I recently returned from my first holiday to Marrakech, where I fell in love with the North African culture. The colourful vibes throughout this city will never be a distant memory and I definitely plan to go back.
Medina of Marrakech
Starting my adventure, I woke up, had my breakfast and headed for the streets where I was surrounded by the authentic Moroccan clothing, intricate babouches and dazzling jewellery.
Excite your senses and meander through a maze of cultural delights in the Medina of Marrakech. The Jemaa-el-fna at its centre is a dramatic display of local tradition.
This lively square is filled with magicians and street food, snake charmers and storytellers. Dancing with the locals to the sound of authentic Moroccan instruments like the oud – a short-neck lute-type, stringed instrument – was a great experience I won’t quickly forget. If you’d rather not join in with the dancing, they are happy to entertain but be ready to pay for the pleasure as the locals generally expect it.
Food in Marrakech
One of my main highlights of Marrakech was the food. You can’t find a more typically local cuisine than throughout the Medina. At night, local sellers will use their very best persuasion skills to get you to try the food and drink they have to offer. For those that don’t mind the banter, the sellers are very friendly and I found it added to my whole experience.
They’re always quick to offer a sample of what’s on sale and the aromatic spices and almost medicinal liquors will linger on the taste buds; you definitely won’t be short of trying new flavours.
Branching out from the main central square I found myself exploring different stalls in one of the many souks, a network of narrow streets showcasing a different trade around every corner. Cobblers and craftsman, butchers and bread makers, spices and silver; whatever you’re looking for you’ll find it here.
My kids are like most, and love a good game of dress up, so the beautiful beaded leather slippers made a great gift to take home and now come with magical stories of wizards and genies from faraway lands. All the trinkets are handmade and crafted in front of you using techniques that date back through the generations.
The best way to discover the hidden gems of the souks is with a guide; it’s very easy to get lost in the jungle of shops and stalls when you’re trying to decide between that beautiful olive bowl or silver teapot.
I’d definitely recommend taking a map and find yourself a marker that’s easy to recognise, so you can get back to where you started if you do decide to venture in unchaperoned. During the day, you’re not constantly hassled to buy but once you enter into haggling, it’s generally seen as a committed sale, and if you don’t close the deal it can be quite disrespectful. If you’re not looking to haggle and just want to take in the sights, sounds and smells of the city, then the souks still provide plenty of opportunities to experience the local culture and its traditions.
I loved being immersed in this vibrant city and having a beautiful hotel to retreat to at the end of the day. But, most of all, I loved that Marrakech completely overwhelmed my senses in the most positive way, and was an experience I’ll never forget.