and sometimes frustrating world that was the streets of Marrakech, Dar Darma was a comforting place to come back to. I so appreciated the happy faces and the courtesy and helpfulness I received there. I will definitely be back one day. Thank you Dar Darma! MWUAH.