Hi! I’m Emily Adams and I’d love for you to join me on my adventures over at my blog: The Planking Traveler
Marrakesh, Morocco – 6 Things To Know Before You Go
My parents took me overseas at age 1, so I guess you could say travel is in my blood – ever since then, I’ve not been happy unless I’ve been constantly exploring new places. My early years were spent growing up as a missionary kid in Asia, so when we ventured outside my comfort zone to North Africa for our honeymoon, I wasn’t sure what to expect! If you’re new to Morocco or Islamic countries in general, read on for my take on how you can best enjoy your time and fit into the culture!
After a rather chaotic time in the airport (there is no personal space and much pushing and shoving while waiting in line for Customs and luggage), we finally reached our pre-arranged taxi to begin our journey in Morocco.
Here are some of the highlights from our stay:
- The Riad – This is the traditional Moroccan house or palace with an interior garden or courtyard. We booked one on Airbnb for only $40 per night, and it was wonderful (Riad Dar Tayib is the name, if you’re curious). Our hosts made us breakfast each morning and also cooked dinner for us a few of the nights we were there (dinner was an extra fee, but worth it!). The courtyard was incredibly peaceful, with a fountain at the center and trees inside. We were also able to go relax on the terrace roof and see the Atlas mountains in the distance, which was neat! It’s a great place to escape the HOT days in Morocco!
- The Medina – This is the old city, and the most famous square is known as Jemaa el-Fnaa. This definitely felt like a scene out of an Indiana Jones movie. There were monkeys wearing clothes, snake charmers and many people haggling with all the vendors to get the best prices. This area is a must-see while you are there. The air is filled with the aroma of spices and possibilities and we really enjoyed just browsing for hours here. I picked up a traditional Moroccan tunic which I love! There are many winding corridors that will easily get you lost if you don’t make note of your landmarks. Street signs don’t really exist here and GPS certainly doesn’t. Watch out for motorbikes, because they are everywhere! Most of all, be sure to haggle with the vendors because they start off so high, but you can end up getting some great deals if you’re persistent.
- Food and Drink – You must experience the Tagine (or sometimes spelled Tajine)! We took part in a cooking class where we wandered the Medina for all our needed ingredients (including live chickens :-/ ) and then learned how to slow cook them in the earthenware pot known as the Tagine. Moroccan Tagine dishes are slow-cooked savory stews, typically cooked with chicken or beef, and many also incorporate preserved lemon. Common spices include ginger, cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, and saffron. We also learned how to make a Moroccan salad, which is now one of my weekly go-to recipes back home. In the new city, check out the restaurant Comptoir Darna – they have live belly-dancing and the ladies dance with flaming candelabras balanced on their head, so fun! The food was also delicious!
- The Call To Prayer – I had not been in a Muslim country before, so hearing this for the first time was a little eerie to me. We quickly got used to hearing the call to prayer from the mosque near our Riad several times a day, but just be prepared and don’t let it startle you.
- Clothing – Most of the local women do wear a hijab, so I asked our host when we arrived if I needed to avoid wearing shorts, tank tops, etc. He told us the locals generally didn’t care what foreigners wear, but I wanted to err on the side of being cautious and respectful of the culture, so I stuck with long skirts and was fully covered most of the times we went out, except into the new city which was much less traditional.
- Hammam – This is another must to fully experience the culture. It’s also known as a Turkish bath! We went on the recommendation of a friend to one called Heritage Spa. We were given these ridiculously small paper underwear type things to change into, then we went into a room with heated marble slabs that were covered in water to go be scrubbed down and exfoliated. It was so invigorating! We were then rinsed with a quick splash of cold water, then warm water again. The ladies then dried us off and applied lotion – super relaxing. We then changed into robes and went into a nice darker room with cushions on the floor to relax and drink some traditional mint tea. It was the perfect way to chill and pamper yourself and your tired feet after all day walking in the heat.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my guest post for Wine and Weekends and learning how to Rock the Casbah in Morocco! I’d love to connect with you and hear your travel stories and suggestions.
I hope you enjoyed this guest travel blog from Emily over at The Planking Traveler! Check her out and show some love!