Some little girls dream of big weddings. I was dreaming of going to Morocco as a kid. I would find books on the famed blue city of Chefchaouen and of course, the designs and architecture. With a plane ticket to Casablanca purchased, I just needed to figure out how I was getting to Marrakech but assumed I would figure out the train system once I landed. I was completely annoyed with Iberia airlines because I flew business class and they didn’t give me the proper customs form in advance. I was so embarrassed when I got to the front of the line empty handed. I never wanted to be that person but there I was. Trying to give them a complete itinerary of multiple hotels across Morocco in a rush was so fun as all the businessmen just judged me. I don’t do unprepared!
Downstairs I purchased first class tickets to Marrakech (the trains come frequently so you don’t actually need to purchase them in advance). You do however want to spend the extra money on first class as you will have an assigned seat and not be in a mass rush to find one. I didn’t have a direct ticket and had to switch trains with an overweight suitcase. Jesus sent an angel to help me carry it down the stairs and back up again at the other station (there wasn’t an elevator). Tip: Don’t over pack.
A few hours later, I arrive in Marrakech, grab a taxi, and I’m on my way. I spot camels immediately. I stayed at Angsana Riad, which was a little difficult to find, as it seems no one had heard of it? It was beautiful! The rooms were comfortable and the hotel staff was completely welcoming and helpful with anything a guest could possibly request be it a spa day or shopping.
The Medina is where you will find everything. It can be overwhelming and you will certainly get lost. Bags, babouches, rugs, leather, Moroccan oils, spices… it’s all there. Be ready to negotiate and keep in mind that different vendors will certainly have varying prices and selections. If you follow me on Instagram, the particular medina in the photos is where I found the clutch I posted earlier this week. It was so beautiful. It’s probably best not to buy the first thing you see. At night it’s crazy with crowds of people but I would be remiss to leave out the live music. I didn’t mind being surrounded by hoards of people because I could take in traditional Moroccan sounds. It was something my eyes and ears could never have really prepared for. Keep your things close though… I will never lie here. I yelled at a child who ran up and bear-hugged me. I don’t like people violating my personal space or touching me, and if they thought they were going to pickpocket me, they had another thing coming. Some people did laugh and look at me funny.
Bahia Palace has so much history and you can learn it no matter what language you speak. Walking around I was listening to German, French and Chinese versions of the same stories about different parts of the palace. When it comes to architecture and design, have your camera and phones charged. From “I have this thing with floors” to the sculptured ceilings, each room was very carefully crafted. Why hasn’t Vogue done a photo shoot here? That’s the question I need an answer to. I had an impromptu photo shoot with the cutest kitten I ever did see (we were best-friends because he assumed my scarf was food). The flowers and gardens here are pretty amazing too. Make time to take it all in.
I bought the most beautiful traditional wedding blanket at Lahandira. If you travel to Marrakech, you cannot skip this stop. They have a beautiful selection of rugs and blankets. I spent quite awhile talking to them and learning the history of the rugs and blankets.
Babouches: There’s a small shop right across from Angsana Riad. I am posting the video to Facebook of the man who made mine. He makes them in the shop by hand and they are the softest most beautiful made shoes you will find. You will see so many in the Medina but I loved spending time talking to him and learning about how long he’s been making them and some of the many people he’s made them for. I met a local Moroccan woman while I was there along with a few Parisians. In addition to babouches, you can also find some beautiful leather belts and other accessories. This is where I had my Carrie Bradshaw moment. You really can’t go wrong with any of the colors and styles but it’s fun trying them all on.
Notes: There is so much more to Morocco than Marrakech and the Medina. I didn’t even include the local food or all the other places in Morocco in this post. I will definitely be taking a trip back (carrying an EpiPen) because I like to eat everything while traveling and I had the worst health scare due to an allergic reaction. What’s here is what happened before I was eating all the things. I do really love the people in Marrakech though. Even while I learned a hard lesson about not carrying medicine, I can say I had Moroccan good time!