During my year abroad, my term dates were a little different – last year, I had almost all of February, March, and April with no university commitments. Surrounded by grey clouds, me and three friends took this opportunity to escape European weather and head somewhere entirely new: Marrakesh, Morocco.
Somewhat unsurprisingly, our holiday began in London Gatwick’s Wetherspoons at 3am. Whilst the cheap, 6:30 flight was a good idea in theory, we were perhaps a bit less excited than imagined as we picked at our cooked breakfasts with our eyes closed. However, after boarding the flight and sleeping almost instantly, the mood picked up once we landed in Marrakesh.
There really is no feeling like that punch of hot air when you step off the plane, and for the first time in months, I felt like Vitamin D was being absorbed into my system. The riad we were staying in had a housekeeper, and she gave us a quick tour before letting us know she’d come back in the morning to make breakfast. If you’re thinking about a trip to Marrakesh, I would recommend the AirBnB’s that note they have a housekeeper you can stay in contact with them – it helps if you need any advice with airport transfers or tourist destinations!
The riad we were in was beautiful. You could step out on half the roof to dip in the pool and take in a breath-taking view of the city, whilst the other half was a hole that allowed the sun to stream through over the open-plan dining room. Decorated with intricately detailed tiles and ornaments, none of us could quite believe this was our home for the week.
Ecstatic with our accommodation, we went to explore the town. To this day, I think the red brick of the city is one of its most attractive features. Everywhere you turn, buildings made from this burnt, smooth stone sit next to each other. The markets can be a little hectic, but if you take your time, you can find some gems of jewellery, artwork, and crockery. I bought a mug the size of my head, but still wish I bought this one painting…
The food in Marrakesh was delicious, but one restaurant definitely took the top spot. Cafe Restaurant Dar L’hssira was only around the corner from where we were staying, and it never disappointed. We tried a variety of different meals, such as tagine, falafel, and briouates, before finishing off with a fruit smoothie from the markets in the Jemaa El-Fnaa.
Marrakesh isn’t short of tourist destinations too. The Bahia Palace was beautiful – we practically spent all day taking pictures there, looking at the incredible interior and sunbathing in its old spa. And the Yves Saint Laurent museum is equally as dazzling, most notably the inescapable, vibrant blue features as you stroll around the gardens.
We ended our trip with an excursion to Imlil, a small village in the Atlas Mountains. On AirBnB, we found a family-run business who conduct these trips. Our guide, Ibrahim, spoke to us about Berber culture and life in Imlil before we departed for a hike. The route was stunning – we were surrounded by vibrant moss and clear, running streams before finishing at a dazzling waterfall. This day surrounded by nature was my favourite. Whilst the city had its own attractive qualities, I find the feeling of bliss when amongst the mountains incomparable.
I would recommend Marrakesh in a heartbeat, but after spending that day in the mountains, I do wish I could have seen more of Morocco. However, I know this just means I’m excited to return, and would tell anyone that if they are craving an escape from the new-year clouds, this is the country to look to.
Featured Image by: Amy Gaffney