5 Ways To Relax In Marrakesh

When you’re planning a trip to Marrakesh, everyone has a tip or gentle warning that they’ve gained either from personal experience or a friend of a friend. They are all well intended. Beware of the vendors in the souks. Don’t walk around by yourself.  More than likely you’ll get lost. Always negotiate!

All of these tidbits are so very true. The souks can be absolutely maddening. I’ve been called Rhianna, Nicki Minaj, Lady Gaga, Chocolate, Sister Obama and my personal favorite, Africa, all in the name of trying to sell me a $2 scarf.

Wait. Aren’t we all African here?!

And if you aren’t careful enough, you can wind up in the direct path of a speeding moped making its way down the narrow alleyway.

Yes, you will most definitely will get lost wandering the medina, but that’s a part of the fun.

Negotiating is the way of life.  Always start with a third of the asking price, especially with the taxis!

I’m so thankful we walked into this experience with this information; it’s definitely given us a leg up. But what I wish someone would have shared with me was how to minimize our exposure to the craziness and actually have a relaxing day in this bustling city.  Because at some point, I can guarantee, some man will call you Chocolate and you’ll want to lose it right there in the middle of the street.  Rather than making a fool of yourself, it’s best to find a way to block it all out. And I’ve got just what you need to do that.

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1. Relax Inside your Riad. These dwellings were designed to provide privacy and keep the noise out.  Where we stayed, at Riad Soundouss, was the perfect place to lay back and enjoy the tranquility.  Pascale and her team went out of their way to ensure that our experience was restful. We probably could have stayed within those four walls for a while, but travelers guilt weighed heavy on me, so we moved on to other peaceful activities.

 

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2. Visit Les Jardins Majorelle. Depending on where you’re staying you’ll have to venture into a wee bit of craziness, but once there, it’s an ideal escape just outside of the medina.  It’s one of the most popular attractions in Marrakech, but doesn’t feel too crowded while there. You can stroll the manicured lanes of the gardens, enjoy the collection of cacti and plants, breathe in the fresh air and delight in the shade from the tall trees.

 

 

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3. Explore a Palace. While you  can’t step foot near the Royal Palace of the King of Morocco, you may explore the palaces of the past.  These beautiful displays of grandeur are really and truly a step back into time. You can wander the grounds imagining how the rulers may have lived.

 

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4. Take Refuge. Tucked away in a deserted alley is a gem of a place called Dar Cherifa.  You must ring the door in order to enter into the 16th century year old house.  Within the courtyard, you can lounge on sofas and eat a delicious meal, cozy up to a good book from their literary corner or appreciate the art of the featured exhibit.  You could literally hold up here for hours.

 

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5. Schedule a Hammam. A hammam is a wonderful treat that I think everyone should experience if traveling to Morocco. It involves an intensive scrubbing of the body. But trust me, it’s an incredible experience. You first start with a complete cleansing, followed by a head to to exfoliation.  After, you’ll rest in the lounging area to enjoy mint tea and sweets You will be amazed by how soft your skin feels.  I swear, you’ll never feel cleaner.

Coming To Africa

I have finally returned to the motherland!

Okay, Morocco is not the motherland that my ancestors hail from, according to the DNA test results, but I’m most definitely on African soil, so that has to count for something, right? We touched down in Marrakesh and I was completely blown away by both it’s beauty and chaos. From all of my reading up on the country, I believed I had a good idea of what to expect, but it’s greater than anything I imagined. There’s a constant give and take of that which is alluring and that which is complete confusion.  Take for example the road leading us away from the airport, it was packed with cars and mopeds taking matters into their own hands, but if you looked a bit harder you would see that very same road was lined with rose bushes that had the biggest and prettiest blooms that I’ve ever seen.  And that is Marrakesh at it’s core, a gorgeous display of disorder.

As we wove our way through the city and slipped into the medina, I was absolutely captivated.  I watched intently as the cars, mopeds and pedestrians moved around each other, each focused on there own direction, forgetting about the rules in place to protect them. Cars would rear up on school-aged children as scooters would dart out in front of cars without so much as a look.  And poor little me, I couldn’t help but hold my breath and prepare for the impending collision. What we would deem a certified cluster, magically works here. There were no collisions. No sweet old ladies being taken out by two wheels or four for that matter. Here, everyone makes it out alive.

Inside the medina, we are met by the riad manager, Paschale. She’s a wonderful French woman who I can tell is a person who lives to see the world. I absolutely adore her spirit. She leads us down the alley, pointing out the street art that will serve as our reminder that we are at our temporary home. Et voila, Riad Soundouss! She opened the door to our private sanctuary. Shut out from the outside, the riad was a peaceful escape. Inside, the air was perfumed with roses, you could hear birds chirping and the soft sound of a bubbling fountain. The hustle from the medina was no longer there, just two tall orange trees, cedar carved wood, intricate tile work and hand painted ceilings. It was my taste of heaven on earth. And in those first few moments, as David and I sipped mint tea on the terrace, I had a feeling that Marrakesh would be one of those cities that I fall deeply in love with.

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