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Marrakesh – a long weekend getaway

Marrakesh, Morocco

Why Marrakesh? 

My boyfriend and I were looking for a cheap place to travel to, where we could meet up. He needed to travel from the UK, while I had to leave from Belgium. After a lot of searching and scanning the low budget airlines, we discovered that Marrakesh is cheap to fly to! An exotic trip, just a few hours away from Belgium. After realising that there is a two hour time difference, the short get away seemed even more exotic! Although I only realized this upon arrival.

Off to a bad start…

We started the trip full of excitement and with high expectations. The Riad was booked and the research of best spots of where to eat was done. I was glad that I did some planning and disappointed I didn’t do more. Marrakesh is an interesting place but with a lot scams going on, I was prepared for their calling and the different ways the vendors used to get your attention. I didn’t think they would trick you into getting lost in the Medina and charge you a ridiculously amount of money! So please be warned; you are never lost in the medina, it never ends (it’s a big place) and it isn’t unsafe. They will say lots of things, just so that they can show you the “right” way and ask you about € 10 to € 20 euros for it ! We should have been more assertive about it, but it is another country and I am the visitor. Our lesson was learnt and we avoided the 3rd scam. So don’t worry, you live and learn. Although this started our trip with a bad taste in our mouth..

It gets better!

A little research will bring you far!
Because I’m kind of a foodie, I researched places to eat in Marrakesh and I was happy I did! We would otherwise never have found these hidden gems (although they are quite popular with tourists). For dinner we went toLe Jardin, loaded the route on our maps and got to just another random door, but behind that door was a beautiful cosy place! I very much enjoyed eating out here. We went in the evening and it had a nice cosy Moroccan atmosphere with lanterns and candles. The food was nice and the service was excellent! Another place well worth visiting is Zwin Zwin, which actually means pretty pretty. This place looks very odd from the outside, as most places do in Marrakesh, but is another hidden gem! When going in the evening, you can enjoy the stunning view of the sunset in Marrakesh. During the day we tried some of the food stands in the streets, definitely worth a try. Btw the Moroccan cookies are heaven for the sweet tooths!

Don’t miss out!

When in Marrakesh, a must see is Le jardin majorelle or YSL’s gardens. It’s the most beautiful garden I have ever seen! It’s relaxing, peaceful and makes you forget about the hussle and bussle in the Medina. This doesn’t mean you should avoid the Medina. Go to the big square at night and walk around, see all that is going on there (and yes it’s a lot!). Have some food at the big square, there are lots of stands and everyone wants you to come to their stand. Just pick one, they are really all the same. Just pay attention to what you order. They will place more and more dishes, so that you pay them all in the end. Tell them to take back what you didn’t order to avoid additional charges!

What to do?

Cooking classes 

On our trips, my boyfriend and I always try to take some local cooking classes. On this trip we went to Riad Monceau and learned how to make a Chicken & Lamb Tajine as well as a delicious appetizer in 3 different flavors.  It was the best food I had in Marrakesh and I’m not just saying that because I made it myself. We were the only ones in the cooking class, which was sometimes a bit odd but still we had a fabulous time! The class was 45€ per person, the bonus is that you get a dessert in the end with your meal!

Spa – Hamman

I booked a Spa treatment for myself at Riad Monceau after our cooking classes. It was a very clean and professional Riad and I felt comfortable there. The place  wasn’t very busy, this could be because of the Ramadan or because they had some renovations going on. I took the scrub/peeling treatment for around €30. It was just me and a young Moroccan lady in a hammam. While you sit there with just the bottoms of your bikini on, she scrubs and washes your entire body. Yes is was a bit awkward and no, I didn’t feel reborn or anything afterwards. I guess I should have booked the massage too after all, in order to have a better and complete treatment. I’m sure it will also be more enjoyable when you are not just on your own. In my case, my boyfriend had an earlier flight back home.

Where to sleep?

When going to Marrakesh, you need to experience a stay at a Riad. It has a lot more charisma than a hotel and you can find them in every price range. We’ve stayed at one of the cheaper Riad’s, which was perfect for us; in the medina, clean, spacious & great location. If you are looking to hang out more at your Riad, I’d suggest to pay a bit more and get more luxury.  We stayed at  Riad Diana, 159€ for 5 nights! If it’s a bigger and busy Riad, try to get a room on the second floor, since they’ll be serving breakfast on the first floor and you don’t want to hear everyone going out and about.

One of the more luxury Riads is for example Riad Yasmine. They have rooms starting from 80€ and suits as of 95€ per night.

Excursions

From Marrakesh, there are a couple of day trips you can do and even trips that last a couple of days. We had decided to book our trip while in Marrakesh. That was a bad decision, since we planned it too late and didn’t have time to go on one of the longer trips. I would have loved to go on a Sahara trip and camp in the desert! Instead we did a weird trip with a personal driver that brings you to random places, or shops… We did do a hike to the waterfalls, but they weren’t the waterfalls we expected. So learn from my mistakes and plan this in advance. Do some research online, check tripadvisor and booking ahead.

How to get there?

You can find cheap flights on Ryanair from Charleroi, my flight was only €64 return (from Charleroi airport)! And once you get there, take a taxi at the taxi rank. Don’t pay more than 70Dhr for your ride into the city. Look up where you are staying, so you have an idea of where to go. Otherwise people will try to bring you to your hotel and charge you for it.

Tips
– Don’t forget to bring your international passport (and get another stamp!)
– Your passport has to be valid for more than 6 months
– 2h time difference
– Book your accommodation in advance (it would be a real hastle trying to find a place to sleep)
– Load your maps when leaving your Riad (so you don’t get lost / ripped off in the medina) or download offline maps on the google maps app. You can do this at home before you leave and even mark and save some of the locations you want to visit.

 

 Info – list of addresses

Food

Places to stay


Hamman

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