Five Days in Marrakech---March, 2016
We recently spent five days in Marrakech as an extension of our trip to Southern Spain (see separate trip report on the Spain part of our trip). Since we had limited time in Morocco, we decided on using Marrakech as our base and try to get a bit of a feel for this interesting country. First regret was that we did not have more time to explore Fez and other interesting places.
We made all our arrangements through Morocco Tours (www.moroccotours.org) which is based in the US and North Africa. They were terrific and responsive to our many requests. I also liked them because they have very local experience and yet I could easily pay them through their US office.
We booked a private tour for just the two of us which included airport transfers, a private car/driver available to us at all times, Riad accommodations at a 4/5 star Riad, many meals, and tour guides. We were very happy with the quality of every aspect of their arrangements. Sure, it is more expensive but well worth every extra dollars.
Our driver was a young Moroccan who spoke perfect English and a fantastic personality. He treated us like we were part of his family and made sure all our needs were. Fundamentally, he would do anything we needed to make the trip interesting and fun.
We stayed at Riad Due which was an enchanting four room hotel right on the edge of the old market (souk) place in the middle of winding alleyways with shops and tapas bars and real living. We booked the Abdel suite which was one of the largest room we have every booked. It was the size of a volleyball court with wonderful old world wood and charm. It was everything you can imagine staying in Marrakech would be. Dining at one’s Riad is quite common and Riad Due did not disappoint. It was romantic and charming and better than average food.
We toured Marrakech for a day including the amazing Majorelle Gardens developed by the French painter and further developed by Yves Saint Laurent and the amazing Bahia Palace. This was a must see. Of course, wandering around the Souk with our guide and driver was fantastic. It truly felt centuries old yet modern at the same time. People were extremely friendly and many spoke English so they could bargain with you for leather goods, slippers, metal work, spices and so much more..
During our trip, we took one day to drive to the Atlas Mountains and saw a small hint of mountain Berber life. We also took a one day drive to Essaouira on the Atlantic coast to see an entirely different part of Moroccan life oriented towards the sea where fisherman and artisan workshops are plentiful. BTW, both day trips were arranged spontaneously. We simply told our driver what we wanted to do and he arranged everything and took us there at no extra charge. When they said the car and driver were available to us for whatever we wanted to do, they meant it. We did pay extra for local guides in both places but it was very nominal. Having a driver allowed us to visit small boutique arts and crafts collectives and the place where Argane oil is made and sold and a great discount. Argane is the new health and beauty rage and fun to buy as gifts for those back home.
One special evening, we had dinner at Dar Moha, a few blocks from our Riad. This is a world class Moroccan restaurant with elegant food and presentation, yet it wasn’t “stuffy” or pretentious. We dressed in our everyday tourist clothes and were quite comfortable. Every course was presented in a special way and tasted as good as it looked. Don’t miss this one. We paid about $55 per person for the multi-course dinner.
While five days can only give us a hint of the history and culture of Morocco, the variety of experiences that we were able to pack in helped us determine that we must come back.
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Five Days in Marrakech---March, 2016