Marrakech and Essaouira

Tracey Blackman on 22 March 2017
Morocco, and Marrakech in particular has been on my travel bucket list for as long as I can remember and last week, I was finally able to visit. Whilst I was excited to see the inside of the beautiful riads and eat as much of the delicious food as I could, the one place that I have dreamed of visiting was Jemaa el-Fna and the souks. As we left our hotel (we were staying at Movenpick Mansour Eddhabi) and drove closer, the big roads began to get narrower and narrower until we were driving in and out of side roads and alleys full of little hole in the wall shops.

We were dropped off just outside the entrance to the souks and paired up with a guide. Our guy was called Sami and he was super chilled. Walking ahead, he easily navigated us through the maze of stalls as we all trailed behind; stopping in amazement as we peered into each stall. He stopped every so often to let us catch up although we were all cautious to keep an eye on him because if we got lost in there we'd never get ourselves out!

The whole market had a very Arabian nights feel to it. Each street was different whether it was intricate lanterns and men melting metal in their shops, mounds of spice piled up high or leather slippers hanging down from the ceiling. You smell those before you saw them! The market is an experience for all of your senses; if you aren't marvelling at all of the colour, then you are jumping out of the way of a motorbike or trying to ignore the men shouting across for you to come into their shops. It's a very overwhelming experience, but it was absolutely incredible as well! A guide really is a great idea as they know the Souks so well and that way you don't get to miss anything.

After that fantastic experience we had dinner in a restaurant called Salama it had low lighting, lots of pictures on the walls and fabulous things dotted around, then we had a show of Belly Dancing, it was great fun, the ladies balance trays on there heads and they are lit candles, I got picked to go up and balance one of these trays and they were very heavy, the food was sharing dishes, lots of Tagines and dishes to try, what a great night we all had.

The next day we went off to another hotel called Royal Mansour Hotel and within this hotel you can stay in your very own Riad, very beautifully decorated in Authentic colours and materials, and also great as a family to all have your own private space. After an amazing lunch we were then whisked off to go Go -Karting or cooking and of course I had to have a go at Karting, really was great fun, I certainly wasn't the fastest but really enjoyed it.

In the evening we went off to Le Palace for a night of Dancing and great food.

The next visit was to Amandier Hotel and personally one hotel I fell in love with, this was at the foothills of the snow-capped Atlas Mountains, breathtaking views and you could walk to the lake that was a vibrant green, stunning, also they cooked lamb in a mud oven for 8 hours and although I don't eat lamb it looked amazing, so was the chicken and the vegetables. With its own villa type accommodations, with lots of outside living it really is the perfect place to chill and unwind.

The next morning we were then on our way to Essaouira which is on the coast with stretches of sand and camels on the beach, also the Souk is wider to go into and wasn't as busy so you had lots more time to look and buy things. The hotel we stayed in was the Atlas hotel and Spa and I had a fabulous Sea view room, only 1 night here. That evening we went to the most stunning Restaurant called L'heure Blue, behind these beautiful wooden doors there was oasis of palm trees and flowers in the middle, then above you were Riads. The restaurant was just stunning, food was amazing and had such a lot of atmosphere and its classed as one of the top 10 Restaurants of the world.

On this trip I saw 3 different vistas: Marrakech with its busy Souks but tree lined roads, very clean and felt very safe. Then, the foothills of the Atlas Mountains where the air is so clean and the stars are so bright, and then the beautiful coastline of Essaouira to kite surf or just take in the warm sea breeze.

I certainly will be going back to Morocco and for a 3-hour journey time from London it’s also a great short break that just feels as though you are somewhere exotic and different and also very safe. I will be recommending my clients and friends and family to go to this wonderful place, and I can not wait to return.