For anyone who’s not been to Marrakech, you need to know that everything you’ve probably ever heard is true. It is hot (even in early Janaury when we were there). It’s dusty and dirty. It’s a city of vibrant colours, aromatic aromas, constant hustle and bustle. There’s incredible wealth and the most appalling poverty. In the souks, you’ll find the most adept and skilled sales people. It’s a safe city, as long as you have your wits about you, especially in Jemaa el Fnaa, the main square & market place. The other thing that is true, is that it is a city full of the most polite people we’ve ever encountered – everyone smiles, everyone greets you like an old friend and everyone seems genuinely sad when you leave their stall, restaurant or riad.
We arrived on 2nd January and it was hot & humid, although the temperature drops considerably at night. The airport is a sight to behold – and just a tiny glimpse of what is to become in this very exotic city. We took a taxi from the airport to Marrakech – not a long journey, and inexpensive – well worth doing as public transport needs to be fathomed! The rules of the road just seem to be that there are no rules 😉 Apart from if you’re a donkey, and you have right of way. All the time.
Riad Mouna, where we were staying for two nights before heading west to Essaouira, is right in the heart of the medina, which is closed to most* traffic, so we were dropped off outside the walls and taken on foot to the riad. This could be quite an alarming experience, especially at close to midnight, but take a deep breath & go with it. It’s worth it! I’ve never had such an introduction to a city before – but dragging your cases through the medina streets doesn’t half prepare you for what’s ahead!
(*except scooters, donkeys, vans loaded with a million things destined for the souks strapped to the top/sides/next to the driver. So, not closed to traffic at all. Just to let you know…)
Riad Mouna is right at the end of an alleyway (off the street leading to the main square) – once off the main drag, and the noise, it’s surprisingly quiet. Apart from the children playing football – which is what every child in Morocco seems to do 😉 The entrance to the riad is through a very small doorway – remember to stoop, and then this…
Although compared to some riads it’s quite basic (!), it is beautiful – full of Moroccan artefacts and intricate mosaics. There’s also a lovely roof terrace where breakfast is served – very traditional with pancakes and juices and wonderful coffee, with a view over the rooftops of Marrakech and away to the Atlas Mountains.
We spent two days exploring Marrakech – and to be honest, as amazing as it is, I don’t know that I could have done any more. Obviously, in the medina restaurants, alcohol is a no-no – we did hear about the “coca-cola rouge” but that was after we’d left – so advice would be to stay in riad or a hotel where you can get alcohol (and in most you can – but sadly not Riad Mouna, as we discovered), if you think a dry holiday is out of the question. However, it wasn’t due to lack of alcohol that meant two days was enough – it’s the fact that it is an assault on your senses and we just needed to get to Essaouira and soak up the laid back, hippy vibes 😉
So, here it is, in all it’s noisy, colourful, dramatic, hot glory. Marrakech…
Riad Mouna – 6, Derb el Bir. Quartier Riad Zitoune Lakdim. Médina – Marrakesh – MOROCCO