Camels, snake charmers, monkeys in dresses, local cuisine, extraordinary architecture and hot weather can pretty much sum up my extremely quick and efficient traveling health coach edition of Marrakech. I was there for less than 48 hours and had a week’s worth of experience. I’m not one to sit around at a pool all day when there is so much to see. Marrakech is rich with culture and there was a lot to accomplish in a short amount of time!
If you are looking for a destination that is out of the ordinary and rich with culture, Marrakech, Morocco is the place!
Upon arrival I checked in at the luxurious La Mamounia Hotel located inside the walls of the “old city”. This hotel dates back to 1923, yet has been refurbished to a modern day 5 star hotel. Every inch of this property is decorated with beauty, even the ceilings that are all hand painted. The gardens are filled with 250-year-old olive trees and the gym is up to date with top of the line TechnoGym equipment.
Evening #1 consisted of walking through the local food market where you can find everything including: fresh fruit, dried dates and figs, nuts, chickens (alive), local breads, vegetables, dead hanging animals, grains and hand baked sweets.
Next we went to the El Jema Fna, or the main square, where hundreds (maybe thousands) of people gather every night of the week. There are tons of street vendors, snake charmers, men with monkeys on leashes (super sad dose of animal cruelty), things to buy and things to eat.
Day #2 after a great gym workout (it was over 100 degrees Fahrenheit), excellent post-workout breakfast at La Mamounia it was off for a quick shop. Bouriad Karim sells the most beautiful kaftans and hand-crafted clothes and accessories. Hint, hint – they sell their clothes to high end designers like Calypso, who then jacks up the prices! But you can get them straight from the source. And price negotiating is totally acceptable.
Lovers of beauty, zen and nature: listen up! The Jardin Majorelle is a must visit for you. The late Yves Saint Laurent has donated his little slice of heaven to the public for their enjoyment. The gardens contain plants from each of the 7 continents. So, you can literally walk from a bamboo forest directly into a cactus display that feels like Arizona. It’s magnificent and gives you time to decompress from a long flight or an afternoon walking the hectic parts of the city.
Next, we went out to the suburbs for a short camel ride. PS – If you’ve never ridden a camel before, the whole up down thing can be pretty frightening.
Then, lunch at Palais Namaskar, a is a German-managed hotel, super lux resort. Visit it if even just a drink by the pool. It’s stunning
From a safety standpoint, I actually felt very safe in Marrakech (besides that camel thing). There is a low crime rate and people are friendly. Nobody hassled me, haggled me or looked at me funny for being one of the very few women dressed in shorts and not covered up for religious purposes.
Don’t miss out on these healthy eats:
Moroccan tea, which you can get almost anywhere, is a must. All throughout the day this slightly sweetened mint green tea is a fabulous and harmless pick-me-up.
Fresh figs are plentiful. Eat them up while you can as the US only has a short growing season.
Fresh almond milk – they served it at my hotel and such a delight because I like to limit my dairy intake. No carrageenan, no preservatives, no junk, this is the real deal.
I don’t eat meat, but if I did I would probably partake in the lamb baked in a clay oven for 10 hours. The meat is locally sourced, grass fed and most likely hormone free (they looked pretty skinny to me).
Put Marrakech on your bucket list. Go for a few days and soak in the ancient culture as well as the new architecture. It’s unlike any part of Africa I have seen so far!
Bonus travel tip: Avoid the super hot summer months and aim for the winter or even late fall.