Our first stop in Morocco was Marrakesh. Our flight from Paris on RyanAir was only $45 and was probably the best $45 we have ever spent. Morocco is one of the brightest and liveliest countries around. Do us a favor and double check that Morocco is near the top of your travel destination list.
When planning our 16 days in Morocco we had the hardest time picking a hotel to stay at. Every place we considered looked so beautiful and decorated in the photos. We had 5 different hotels bookmarked for Marrakesh and after serious contemplation we finally decided to go with Palais Sebban. And we are so glad we did! Palais Sebban was like a dream. Every morning in the courtyard we started out our day with the best mint tea and fresh squeezed orange juice.
Our room was over the top opulent. It was such a completely different vibe than the tiny apartment in Paris we were staying the night before.
It's crazy that for the same price as a small studio in Paris we were able to afford this beautiful room here in Marrakesh. We loved the red tile work in the bathroom, the old fashioned lock on the door, the stone shower inside the wall.
Staying in a riad while visiting Morocco is an amazing experience. A riad is a traditional two+ story Moroccan house or palace with an interior garden or courtyard. Most of the riad's have a pool and because of their unique design most of the hotel is open air. The weather while we were here was perfect, about 70-80° F the whole time. We were off to a good start!
There were so many nooks and seating areas to relax in.
Every night for sunset we would head to the terrace. Being on the rooftop while the sun set over the Atlas mountains was an incredible experience. The Atlas mountains look like the Sierra Nevadas in the distance and while the sun began to disappear the city and its dozens of mosques began projecting the call to prayer. In Muslim countries this call to prayer is heard 5 times a day, at first it can be overwhelming but overtime it becomes almost soothing. As this all takes over your senses you are subtly reminded that you are very far from home.
Your first taste of Morocco will undoubtedly be mint tea. This sugary tea concoction is delicious and is served all day. The smell of fresh mint will now forever remind us of Morocco. Always remember to keep the kettle as high above the cup as you can while you pour the tea!
The old town or medina is the main attraction in Marrakesh. We recommend staying inside the medina so you always feel like you are part of the action. This area is home to the crazy souks and the famous snake charmer square.
Inside the maze of covered souks is a magnificent market. The shopping in Morocco is famous. In this one market you can buy anything from a handmade rug, to a live turtle.
Jemaa el Fnaa
Just us and a cobra! In the Jemma el Fnaa square snake charming has been a profession for hundreds of years. These men share the square with fortune tellers, monkey trainers, musicians, and performers. Be careful, if you snap a photo it will cost you. These guys mean business but it's all part of the fun.
At night the square comes alive as food stalls pop-up and vendors set up for business. This entire area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site to preserve the old traditions and to keep the Moroccan culture for future generations.
Our favorite thing in the square were the fresh orange juice stalls. 40 cents gets you a tall glass of fresh squeezed clementine or grapefruit juice. Here's Ang getting an insider peak.
Marrakesh Food Tour
Our first night in Marrakesh we went on Marrakesh Food Tour. We decided to do this food tour the first day to double as a tour of the medina. Being in a totally foreign place that is constantly being called a "maze" in our research we figured the food tour would show us the good food and how to get around. Turned out to be a great idea!
Above: The best olives and preserved lemons imaginable. This pungent aroma of olives could be smelled from 100 yards away.
Below: On our food tour we started with a sardine sandwich, this sounds gross; it was actually very good. We had a giant plate of couscous with vegetables and sweet caramelized onions with cinnamon on top. Yum! We also had some grilled corn dipped in salt water, various meats slow cooked underground and even some lambs head!
This place was exceptionally elegant. For those of you who are not on a tight budget we would highly recommend staying at La Sultana. Or if you are like us, go here for lunch and stay awhile.
Marrakesh is a mix of fast and slow, the medina and the city is crazy but inside these beautiful riads all you can hear is the birds chirping and the trickle of a fountain. The riads are contained by tall exterior walls, all of the beauty is inside, you could walk by these places for days and never know they exist, so do your research and find the city's secret oasis's.
This botanical garden is a Moroccan version of a park. The gardens are incredibly manicured and host over three hundred of plant species from five continents. In the 1920's a French painter cultivated this desert mirage, famous for its electric blue color now named "Majorelle Blue." His old art studio has now been turned into a Berber (North African nomadic people) museum.
Now that we are dressed to travel in the desert it is time to head onto our next destination, for now we leave the busy medina and are headed to the beaches!