48 Hours in Marrakech
“Little and lasting is better than much and passing.”
I vividly remember arriving in Marrakech after a long road trip across the Sahara Desert and through Chefchaouen (the Blue City). I was exhausted, yet thrilled, to explore Marrakech and of course, its food.
Go Sahara Tours
All my travel arrangements were made in advance and luckily, I did not have to pay anything because this was a sponsored trip. The same travel company, Go Sahara Tours, who worked with me to organize my trip to Chefchaouen and to the Sahara Desert, was the same company who provided everything I needed to have a blast in Marrakech.
During the end of my study abroad with Semester at Sea, Marrakech played a great role in shaping my experience because it was the last city I visited before heading back to Angola (after two years without seeing my family and friends) and spending my summer there.
How to Get There
From Casablanca, there are three options to get to Marrakech. Renting a car and being crazy enough to do a road trip; buying a ticket to fly; or taking the train to Marrakech. To get there, I decided to do a mini road trip, my tour guide drove and the scenery was spectacular. Flying is pretty cheap, even cheaper than renting a car.
I chose not to fly because I wanted to see more of the country. Leaving Marrakech, I decided to be a bit more adventurous and take the public train with the locals. It was a wonderful experience, full of meaningful conversations with strange people, yet people with whom I could find a strong connection.
Riad La Croix Berbere
It took about 5 hours driving to get to Marrakech; we arrived there right before dinner time. I stayed at the Riad La Croix Berbere, a stunning 3 stars Riad located within 2 minutes walking distance to Jamaa El-Fna Square. The rooms were very clean and with amazing Moroccan architecture. I had champagne as a welcome drink and of course, great tea. The breakfast was one-of-a-kind and I could not resist befriending the entire hotel staff.
Jamaa El-Fna Square
The same day I arrived, I decided to explore the city during the night. My first stop was the famous Jamaa El-Fna Square. This square, during the night, is a huge food market, filled with many different kinds of Moroccan food, delicious natural juices, and fresh fruits.
I must confess, it was extremely packed while I was there, but at the same time, it was exciting and a beautiful introduction to how Marrakech would treat me. The people were very welcoming at all times. The hard thing was just stopping myself from eating so much (I really wanted to eat everything). That said, the street food was extremely tasty.
Since I was by myself, I got to meet some locals who spoke English and were wondering around the square, too. There were a good number of foreigners, but mostly locals. By the Jamaa El-Fna Square, I found some souks that were still open, and I bought some lamps and other goods. (Another thing you have to resist; you will want to buy everything because the products are extremely cheap with a very good quality.)
Argan Oil and Perfumes
In Marrakech, I got to make my own argan oil and perfumes. There are many local houses where people go to make their own oils and mix scents to make their own perfumes. On the first night I was visiting the Jamaa El-Fna Square, on my way back to my Riad, in one of the corner streets of Marrakech, I encountered this man and he was on the phone speaking Portuguese. I intentionally stopped and waited for him to finish his call and started speaking with him in Portuguese. It is not every day that you find someone speaking your native language.
We spoke for a while, and since we were near his house, he took me there and introduced me to his family. He was the only one who could speak Portuguese; the rest of the family spoke English, Arabic, Berber, and French. Long story short, he is an argan oil maker and while I was there, he taught me how to make the argan oil.
It was an experience like no other and I ended up buying a lot of bottle of the oil because it is great for my skin and hair. During the day, I found a souk where I could mix scent and I made my own perfume. Another great experience I would advise everyone to try.
The Moroccan architecture is just breathtaking. The facades and the use of magnificent tiles make the Moroccan architecture one of the most beautiful I have ever seen. For this trip, I focused more on the design of doors and some windows.
I was stupefied by the insane array of different styles of doors, each one more beautiful than the other.
The Moroccan architecture holds great influences from Portuguese and Spanish architecture. Yet, Islamization is the greatest influence of this fantastic architecture. Most of the buildings are dated all the way back to 110 BCE.
Souks are Moroccan traditional marketplaces and Marrakech has a square full of them. The best way I found to immerse myself into the city was through exploring these souks. I met wonderful people and spent quite a lot of money because it is just almost impossible not to buy all the amazing goods they sell.
All the souks are very vibrant in color. The array of different goods sold in them are the essence of the souks. From spices to carpets, to handmade lamps, to leather jackets and shoes, to traditional scarfs, traditional food, fresh food, silver jewellery and many more goods, the souks are the heart of Marrakech and its economy.
There are many wonderful rooftop bars in Marrakech, but the Nomad stole my heart. The view is one of a kind. I could see the entire city, Jamaa El-Fna Square, and the iconic minaret tower of Koutoubia Mosque.
This modern Moroccan restaurant and rooftop bar is located on Rahba Kedima Spice Square in the heart of Medina. It is a four-story building in an old carpet store. The fantastic views are complemented with a vibrant and lively atmosphere and traditional local cuisine.
Alcohol is not allowed in many places in Morocco, and this beautiful rooftop bar is one of them. I was exhausted at the beginning but nothing that a great DJ and a good natural juice could not cure. It was a nice environment with very cool people from all different backgrounds.
The mesmerizing thing was the fact that I found this place without any intentions. I was just exploring the souks and then I encountered this splendid door and I decided to enter there was loud music and a few foreigners, so I went up and discovered this stunning rooftop bar with a great view of the city. I am a sunset lover, so I stayed there until the gorgeous sunset occurred. This a fascinating way of ending my day.
This Mosque is located a few meters from the center of Jamaa El-Fna. This iconic piece of history was built in 1199. This Mosque was constructed and used by people affiliated with Sunni Islam.
Around the Mosque, there is a beautiful garden and a great place for families and kids to enjoy their time.
I have a picture of the interior of one of the naves, this is a prayer hall of the mosque. I did not get in because I did not want to disrespect the religion, but I took this picture from the outside and I think that the architecture is just stunning.
The minaret tower is about 77 meters high and it was constructed of sandstone. This minaret includes a secondary tower, a dome, a spire of four orbs, and a flagpole.
This palace was built in the late 19th century and back in the days, it was believed to be the most beautiful palace in Morocco.
I would never have found this palace if it were not for the lovely staff of the Riad I was staying. When I went to Marrakech, I did not do any research, I just decided to go with the grace of God and explore as I felt. I literally spent 48 hours walking and exploring most of the city by myself until one of the staff members of the Riad offered to show me some of the monuments and he also taught me how to bargain in a Moroccan style.
This is what I keep emphasizing, my people, connect with the locals and let them show you their country, city, or street.
The Bahia Palace was one of the highlights of these 48 hours. The stunning interiors, the amazing architecture, the gorgeous gardens, and the incredible history, it was a true palace, just like a fairy tale.
I will not write much about this exquisite place, this one I will let the picture talk for itself.
Marrakech was an adventure that I would like to repeat and a city where I would like to spend more time. Perhaps, I would bring some family members and friends, and let them enjoy a great tea and end the day with a beautiful sunset overlooking this charming city.