I have been meaning to make this post for a while now. As we are well into the summer here, we are starting to think about our next vacation. The next few months are going to be hectic for us, and we are looking forward to all the new adventures in store for us. Until then, its the beautiful memories of our last vacation, that keep us going forward. We decided to visit morocco for our last vacation. It was an amazing one week. We decided on making Marrakech, the capital city of Morocco as our base camp 🙂
We started with a touristy day trip that was arranged by our riad (a home style bed and breakfast, generally traditional homes in the heart of the city). We did a quick tour of the medina, the central market , followed by a visit to the Bahia palace, one of the most famous land marks of Marrakech.
Medina & Bahia palace
Medina is the old historic part of town, famous for the maze of narrow roads with thousands of shops selling everything from trinkets to expensive handicrafts. It is a kaleidoscope of colors and sounds. If you are not used to the chaos of crowded street markets, it can be overwhelming. But it made us feel right at home and reminded us of the old city of Hyderabad , back home, where narrow streets lined with hundreds of shops sell all kinds of things. Funny thing is, there is actually a medina in hyderabad also 🙂
The Bahia palace was constructed for one of the most important ministers of Morocco. It was built with a lot of care and appreciation for the artisans of Morocco. The guide mentioned that it took six years of work by hundreds of specialists working on the exquisite tile work and delicate plaster work, that adorned the walls and floors. You can clearly see the influence of Berber and Islamic cultures. We had lunch after visiting the Bahia palace. It was a nice meal.
One of the interesting things that we observed in Morocco was the orange trees that were every where. It was not just the streets lined with orange trees, they were everywhere in the market and I think we never had a breakfast without fresh squeezed orange juice.
Agafay Desert & Atlas Mountains
The next day, we had booked a two day desert trip. The husband found this awesome trip which was a couple of hours drive from Marrakech in an eco-lodge. The package included overnight camping in the desert and we expected that it would be an interesting experience out of our comfort zone. We were pleasantly surprised by our experience, including the breathtaking views of the snow capped Atlas mountains from the edge of the desert. It was surreal riding a camel in the desert watching snow capped mountains in the distance. We also got our very own Bedouin tents, complete with a working toilet and shower. The hospitality was outstanding. Traditional mint tea and sweet snacks really set the mood for the relaxed stay. The eco-friendly resort was completely self sustained and off the grid. It had its own garden, cattle, poultry, water supply and solar powered heating systems.Everything served at the restaurant was grown on premise. The food was some of the best we have ever had. The next day, we woke up to the beautiful views and had an amazing breakfast with orange juice, fresh bread, butter, fresh fruits and local honey which was nothing like we ever tasted. We went back to our tent and sat in our lounging chairs and just relaxed in the warm morning sun for a couple of hours. We talked very little and just took in the views in absolute silence. It was an amazing experience.
After coming back from the desert, we packed our day packs again, for our next day trip to the coast. This was a small surprise that the husband had planned for me. He kept giving me vague clues that made me really excited as we got into the small bus with about twenty other day tourists that were grouped together by the travel agency. It was a somewhat boring 4 hour drive, but luckily our driver was very talkative. We were lucky to ride shot gun beside the driver, and were able to get some nice views of the highway and also had a nice chat with our friendly driver.
The vibrant Essaouira was the quintessential Mediterranean postcard coastal city . After giving some more vague clues, the husband led me to an ancient fort and asked me if I recognized it. It is at that moment, that I realized what he had been trying to show me. This city was where game of thrones was shot. Well , it was some scenes of season 3. Being a huge GoT fan, it was cool, to be looking at all the places, that we saw on TV 🙂 . We spent the afternoon walking aimlessly in the medina, which was much more laid back and less crowded than Marrakesh. It was also definitely more beautiful. There were shops selling amazing pieces of traditional Moroccan handicrafts. We wanted to buy all the beautiful things we saw, but we were able select a few that we really liked. I got a beautiful dress and it was definitely a steal, as I know we would have paid a lot more for something like that in the US.
Majorelle gardens and Berber Museum
After our day trip, we came back to our hotel and relaxed for the day. We had a quiet dinner at one of the restaurants in the medina and called it a day. The next day, we visited Yves Saint Laurent Gardens known as Majorelle gardens. It took the French painter Jacques Majorelle, forty years of passion and dedication to create this enchanting garden in the heart of Marrakech, which was then bought and curated further by YSL. The distinctive, soothing and enchanting cobalt blue called the Majorelle blue is everywhere in this place, that became the trademark of its founder. Next, we visited the Berber museum in Majorelle gardens which has an exclusive collection of objects like crafts work, daily objects, festivals or ceremonies, jewels and Berber musical instruments originating from diverse regions of Morocco.
Museum of Marrakech
We also visited the museum of Marrakech, that holds exhibits of both modern and traditional Moroccan art. The highlight of the Museum is a very large centrally hung chandelier-esque ceiling piece consisting of metal plates.
Our daily evening routine also included considerable amounts of people watching on the streets of medina as we drank our mint tea from one of the numerous cafes in the central square.
One of the best things about travel is the friends you make. We were lucky enough to have made a couple of such friends in our vacation. What started as a friendly chat to help them with suggestions with day trip turned into one of the most memorable things of our trip. Fausta and Bea are best friends for more than two decades, who decided to take a girl friend vacation to morocco. They were Italian and amazing fun.
At the end of the week, we were refreshed, relaxed and ready to take on the new year. It was a crazy ride back to the US with adventures that can be its own blog. It was crazy fun to be on this trip and I will truly cherish this.
I hope you enjoyed my travel blog post as much I enjoyed making it.