North Africa was a long time coming. After a few persuasive photos of camel rides and ATVs in the desert I booked a trip with two of my coworkers to visit Morocco for the first time. Let me start by saying thank you to both of them. This trip was the most incredible journey I have ever taken, and I couldn’t have asked for two better copilots to share this adventure with. Stephen and Chance if you are reading this, I’m glad we shared this experience together. I love you both dearly.
THE TRUTH ABOUT MOROCCO
I’d seen photos on Instagram, in magazines and through random google searches. My immediate impression was how beautiful the mosaic tiles were, how sacred experiencing the temples would be, and pure lust for the picturesque architecture. Prior to arriving I mapped out a 9 day schedule from Marrakesh to Casablanca, taking a detour through Fez then back down to Essaouira (lots of driving time). In my mind it would be the perfect vacation. At the time of booking the trip I didn’t realize how overwhelming 20 hours in a car over 9 days with two other people would be, and not to mention, rushed, so we extended our trip in Marrakesh. We spent the majority of our time at the Dunes & Desert, spice markets, souks, medina, and mosques, but nothing could have prepared me for what we were about to experience.
After a 4 hour flight from Amsterdam to Marrakesh I was so excited to arrive I couldn’t wait to pickup the rental car and check-in to the hotel. Most international airports offer 15 mins to unlimited complimentary wifi access but RAK did not. Since my data plan works on wifi (the only plan AT&T offered in North Africa at the time of this post) being without wifi was a huge inconvenience. Unfortunately, we were all in the same situation. Wifi wouldn’t have been a problem if we didn’t have trouble with the rental car company, but when we arrived to pickup the car (a standard, compact car with a manual transmission thats costs extra for AC) the company had a strict insurance policy. They required a $2600.00-$5000.00 deposit for the car. Since we couldn’t contact the third party we reserved the car through we decided not to rent a car. Being without a car wasn’t a problem getting around Marrakesh; buses and taxi’s to-and-from airport, hotels and surrounding cities are easy to access from almost anywhere near the Medina and public places. Pricing is negotiable. Turns out we were relieved we didn’t rent a car because the streets in Marrakesh are a free for all. There are relatively no traffic signals, and pedestrians do not have the right of way. Be sure to pay close attention before crossing traffic if you don’t want to get ran over by a scooter or taxi.
We visited Morocco in May during the beginning of the 120+ degree heat. I’m used to dry heat so I was prepared for the weather, but I still packed light weight clothing to layer. I noticed other women wearing crop tops, short shorts and open-toed shoes, but I did my best to respect the culture and cover my head in scarves and clothing head-to-toe. Morocco is more westernized now so it is not necessary to cover your entire body anymore. The Arabic and French natives I met while traveling were lovely. They shared their homes and offered as much insight into the country as I accepted. It was much different from what I anticipated. English is commonly spoken here. I asked questions trying to learn Arabic and did my best to speak to them. Without running water, electricity and of course wifi in so many parts of the country you quickly learn to appreciate what you have, which in our case was great new friends. Since we only had 9 days and no rental car we decided to forgo Casablanca and Fez to spend the majority of our time between Marrakesh and Essaouira. Marrakesh is large enough to spend an entire week so it was perfect for us and great for shopping and sightseeing. The souks are endless. Since I was traveling for a little over a month with limited room to spare in my suitcase I bought sparingly, but I did find a cute pair of pink leather flats and spices to bring home. Make sure to bargain because they love to barter. There is so much to share from my Moroccan journey that I’ve separated it between Marrakesh and Essaouira to share all of my pictures and the places I found to be the most memorable.
A few places I really enjoyed visiting while in Marrakesh
- Dunes & Desert Camel Rides and ATV’s
- Medina of Marrakesh
- Dar Menebhi Palace
- Spice Markets, Shops, Souks, Mosque
- Comptoir Marrakech: The best dinner in Morocco!
- Hotels to stay at or visit: Pearl Marrakech, Four Seasons, La Mamounia Hotel for lunch/drinks poolside.