Today’s guest post comes from travel blogger Kelly Ella Maz who recently explored the city of Marrakech, finding surprises around every corner and behind every door.
One of the things I love most about Marrakech is the balance between the luxurious modern amenities and the traditional experiences. I’d list Marrakech as one of the most exotic places I’ve visited, a place I couldn’t forget even if I tried. The smells, sounds and colors are all unique to this Moroccan city.
When we arrived in Marrakech late at night, it was sensory overload! Our driver picked us up from the airport and took us on a short drive to Riad Viva, a traditional Moroccan hotel. The other cars flew past us, making it pretty clear that traffic laws were nonexistent here. Eventually our car came to a stop, but when I looked around I didn’t see anything that looked like a hotel. All I saw was a man standing with a wooden wheel barrel, who then proceeded to take our luggage out of the car. The roads are so narrow we had to walk to rest of the way! This man led us through a maze of tiny alleyways until we finally came to a tall door with a beautiful lamp hanging above it.
At this point I was a little freaked out and wondering, “Where the hell are we?” As soon as the man opened the door to the riad my jaw dropped. Behind this seemingly rustic door was a palace. The courtyard had a beautiful fountain made out of mosaic tiles, and every door was decorated with handcrafted archways. We were taken to our room, which was equally as breathtaking.
It was hard to believe we we’re in such an incredibly luxurious hotel when just a few minutes ago we were walking down a dark dusty alley. This was a reoccurring theme for the rest of our time in Marrakech. It was always a mystery what you would find behind a door, or around a corner, making our time in Morocco feel like a true adventure.
Probably the biggest highlight of our trip was shopping in The Marrakech Souk, the largest Berber market in all of Morocco. My eyes lit up as soon as I saw all the beautiful fabrics, silver and spices for sale. We spent the better part of 5 hours getting lost in the Souk. One wrong turn and you hit a dead end, another turn and you reached an entire section you didn’t know existed. Bartering the price was fun, but a different experience for me. We were told you should offer one-fifth of the price they originally tell you, and you should end up paying around two-fifths.
Just outside of the Souk is the famous Jemaa el-Fnaa in Marrakesh’s medina quarter. Snake charmers, shops and about 50 carts selling orange juice can be found here. At night, food vendors set up shop where you can sample all kinds of local foods at rock-bottom prices. Being such a busy square it’s hard to know what to expect. Steer clear of the ladies trying to paint henna on your hands, and look out for the “dentist” sitting at a table covered in piles of teeth.
After an exciting day of experiencing the more traditional side of Marrakech, we headed to the amazing nightclubs. World-renowned club chains like Pacha and Nikki Beach all have locations in this North African country. Getting dressed up, having some drinks, and dancing the night away felt very refreshing after being covered up in the predominately Muslim country all day.
With luxury hotels and a thriving nightlife in this exotic location, its no wonder Marrakech is a popular travel destination for the rich and famous. I have only the best memories of this Moroccan city, and I can’t wait to return to discover what else Marrakech has to offer.
Kelly Ella Maz is a travel writer from Canada. Her passion for travel and worldwide experience led her to starting her own travel planning business and blog. She recently bought a one-way ticket to Barcelona, where she’ll be living by the beach and traveling around Spain. You can follow her travels at www.kellyellamaz.com.