We stayed in Marrakech for the first several days during my trip. One of the first things I noticed was the driving – the roads are pure chaos! Yet, it is an organized chaos. In traffic circles, no one is following the lanes. The road is shared by trucks, cars, motorbikes, sometimes even mules. I don’t know how they all share the road without crashing, but it somehow just works!
The contrast of coexisting extremes also surprised me. I saw motorbikes with several people piled on sharing the road with expensive sports cars. That’s not something that I see every day!
La ville en rose
We all know Edith Piaf’s song “La vie en rose.” To me, Marrakech is la ville en rose – the rose-tinted city. Everything seemed warm-toned, from the buildings to the red sand. Contrasting the red buildings are the bright green palm trees! Palms line every street. I was very amused to see that they disguise some electrical towers as palm trees. 🙂
It’s still very warm in September, but it’s a dry heat so it wasn’t as hot as I was expecting. My first evening, I actually saw a sandstorm – something I have never experienced before! We watched from our balcony as the view became increasingly obstructed by sand and dust. At one point we couldn’t see beyond two feet in front of the balcony!
I quickly found that tea time and cafes are very important in the Moroccan culture. Every day we stopped for a coffee or tea and to chat. We even had a snack before dinner at cafes, sometimes. Cafes are the spot to hang out!
Jemaa el-Fna is a lively square that is an absolute must-see when visiting Marrakech. We went the first night with his family. The square was filled with crowds of people. As you walk through, there are performers, musicians, vendors, and a group of food stands. There was so much going on, I didn’t even know where to look! There are snake charmers, but I’m petrified of snakes so we avoided that part.
The Pearl Hotel
We stayed in a hotel suite at The Pearl Hotel for the first couple of nights in downtown Marrakech. The hotel has a beautiful interior design with a huge sunroof over the open lobby. While we stayed, the hotel displayed large art pieces for auction.
Our hotel suite was absolutely gorgeous, with a balcony overlooking the Medina walls. We were welcomed with huge baskets filled with fresh fruit, dried fruit, cakes, nuts, and other snacks. I felt absolutely spoiled!
We were so busy that we didn’t spend much time in the hotel. However, we did get to take advantage of the rooftop pool and bar. The rooftop boasts an amazing view over the city in all directions. The pool circling the sunroof has a current, like a small lazy river.
Riad Les jardins d’henia
We stayed at the riad Les Jardins d’henia for our last evening in Marrakech. Driving through the Medina to find the riad was pretty hysterical. Reda’s brother kept stopping to ask people if we were driving in the right direction, because the roads are difficult to navigate inside the city walls. The riad was down a small alley and there wasn’t really a place to park. Some random men on the corner volunteered to watch over the car, so we legitimately left the car on the side of a random road in the Medina! Perks of traveling with locals!
From the outside the riad looked like nothing, just walls matching the surrounding buildings. When you walk in, it opens up into a beautiful open courtyard with fruit trees and ornate decorations. This concept of the “humble entrance” was very common in a lot of the places I visited in Morocco. The riad had another courtyard with a pool, and a hammam available to all guests!
Our suite included a sitting room, bedroom area, bathroom, and a private patio! Check out the tiny little door to the toilet inside the bathroom – I ducked to go through the door and I am only 5’2”!