Saturday, 14 January 2017

A guide to Marrakesh

Getting Around Marrakesh

Marrakesh Menara Airport is about 20 minutes away from Marrakesh city centre.

On the way to the centre you will pass new hotel complexes complete with several restaurants, nightclubs and bars but if you want to be near the real action it's best to stay in the city centre.

In marrakech you can get around the city by foot , taxi , horse and cart or on a booked tour bus.
Taxis are cheap but it's best the hotel books them for you and agree a price.




Currency
Morrocan Dirham is a closed currency so you cannot buy Dirhams before arriving in Morroco.
You can purchase Dirham at the airport on arrival , there is a currency desk located in Menara airport on the way to the main exit.
If you are not intending on returning to Morocco it is best to spend the currency whilst you are there because you will not be able to exchange it outside of the country.
Accommodation
Marrakesh offers many types of accomodation you can stay in a luxurious secluded resort full of ammenties , a hotel in the city centre or try out living like a local by booking through air bnb.

One of the top 5 star resorts in Marrakesh is the Dar Ayniwen http://dar-ayniwen.com/

Air bnb offers the chance to stay in city centre penthouses , traditional morrocan homes or stay in a private room from as little as £10! https://www.airbnb.co.uk/s/Marrakesh--Marrakesh-Tensift-El-Haouz--Morocco

There are many options of hotels to choose from online , most offering hotels , spas and airport shuttles.

Spas
Almost every hotel offers a spa and if not, it is not hard to find one nearby as they are very popular in Marrakesh. Hammam is a steam room and local people usually visit at least once a week.

The hamman ritual is definitely a must when in Morroco. When you go to the spa they usually give you a robe and ask you to change into your swimwear and put this on.

Once dressed they will guide you to a steam room where you will spend around ten minutes , after this you may find it a shock so here`s a warning...you are showered in freezing cold water then asked to lie down on a stone table where they vigorously rub your entire body with a coarse hammam scrub.

When the scrub is rinsed off they will guide you away from the spa area into a relaxing candlelit room for a full body massage. By this stage you may be thinking what could possibly be next! The massage is full body and can be a bit of a killer ,they work on each part kneading out any tension. But afterwards when you are left to relax and start to feel completely relaxed so maybe there is a method beside the madness.
You can book your Hamman experience in Marrakesh here: https://www.madeinmarrakech.co.uk/hammams.html


The Night Market
The market is open during the day but it doesn't truly come alive until after dark. The best time to visit is between 6.00pm - 9.00pm.

As you walk towards the main market the sound of the folk music and the smells of the food stalls grows stronger. As soon as you enter you are inundated with offers to buy souvenirs , take part in games or watch a show.

There is plenty to see here from snake charmers , local folk bands , acrobats and trained monkeys.

It certainly is a unique experience. Rather than being a bystander get involved with the action...when in Marrakesh. Try holding a snake , enjoy the local music , play some of the games and try some of the local delicacies.

Once you pass through the main market you can take a wander around the narrow alleys of souks where you will find everything from locally made perfumes , dried fruits , leather bags , lanterns to traditional ornaments.It's best to pack light to keep plenty of room for your haul!




Spices 
To really explore the spices Marrakesh has to offer book onto a spice tour . These guys offer a comprehensive tour which includes the chance to visit a spice market and try them out too. http://www.urbanadventures.com/Marrakech-tour-a-taste-of-marrakech-inside-the-medina
In most of the spice shops they will tell you about the benefits of each spice and you will no doubt leave with bags of treats to try out in your own recipes when you return home. Saffron is pretty cheap in Marrakesh so it's worth picking up some.



Carpets
Buying a rug in Marrakesh is an experience in itself. At the door there usually will be a carpet maker weaving a traditional rug , they will also ask if you would like to have a go. Then you enter the main shop where you will be greeted by a sales person who will guide you to a seated area and offer some mint tea. Then they will ask what colour , size , budget you have in mind. Bare in mind the carpet shops are like Aladdin's cave so it is best to go in with a style and colour in mind as the poor assistants will otherwise be running around for hours looking for a type you may like.
The quality of the rugs is fantastic and the design of each is unique , certainly an investment for your home. All of the carpet stores offer shipping so don't worry about carrying it home with you!
It is really important to haggle for the best price as they will not expect you to accept the first price they offer.





Food
Traditional cuisine is still the number one choice of locals and visitors so you will not find many restaurants in the main city centre that offer westernised food. Although this isn't a bad thing as the food is great.
The food is fresh and locally sourced , the perfect place to try a curry or tagine.

You will find a couple of european restaurants away from the markets on the main road which offer food with italian , french and spanish influences if you fancy something a bit different.







Architecture
The attention to detail is second to none. The buildings are ornately decorated with colourful tiling , the ceilings are certainly something to marvel so much so you will end up with a sore neck from looking up for so long.







Yves Saint Laurent Garden
Jardin Majorelle , owned by the late designer Yves Saint Laurent is a star attraction in Morocco.
It is easy to see why the designer took so much inspiration from the botanical gardens. From the brightly coloured walls , traditional moroccan architecture to the collection of art the garden is a serene place away from the hustle and bustle of the city that is a must visit.





Having a tour guide comes in handy in Marrakesh , they will bring you to the best shops and show you the best sites. This website has a great selection of tours , including a desert tour if you fancy exploring a bit further afield http://www.morocco-excursions.co.uk/ .

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