Take every chance you can in life, because some things only happen once…. but not in this case… in this case, I will definitely be back Morocco! You won my heart!
From Marrakesh Medina and it’s contrasting new town, to driving over the Atlas mountains (still snow capped in May) to the earthen buildings of Ait Benhaddou and on to the captivating dunes of the Sahara desert in Mhamid , then finally on to Agadir and Essaouira, this country literally changed at every turn in the road but we didn’t anticipate what an amazing experience we would have here. Morocco left us speechless and wanting more.
I have to say, this was the first holiday where I really wasn’t ready to fly home. I was even checking flights to see if I could stay 4 extra days , unfortunately we couldn’t, but I have promised myself that some day I will return.
Here is what we got up to over our 10 day trip. We managed to fit in two Game of Thrones filming locations too!
We flew Dublin to Marrakesh thanks to ryanair. (Shur where would you be without them). Initially we planned two nights in Marrakesh. On arrival, I gotta say, I was out of my comfort zone, everything was so different as we made our way through the busy streets.
We arrived late afternoon and went straight to our Raid Palacio de las especias Marrakesh, where, we were greeted with smiles and Morocco’s famous mint tea. Surprisingly refreshing in the afternoon sun. Once settled in to our amazing room, they prepared a Moroccan tasting meal for us. Each course as delicious as the last. Every time we thought we were finished, another plate appeared from the kitchen.
We chilled on the rooftop terrace (complete with a traditional Berber tent may I add) listening to the call to prayer and got an early night. Our room was amazing and the food there was delicious.
Check it out 😊
We spent the next two days exploring the Medina and souks, wandering the narrow streets, shopping, eating, drinking and people watching. FYI! An empty suitcase would be advised for your return flight , there are such amazing rugs, blankets, cushion covers, shoes, lamps, plates, spices, herbs and so much more to be found here.
We visited Bahia Palace, and the YSL Gardens (Jardin Majorelle), We found the most amazing rooftop restaurant bar in the middle of the Medina, Terrasse des Epices. The perfect spot to watch sunset. (booking is essential for food)
We sat on the rooftop of cafe France in Jamaa-El-Fnaa sipping mint tea and watching the madness below.
We walked to the new town and hit up the famous Barometre, well worth the 40min walk each way. The bar has a crazy scientist feel with concoctions of all sorts used for alcohol infusions.
I had the nicest gin cocktail of my life there! (Rosée du Matin) Actually , I’d even go as far as saying it was the nicest alcoholic drink I’ve ever had EVER. Infused with actual rose petals and mint, the smell alone was captivating and it tasted heavenly. (Yes i did just refer to alcohol as heavenly, don’t judge) We sat and enjoyed the live DJ playing chilled house music. It was lovely. We had planned on eating there because we heard that they have a pretty tasty tapas menu, but they were booked out.
(Ill probably dedicate a blog post solely to Marrakesh because it deserves to be in the limelight)
The next morning we collected our rental car and mentally prepared ourselves for the crazy driving conditions ahead in order to to get out of Marrakesh, we survived and made on our way to Ait Benhaddou, our first Moroccan road trip.
It does take time to get around Morocco, the roads are good but there are speed limits and the police are always out with speed guns, although we never had any issues. If you go up north I think there are motorways, but distance takes time here.There is alot of activity on the side of the roads, overloaded donkeys, women carrying all sorts. Kids cycling to and from school. It’s a great way to meet locals.
Moroccan earthen clay architecture & (GOT location 1)
It was late afternoon when we arrived and I was hangry.
(GOT location 1)
I could have done with a snickers, anyway, I stupidly decided to have pizza on the way in to the Ksar which meant I missed out on their candle light, homemade, traditional Moroccan dinner. Let’s just say, I deeply regretted not waiting. It looked amazing and a really good opportunity to speak with and meet other travelers. Lesson learned! Never let yourself get HANGRY!
We spent the night in Kasbah Tebi located inside the historic ksar of Ait Benhaddou a UNESCO world heritage site and one of only four family dwellings still lived in inside the walls of the Ksar.
We explored the Ksar at dusk and watched the sunset from the highest point, it was breathtaking to see the vastness below. Truly breathtaking! On the way back to the kasbah the light was growing dim. Men used boiled kettles to wash and shave themselves and they actually lock the Ksar from the inside at night so we had to be let out by one of the few people living within the walls. They were all so lovely, always smiling. We went back to Tebi for some stargazing before bed. There is no electricity within the walls of the Ksar making it the perfect star-gazing spot by night. The next morning Thomas got up to watch the sun rise, I opted out. The little shops along the narrow streets have the most amazing finds, honestly, the best shopping in morocco!
By 12pm we were on the road again and heading to the desert! The drive was long and sweaty. (too much information?!) It was really eye opening to see how the villages and towns changed along the way the further we got into the desert.
The destination, Mhamid.
