TALES FROM MOROCCO
Morrocco is such a perfect blend of history, food and culture. Our ambassador, Jen, visited Marrakesh and Essaouira last August. Quick look at some of her favourite spots and activities.
Marrakesh is a fast-paced city in Western Morocco known for its old town, lively markets, and beautiful mosques, palaces and gardens. Here are a few musts.
STAY IN A RIADRiads are guesthouses, typically old, upper-class family homes, that have been converted into hotels. We stayed at the Riad Itrane, a beautiful little guesthouse with 12 rooms overlooking a courtyard, located in the souks (markets). Breakfast was included with the room. There was also a welcoming pool that was particularly appreciated after a day walking around town. A beautiful spot with super helpful hosts!
VISIT JARDIN DE MAJORELLE
One of the highlights of our trip was visiting the Jardin de Majorelle, a beautiful and peaceful art deco garden with lots of exotic plants. The shade was very much appreciated and it was a nice break from the chaos of the city.
LEARN TO BARGAIN AT THE MARKET
The famous Jemaa El-Fna market is an adventure on its own. Anything can be found here. Spices, lamps, jewellery, dishes, tea pots, food, clothes and lots more. Be prepared to bargain. Some store owners are friendly and some are more aggressive. The price they give you is often double, if not more, than what you should end up paying. At night, there are also food vendors.
For lunch, try the Jamie Oliver recommended Mechoui Alley! Here, you'll find tender, perfectly seasoned slow-roasted lamb for an amazing price!
TRY A HAMMAM
If you are feeling brave, go to a local Hammam. You will be asked to strip down to your underwear while a local scrubs and washes you. The floor and water of the Hammam we visited was heated by the fires from the neighbourhood bakery. Quite a unique experience!
RELAX IN ESSAOUIRA
Bright and breezy Essaouira, on Morocco's Atlantic Coast, is an enchanting, laid-back alternative to the frenetic melting pot of Marrakesh and a great way to end your Moroccan adventure. It can be reached by bus from Marrakesh in about 3 hours (advanced reservations are highly recommended).
I fell in love with Essaouira's easygoing lifestyle. We enjoyed its beautiful beaches, watched dromedaries and kite surfers in the distance and fell asleep to the peaceful sound of waves. The sunsets were also beautiful.
We visited the market regularly for fresh produce and delicious pastries, made our own meals and ate on our private terrace overlooking the port. Essaouira’s Medina (old town), which is protected by seafront ramparts, was also quite a pretty sight.
The weather here is much cooler than in Marrakesh and everything is walking distance which was a nice break from bargaining with cab drivers. Such a peaceful and relaxing little village to spend three nights.
· Currency: The Moroccan dirham. Always have cash with you. Not too many places accept credit cards.
· Flight: 7-hour direct flight from Montreal with Air Canada Rouge
· Language: Arabic, Berber and French are commonly spoken.
· Season: Spring and autumn are generally the best times to visit Morocco as the weather is warm but pleasant. The coastal regions can be visited year round.
· New food discovery: The tagine. A stew or casserole dish which is named after the earth ware pot in which it is cooked. Simply delicious!
· In my suitcase: the KAP pants!