(Oct 15-18, 2014)
Besides the weekend tour to Morocco, we took our own separate trip from Madrid to Marrakech, a northwestern city in Africa.
For our accommodations, we tried staying at a traditional Moroccan house called a riad. This particular riad (name is Monriad, found through airbnb) was located walking distance from Djemaa el-Fnaa square which I thought would be an advantage so we won’t have a hard time exploring the market. The riad was just as I imagined with the intricate designs in the walls and use of bright colors.. The breakfast was also included in the room rate.. It’s pretty simple fare, but it was filling enough to satisfy my hunger at the start of the day..What I loved the most from Morocco was their mint tea.. My friends didn’t enjoy it because it was too sweet, but I loved the taste of it and would ask for their share if they don’t want it anymore 😀
The downside of this experience though is since we went for a budget riad accommodations, the facility and service was not as good as what I would have liked. For one thing I intentionally searched for a riad with airconditioning because I knew the climate here was hot.. but during our stay here the aircon and bathroom ventilation were both not working… That resulted in a stinky bathroom and uncomfortable sleep with the lack of air in the room… It’s a shame because the staff was really accommodating and friendly..
As for Marrakech itself, we were a bit scared to venture out much since we were always worried about being scammed or harassed by people selling their goods. And since there was hardly any Asians travelling here, the locals would keep trying to get our attention by shouting any Asian phrase they know to see if we would react (It would alternate between Japanese, Chinese, Korean.. no one could ever guess we came from the Philippines)..
The one place we saw a lot of while in Marrakech was Djemaa el-Fnaa square..The market was like a labyrinth with alleys of shops one after another. After maybe an hour or two I was ready to head back as the strong smell of leather was making me dizzy..
The square itself is not much to look at during the day, but it’s buzzing with activity at night.
It was like a mini carnival with various stalls selling food and wares, parlor games, and snake charmers! The other thing I got to try was the Hammam, a traditional bath much like a spa which locals do as part of their cleansing ritual.
The basic service had a body scrub, steam bath, a warm shower, then after was given some perfumed oils.. I felt so refreshed and clean after!
As for food, the typical dishes you would see in the menu are couscous and tagine.. But the one I absolutely loved was this pastillas and briwats dish.. I loved the crunchy outside pastry, and the sweet and savoury combination of the meat and cinnamon spices..
Then before we left Marrakech, we went to the modern area of the city to Atika, which is known to expats for it’s Tod-like loafers at a significantly cheaper price.
Overall impression from this trip, it was shocking for someone like me who generally plays it safe and prefers a comfortable style of traveling.. But at the same time very fascinating because of how different it is from other places I’ve been to.. It felt like I stepped into this world from stories like Aladdin and Arabian nights..
For travellers with the same profile as me, it’s not the type of place I would recommend going to without joining a tour group.. But if you do go, you can be sure you’ll leave with lots of stories about your experience!