Marrakesh – mint tea and a scary massage
Some friends and I went on a five day mini-holiday to Marrakesh, courtesy of easyjet’s cheap flights.
We stayed in a traditional riad (guesthouse) in Medina, which is Marrakesh’s old town surrounded by a large stone wall. It was a great little place to stay, very central and the coffee we got for breakfast was amazing. We usually took it on the terrace overlooking the rooftops.
On our first day, we explored the city. The many winding roads had us lost about ten minutes after leaving the hotel. We were often redirected by Moroccans either trying to be helpful or trying to guide us to their shop/café/haram/riad etc. We found ourselves on a long road lined by stall after stall selling items ranging from herbs and spices to handbags, carpets, henna tattoos, fake designer goods and, of course, Moroccan souvenirs.
We then visited the Palais de la Bahia, which is a lovely palace built in the 1860’s. It housed a harem of 4 wives and 24 concubines in it’s prime. You walk through cool and shady rooms with beautiful ceilings and intricate woodwork, and then step into a blindingly white courtyard or a pretty garden.
Near the Palais de la Bahia is the Palais el Badii. It is just a ruin really, but is still impressive in it’s monumental size. The orange sandstone looks stunning in the setting sun. For a small sum, you can climb to a terrace overlooking the city.
We also booked ourselves into a hammam, to get a traditional massage and full-body peeling. It turned into a slightly scary experience, with two bulky and silent women aggressively scrubbing us down head to foot in a sweltering, dark room. But we did make it to the massage afterwards, which of course was fantastic and my skin has never been smoother.
Other than massages and palaces, we went on a little camel ride on the outskirts of the city.
In general, we spent too much time at stands eating tajine and calamari. Almost every night ended in a bar near the main square, one of the few places that sold alcoholic cocktails inside Medina. It also had shisha and belly-dancers, as well as a rooftop view of the city. It was fab, but for some reason I have absolutely no photos of it.
To end our wee holiday, we paid £25 to spend a day at the pool in the 5 star Sofitel Hotel. Did we overpay just for a heated pool and a day of luxury? Probably.
Check out Bali and the Gili Islands