Gateway to Culture
Marrakech is a gateway to culture. It was surreal to be in North Africa. After years of planning to go to Morocco, I’m finally here. Marrakesh’s heady sights and sounds will dazzle, frazzle and enchant. Yet to this day, I dream that I’m back in my riad listening to animals and prayers echoing into the distance.
Frustrated + Confused
Marrakesh is a city steeped in ancient artistry that continues to thrive, kept alive by the modern craftspeople of the souqs and the contemporary art and design scene of the Ville Nouvelle. It was incredible, yet frustrating at the same time. I stayed in the old medina, and finding your way can be so confusing and when you think you have it down it’s still confusing. Cars, scooters, donkeys, and bikes are all jammed packed on tiny dirt roads. You have to learn how to get around with dozens of dirt roads that lead to nowhere. But if you follow it enough it will take you to the vast square of Djemaa El Fna (Marrakech marketplace) founded in AD 1050 – where monkey performers, hustler gypsies, snake charmers, and storytellers make a majority of this eclectic scene. Make sure to never ask for directions and act confident when you walk down the streets.
Souqs + Marketplace
Walking down the souq marketplace was pretty intense. Cars, scooters, bikes, people, and animals are all coming at you all the while you are trying to not get hit and still trying to look like you have it all together. It can be mentally exhausting. Once you arrive at the marketplace prepare to haggle and always be firm when you say NO. Don’t be afraid to walk away from people if they are trying to sell you something. If you really want to buy something make sure to have your price in your head and be firm with how much you are willing to pay.
Charming Ancient City
Marrakech is not all that intense. It’s pretty magical and mystic. Little rustic alleyways take you to shabby run-down buildings and when you peek behind its door it’s a grand palace. Other narrow, ochre-dusted lanes lead to nowhere. You hear the call to prayer echoing from mosques as scents of cumin and grilled meat intermingle in the air. You’ll see souqs filled with a lamp on top of trinkets on top of even more lamps and trinkets. You can find hidden treasure everywhere. Other souqs are filled with poufs to leather bags to carpets. You will find almost anything in Marrakech. Of course, it is the capital marketplace of Morocco. When in Morocco, you got to shop-til-you-drop!
If you get the chance make sure to explore outside of the marketplace and go visit Ouzoud, about 3 hours east of Marrakech. On my second day in Morocco, I decided to do an Ouzoud waterfall hike. My friend and I met a great local tour guide who educated us on the history of Azalil and how the waterfall brought the community together. There were monkeys and trinket stores everywhere! The town is also known for their lamb tagine dish. The lamb tagine dish was delicious – we had a side of potatoes and chai tea to go with our meal.
Morocco is Magical
Morocco was such a great experience and I would highly recommend doing it with a group of your friends. If you feel adventurous enough, you can even do a solo trip. Make sure to understand the dynamic of this country and respect the Muslim culture. Throw away your map and go get lost in the helter-skelter for a while.