Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Salam Marrakech

As usual, I'm way behind in my trip recaps but Im finally sitting down to share our short trip to Marrakech, Morocco.

After a bit of flight hiccup, we arrived a day late and a bit exhuasted. We stayed in a Riad - a small traditional Moroccan palace outfitted for guests - that seemed perfect and charming at first look. Sadly I can't recommend it after suffering through a number of issues including multiple nights without hot water, being overcharged after the fact, etc. That said, I would definitely recommend staying at a riad to get the full experience- just a more reputable one.

Marrakech111229Marrakech111229-2
Marrakech111229-5Marrakech111231-17
Marrakech111230-27

Marrakech is incredibly beguiling with its winding streets and covered alleys that make the city almost maze like. You can't walk a few feet without meeting the city's unoffcial welcoming committee - an army of stray cats that mew you to submission. That was a-okay with me.

To say Marrakech is atmospheric would be an understatement.


Marrakech111231-4Marrakech111230-24Marrakech111230-21Marrakech111231
Marrakech111231-29Marrakech111231-16


On our first full day we took a tour outside the city to ride around on ATVs. It was fun - although I wished there was more 'touring' and less 'riding around aimlessly'.
Marrakech111230-5Marrakech111230-11
Marrakech111230-7

The rest of our trip we spent wandering around the city. I did have a guidebook but I have to say it wasn't that useful as finding exact locations is nearly impossible. In fact, having no clue of where were going only added to the fun of exploring this city. Its compact enough to make exploring by foot a breeze and there is no shortage of things to keep you interested every few feet.

Despite not having much luck in finding most of the restaurants that were recommended to us, we seemed to have great food nearly everywhere. It was simply a matter of following the crowd - if a lot of people were eating in one particular spot, we got in line and were rewarded.
Marrakech111229-4Marrakech111229-3
Marrakech111230Marrakech111231-20Marrakech111229-10

The best part of Marrakech for me was the shopping. Or I should say browsing and admiring - I certainly looked more than I purchased. There is so much to see! Unlike other locales when its sometimes hard to distinguish what is made locally versus what is imported for tourists, that isn't an issue here. Just walk the back alleys behind some of the shops and you'll see the items being made right in front of your eyes.

Marrakech111230-19
Marrakech111230-20Marrakech111231-2Marrakech111231-5Marrakech111231-19
Marrakech111230-25

This shop was my favorite. Those amazing tile floors made me want to move in! There was also a beautiful light fixture I had eyed over and over during the trip but ultimately decided not to buy because I was worried about damaging it on the way home. I don't know what I was thinking - it would have been perfect in my hallway. Drats!

Marrakech111231-6

Another favorite spot was the dyers market.
Marrakech111231-10 Marrakech111231-13
Marrakech111231-9Marrakech111231-14Marrakech111231-7

We celebrated New Years Eve there with some overpriced champagne and obligatory uncomfortableness around a belly dancer before saying good bye for now. I really enjoyed Marrakech and am still kicking myself for not bringing home that light fixture. Oh well, I guess I have a reason to go back now.

postscript: I got a few emails about safety here so I figured I'd answer here. I visited Marrakech in the company of my husband, brother and sister in law. We spent nearly all of our time together and while we were in a group, I was never concernced for my safety. When my sister in law and I were walking ahead alone, there were a few instances of local boys and young men shouting something unkind to us - it was mostly phrases I couldn't understand but included the most hilarious moment in the trip when a boy about 12 years old walked right into us and utters ' WOW! BIG BOOBS!". We never felt threatened or in danger, but that was a bit uncomfortable. The only time I felt any reason for concern was went I briefly walked alone to the drug store. It was down a street I had walked numerous times before on this trip without incident. For whatever reason, nearly everyone I walked by seemed to turn their gaze and bore into me the entire time. That felt somewhat menacing although I doubt I was in any danger. If the whole trip had been like that, I would have hated it. So long story short (too late!), I think its a great place to visit but I would probably NOT recommend a visit alone as a woman. At the very least, bring your girlfriends and you'll have stories to take home with you.

18 comments:

  1. My female friend and I went as clueless students - we got a lot of unwanted attention but never really felt unsafe (except when we put ourselves in some unsafe situations because we were young and stupid!). My friend travelled pretty much alone and just wore a headscarf all the time.
    I think a group of older (smarter!) girlfriends could have a great time - because we did have some amazing opportunities to see cool things that we got because we were women.
    I think I went to the same pharmacy as you! look! http://annabelvita.com/moroccan-summer

    ReplyDelete
  2. from_Bucyrus10:12 AM

    I love reading about your travels. I've only been outside the US once (honeymoon) to Jamaica...which I don't think counts as foreign travel. Your descriptions, photos and advice and a wonderful vicarious vacation over coffee at my desk, and no passport required! Glad you are both home safely.
    J

    ReplyDelete
  3. I spent most of my time in Rabat--I only glimpsed Marrakech for one afternoon& evening, but I already fell in love. Did you fly into Marrakech or fly into Casablanca and take a bus? I felt like the bus ride we took went on FOREVER! 