We had read that Mhamid is less popular due to some border disputes which are all sorted now, so we presumed it would be the more authentic option.
We arrived at camp Sahara holidays late that evening. The boys were great fun from the get go, after some mint tea they let us loose into the desert dunes to watch the sun set. What a place to be for sunset!! cool sand in between your toes, palm trees barely swaying in the breeze, everything glowing bright.
The sun drops off so fast, going and going for ages, then gone in the blink of the eye to reveal the star light sky. I didn’t expect to be blown away by the sky because I thought, shur I live in the countryside! but my god , was I blown away. We had actually only planned to stay one night in the desert but it was so, so nice there, we stayed two nights. Camp Sahara was the only desert camp in Mhamid that had reviews on bookings.com so that’s why we booked with them.
They have proper toilets and showers and clean, comfy tents. The food there was the best we had in Morocco, the cous cous tagine was exceptional and the people we met there were unforgettable. We were sad to say good-bye when the time came. The boys arranged camel trekking and a trip to Erg Chegaga which was brilliant. They also made the most amazing lunch for us in the desert camp out in Erg Chegaga. You HAVE to have a Berber omelette when your in Morocco along with Moroccan salad!
Check it out.
We got on the road the following morning with heavy hearts, we wanted to stay longer. This lil camel even crossed the road in front of us to try and stop us from leaving.
A desert camp overnight stay is a must if you are planning a trip to morocco.
Our next destination, Agadir! Another long drive. To be honest, I only wanted to visit Agadir to see paradise valley because it looked amazing in the pictures but… I wouldn’t recommend going just for that.
Agadir is was just your typical resort town. When we checked into the hotel there was no personal touch unlike the Riads, Kasbahs and camps, everyone there seemed depressed! anyway, we had our first pool afternoon and evening and drank some well deserved gins. The next morning we got up and headed for paradise valley. it was scorching hot even in the morning. We headed along the trails and across stones strategically placed on river beds to find the hidden lakes. Following donkeys carrying supplies to the cafes in the valley.
It was lovely, but packed with tourists and there was alot of rubbish, we followed the trails further and saw some more rock pools and we headed back to Agadir, we actually had to check into another hotel because the one we stayed in the night before was full and we couldn’t book a second night, I was glad because I didn’t like it there. The next hotel was lovely.
After the hike we chilled at the pool and headed to Agadir beach for sunset. The beach there is lovely.
We wandered the streets and ate dinner in a beach side restaurant, as I said before, it was like any other resort town you would see in Europe so if that’s not your thing then maybe consider skipping Agadir.. The next morning, we packed up and got on the road in the direction of Essaouira. This was our last planned journey, a few days of chilled beach and pool time before flying out.
Along the road we encountered the famous goats in argan trees, the farmer let me take a picture in exchange for a few dirhams.
We arrived into a windy Essaouira around midday. We had booked Hotel Des ILLes on bookings.com before arrival but when we got there it was very run down compared to the pictures. It was fairly crappy accommodation to be honest and I had really wanted a few pool days before flying home so it was disappointing for me in that sense. Maybe I was just spoiled because all the other places were so nice.
Anyway, we grinned and bared it and headed off to explore the town that evening.
If your wondering how windy it is there, please use the picture below as a reference! Essaouira is a popular wind surfing destination, I know that now but didn’t before (haha)
Game of thrones filming location 2
We came accross two lovely resturants in Essaouira.
La Licorne, all the artwork on the walls were painted by the owner. Both the food and atmosphere was lovely.
And Umai resturant which is where we found this delicious bottle of moroccan red wine 😍 I’m pretty sure this place was fine dinning. It was fancy AF.
We actually decided to head back to Marrakesh a day early (the day before flying home) because we got a few emails from ryanair regarding delays at the airport etc.
We hit the jackpot with the Riad we booked! and it was a great price too, Riad Shemsi. Have a look at this beaut! 😍 Initially I wanted to stay here for our first few nights but it was out of our budget so we just got lucky.
We chilled for a few hours by the riad pool, had lunch there and then headed out into the souk. Obviously I wanted to go back to Terrasse des Epices. again. (haha)
We had a few hours the next morning and we wanted to check out Ben Youssef Madrasa but it was closed for renovations.
Although it was disappointing, I got over it by going shopping, AGAIN! much to Thomas’s dismay. We headed to the airport that afternoon feeling like we wanted to hop on another flight, somewhere, anywhere but home! Morocco has changed a lot for us, it really opened our eyes and hearts to travel, we now want to travel more into the unknown!
We will definitely go back there and I would 100% recommend a visit. Don’t listen to the people who say ‘I wouldn’t go there’! We didn’t encounter any badness or negativity, only smiles and good hospitality. Obviously we had read about all the scams that can happen so if you go knowing what to expect, you won’t be fooled. If you want to ask me any questions about this ,please do.
I will be travelling to India in November so please keep an eye on my Instagram.
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