I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but at my work I get to write about all these crazy travel experiences that we organise for our clients, and some of them are AMAZING. I love getting to write about it all, but it also just makes me really jealous.
Our big publicity trip at the moment is this weekend away in Morocco where participants get to climb the Atlas Mountains with Bear Grylls (of ‘Man vs. Wild’ fame). No big deal. Leave the office on Thursday, come back on Monday…. “So McPhee, what did you do this weekend?” “Oh, I climbed this mountain with Bear, it was fun I suppose.” “Bear who?” “Bear Grylls, I think he has a television show or something… I don’t know.” Unreal. Of course, it costs around £6,000 but you are spending the weekend at a lux hotel called Tigmi and there’s the whole climbing a mountain with a (rather attractive if you ask me…but you didn’t…) celebrity. Check it out here.
I’ve been to Morocco before, just for a few days in Marrakech and it was fantastic. If you are in Marrakech for a short break, there are few things not to be missed.
The Majorelle garden is a colourful, peaceful place to relax. The green plant life and bright blue paint separates this space from the red-walled city outside. The colours are really vibrant; I really felt like I wasn’t in Marrakech anymore. All the hectic bustle outside completely fades away, it was a nice break after a day at the markets.
Inside the city walls is the medina. This ancient town is a labyrinth of alleys. In the souks – the old market, stalls sell goods like handmade leather items and beautiful jewelry, and you can see vibrantly coloured pyramids of spices. Behind corners, family run medicine stores sell natural herbal remedies to cure any ailment. I bought a cream for my mother’s eczema and apparently it worked miracles.
If you are shopping in the souks, don’t be afraid to haggle; sometimes the best way to get a bargain is to walk away and watch the salesmen run after you! I got really into the haggling…my Scottish family has taught me how to get a good deal. I bought these two leather suitcases for my friends who were there with me. I think I paid less than half the original price for one…and got two. I also got an awesome handmade leather belt that I love plus way too much other stuff.
In the evening, after you hear the call to prayer from the Koutoubia Mosque, head to Djemaa el Fna. After sunset, the square fills with the steam of cooking food made by the best chefs in Marrakech, according to themselves… Grab some supper and see the snake charmers, musicians and storytellers; it can all feel like something out of Arabian Nights. Me and the girls were worried about going on our own with no men around; we were a little overwhelmed sometimes with how aggressive the local men could be, but then we met a few young German guys at our hotel so we all went together. It was amazing, and I am so happy I didn’t miss out on it. At the beginning of the year, the NY Times did an article about the food in Marrakech focusing on the Djemaa el Fna. It’s worth a read and is already making me hungry. May be appropriate that I had cous cous for lunch today…
If exploring ancient ruins is your thing, then visit the remains of El-Badi Palace. Once covered in gold and marble, the walls are now bare and crumbling. But you can climb to the top of the walls to get amazing views over the city, or crawl underneath into the labyrinth prison where the king kept his prisoners. Just don’t get lost…