    ReplyDelete
  4. Janette@The2Seasons12:56 PM

    Jordan (my blog partner/daughter) and I spent three weeks in Morocco on our bicycles when we cycled from Paris to Dakar, Senegal. (In total it was a 10 week bicycling  trip).   We were treated poorly by the people in Morocco.  Men yelled at us, attacked Jordan on her bicycyle, threw rocks and bottles at us, and harrassed us.  I never need to go back to that country.  We were with a group of 25 Europeans, but we were the only American women and were basically on our own while cycling.  We spent a long week-end in Marrakesh and spent  a long week-end in Fez.  Both cities were colorful and exotic.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Love those photos! My husband and I went to Fez and into the Atlas Mountains last year and just loved it. Morocco was such a delight - so, so much to see and do. The shopping was pretty fabulous too (and I am also kicking myself for not bringing home a lantern). 

    ReplyDelete
  6. We flew into Marrakech from Madrid so no bus for me. That sounds like enough to keep me away forever :)

    ReplyDelete
  7. Anywhere that has cute stray cats who are willing to have their pictures taken is okay with me. Also, Morocco is somewhere that I've wanted to visit.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Kmomail200410:02 PM

    What kind of camera did you use for the photos.  My husband and I took LOADS of photos in Morocco and none are as lovely as yours.  Gorgeous.  My 2 favorites are the couple in Djemaa El Fna and the one next to it shot somewhere buried in the souk.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Glad you had a nice time in Marrakech, Stefanie! You know, I actually went to Morocco for over a week by myself, staying mostly in Casablanca and Marrakech. It's a beautiful country, not without its problems, but I definitely have some thoughts about traveling solo as a woman.  It's definitely not for the faint of heart, but I wouldn't necessarily recommend against it.

    At first, I definitely experienced overwhelming curiosity from men, especially in the more touristy souk areas -- fortunately, I speak French so was able to converse and understand that for the most part it truly was just curiosity since it's not something they see all too frequently. I got my fair share of marriage proposals, but experienced no aggression whatsoever... just jovial banter with men who see speaking to foreign women as an opportunity not typically presented.

    Also, while I was in Marrakech, I came down with a TERRIBLE flu. Fever, sore throat, chills, the whole nine yards. It's miserable enough to be sick, but when you're traveling alone and in a foreign country, it was downright scary. However, I have to say that EVERYONE I met while ill was so helpful and friendly and caring. I even had a hotel director walk me to the police outpost, and the policeman put me on the back of his motorcycle to drive me to the pharmacy to see a doctor. Later on, once I was feeling somewhat better, I took a trip to see some countryside and experienced the same hospitality with the native Berber / Amazigh people -- so friendly and warm and caring.

    Looking back, it was a hard 'vacation' but I am thankful to have experienced the wonderful hospitality and genuine care of the people in Morocco.  Of course, everyone's travel experiences are unique, but again I just wanted to throw my two cents in about traveling there alone as a woman! Don't want everyone to be scared off. :)

    ReplyDelete
  10. I would never discourage someone from visiting but I just wanted to be honest about my experiences. As you'll see from my other trip reports, Ive felt very safe just about everywhere Ive gone and always encourage people to travel as much as possible.


    In this case, it wasn't just curious looks I was getting. Just trying to be honest about how I felt here. Not that anyone shouldn't go because of it but being informed about what to expect is always a good thing.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I used a Nikon D90 but Id like to think that I had more to do with it than my camera model.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Megan@twodelighted11:50 AM

    I really love the style of your photography.  It is very distinct.  Very bright and colorful but always with a particularly viewpoint and mood.  Beautiful.

    ReplyDelete
  13. your photos make me want to visit those markets.  so colorful and exotic looking.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Janell9:20 PM

    The photo of the scooter against the orange wall is fantastic!! Janell

    ReplyDelete
  15. Couturecat6:54 PM

    I am amazed at how many people write that they have been to Morocco!  What an intriguing trip to take...  I'm in Las Vegas and I just love shiny rocks.  I would welcome it to join my 'others'...  Thank you for sharing your lovely photos.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Your travels are amazing.  I love your photos.  I am curious how you take pictures of people without getting into any trouble?  Do you get permission first of just take the picture really quick before anyone realizes?  Thanks for sharing your beautiful photos!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Beautiful photos and description of your trip! I'm planning on going in October with my husband.... just starting to plan or figure out where to start (Marrakech area). Thank you for sharing!

    ReplyDelete

I'd love to hear what you think. I ♥ comments.

If you are asking a question, please be sure to type in your email address so I can respond directly to you.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
 

© 2007-2014 Brooklyn Limestone. All Rights Reserved. | Blog Layout By Gallery No. Eight