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Discovering Morocco… | Marrakech | Day 1

I decided that each year in December I will be going somewhere new, as a gift to myself for my birthday. For my first experience of the kind, I decided it to be Morocco.

Morocco is the first African country I have ever visited. And I hope it is one of the many more to come.

Located in the extreme north-west of the African continent, it is practically situated at the intersection of Europe and Africa. Separated only by a narrow strait of land known as Gibraltar and the warm waters of the Mediterranean and the Atlantic (1,5 hours by ferry), Morocco is a country that astonishes with its dizzying diversity.

Drawn by the Moroccan culture and lifestyle, this destination welcomes over 11 mil tourists each year. Picture perfect antique architecture, sand-colored fortresses, rugged scenery, melodiously chanted Adhans overheard from the mosques, all this looks like it was ripped from the “Tales of 1,001 Nights”.

First destination – Marrakech.

My first morning there I couldn’t stop staring at the horizon unfolding in front of my eyes from the roof of the riad I was staying in. Mornings in Marrakech are exceptionally beautiful especially because of the Adhans, the prayers you can hear all throughout the city at about 7:30 am right before the sunrise, and during the day. 

I’ve been told by the locals that this prayer is the most powerful one, so mornings are a sacred time of the day for the Arabs.

I was pleasantly surprised with a light iftar (breakfast) consisting of orange juice, harcha which is a traditional round bread served with butter, jam and honey, and some yogurt. Upon request, you could ask for traditional mint tea or coffee. All throughout the trip, the girls I travelled with and I stayed in riads for an authentic Moroccan experience. So the riad in Marrakech that I stayed in was my first encounter with such a traditional Moroccan house with a rooftop terrace.

in December, temperatures can rise up to 26 degrees Celsius during the day, but at night and early in the morning it gets rather chilly.

Traveling with a group of girls has its advantages, you will have lots of photos taken of you (not selfies) in such beautiful places like nowhere else in the world that will serve as sweet memories for a looooong time. So in the following posts, I’ll be sharing many sweet memories from this breathtaking trip to Morocco.

We started our sightseeing with a visit to the Majorelle Garden.

Cobalt blue <3

A long time ago, this Villa Oasis and the adhering Majorelle Garden were home to Yves Saint – Laurent and his then partner Pierre Berge when they’d stay in Marrakech. Fully in love with the beauty of it, YSL bought it and turned it into a “sanctuary” of his own, a nest where the artist would draw inspiration for his new creations. When he died, his ashes were scattered in the Majorelle Garden. The oasis is known now as the Yves Saint – Laurent memorial.

The Bahia Palace is another beautiful place we visited. Located in the heart of the medina, this 19th century palace now serves as a historical museum widely visited by tourists. It is beautiful, it is brilliant, an architectural delight consisting of 150 rooms and a harem section. The palace was once home to Ba Ahmed and his four wives featuring beautiful gardens with orange trees, fountains and colorful stained-glass windows that create playful patterns in the flirty rays of the Moroccan sun.

The lunch we enjoyed at the world-renowned Atay cafe. The food was delicious, but even better was the view. The cafe has a rooftop terrace with splendid views of the Marrakech city.

Atay cafe in Marrakech
Couscous with Vegetables

The most traditional dishes you will find in Morocco are tagine and couscous. Both come in a variety of types. It is very tasty, but rather dry, so coupled with some refreshing drink or orange juice in my case was the perfect way to stay hydrated and enjoy the remainder of the day.

The last hours of the day we enjoyed in the Jamaa el Fna square which is the exact reproduction of the stories you might have heard about the Moroccan snake charmers, Chleuh dancing-boys, men with chained Barbary apes, water sellers in colorful outfits, henna ladies, and more. At night, it gets very crowded, and at first, somewhat scary. As a vegetarian and an animal lover, I felt very sad at the scenes unfolding in front of my eyes. The only thing that caught my attention and put a smile on my face was the snake charmers as I’ve never seen anything like that in my life before, and the oriental musical motifs of course.

stray cats of Marrakech

An interesting fact I noticed is the huge amount of cats on the streets of Marrakech, and no dogs, none!! The explanation I was given by the locals and a brief research I made on the internet kind of put the puzzle together. The explanation will follow in one of the next posts. This has to do with the religious beliefs of the Arabs.

Next day followed a trip to a Berbers village in the Atlas Mountains, an unforgettable experience I will write about in the next post.

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