When my Mum suggested in August that we book four days away in Marrakech for some winter sun, I immediately screamed my assent at her over the phone: ‘What!? Marrakech!?? Of COURSE I’ll come!’ At this point I had no idea what Marrakech had except for their pashmina scarves and hammans, and to be honest, I didn’t care.
Fast forward to the last week in November when we were due to fly out and I still had no idea. Usually when I visit a country my main goal is to experience the culture, and that generally means I research hard-core in order to: eat the local fare, attend a performance or exhibition, see a few statues and museums, and often learn something new that I can spout back to those at home. For Marrakech however, my plan consisted of this:
- Shopping in the souks
- Relaxing in the Hammans
Admittedly though, one small part of my brain was forcing encouraging me to visit the gardens I’ve read so much about.
But yes, much of my time was spent in the souks, and the rest split between the spa, beautiful gardens, and stuffing my face full of gorgeous fresh vegetables and tagines.
Souks and Moroccan Mint Tea:
I wholeheartedly recommend the souks. Never have I experienced so much colour, smells, and the sheer amount of things you could buy cheaply (a silver teapot and four cups for £30? Yes please!). The orange juice (with its balance of sweetness and acidity) was some of the best I’ve ever had, and I managed to pick up a few accessories including some costume jewellery (although you can easily buy genuine handcrafted silver and gold pieces), a bag made from old carpets, some authentic harem trousers (MC Hammer hasn’t got shit on me!) and, of course, some pure Moroccan argan oil.Now, the lovely medicine man from Herboristerie Bab Haddadine didn’t just introduce me to argan oil (which apparently helps clear acne, so here’s hoping!), but he also introduced me to my new, go-to-when-I’m-sick tea: green mint tea. Known also as Maghrebi mint tea, this Moroccan drink is a green tea flavoured with spearmint and a fuckload generous amount of sugar. For someone who really drinks next to no green tea unless on a ‘detox’ (ha, never), this drink was pleasantly surprising. I found myself scouring it out at restaurants and cafés, drinking cup after cup of this sweet goodness, and yes, I did bring some home with me, and have been making it daily ever since.*
*Although with marginally less sugar, and, let’s be honest, it’s not as good as when I was in Morocco.
After two days of shopping and a lot of walking, I dragged my Mum down to a spa near our hotel to experience an authentic Hamman. As someone who has never even been to a spa, I had never heard of a Hamman until my colleague who, raving and gushing about ‘never feeling cleaner,’ insisted I go.
Long story short: it was brilliant, and I will definitely be trying to find something similar in London.
In a nutshell, a Hamman is a steam room similar to a Turkish bath or Russian banya. For my treatment, I decided to get the black soap scrub (a must in Morocco), rounded off with a traditional Moroccan massage (which meant absolutely nothing to my ignorant self). After the exfoliation of a lifetime (two days later A was still saying my skin was soft), and an interesting massage (it involved a lot of bending and pulling and stretching whilst just wearing a thong), I was so utterly relaxed that I proceeded to fall asleep for an hour in their heated room whilst my Mum got her regular massage.
I reiterate. To experience the Hamman is an absolute must. Additionally I only paid £25 for the two hours I was there, so it was definitely cost-effective.Notwithstanding its great food, tea, people and bargains, Marrakech on the whole just has a good vibe. In fact, I’m incredibly tempted to list it as one of my top three cities, and it’s definitely one I would love to return to in the near future.
And woah, Nelly, I used a lot of brackets in this post!