Back in September I was talking to my mate Georgia who told me she was planning a holiday to Morocco. The dates just happened to fall in my November college break so I invited myself to gate crash the second half of her trip.
We decided to book this wonderful riad through Airbnb. Petit Shariq can organise an airport transfer for €20 for 4 people. As the riad is in the middle of the medina, the car dropped us off as near as possible, then a guide took us the rest of the way. Luckily, Georgia has an amazing sense of direction, because I had no idea where we were after the second turn.
We were met by the owners Paolo and Cristina, and the riad housekeeper Raja. They explained the riad and rules and gave us restaurant recommendations.
The first afternoon we explored the riad and enjoyed the dipping pool before venturing out and finding dinner.
I had translation cards printed out in both French and Arabic from celiactravel.com, which were really helpful. I didn’t get ill once!
The first night we walked past a few restaurants on our side of the medina and decided on Soul Food. Georgia had been living off tagines the previous week so she ordered something from the ‘European menu’ and I went for a meat and apricot tagine. Of course, I treated myself to a starter (quinoa salad) and a dessert (crème brulee) as well. Unfortunately, the tagine wasn’t the greatest, being a bit dry and bland. The starter and dessert were great though!
The Sunday we decided to explore the medina and made a new friend Julie who accompanied us on our mission to find the Bahia Palace. Google took us the long way round and I’m pretty sure we circumnavigated the whole thing before finding the entrance. Did get my steps up though!
We also found the main square, which was huge. There I was just minding my own business, walking through the square, when Julie pointed out the scary ass dancing snakes! Gave them a wide berth.
The craftmanship of the palace is amazing, full of fancy mosaics, but it was definitely weird to view it as someone’s place of residence. Probably because the palace is devoid of any furniture.
On our last day in Marrakech, Georgia and I asked our lovely housekeeper Raja to take us to the local hammam. The owners did recommend a fancy hammam to us, but after looking it up, it definitely looked like a tourist trap and we were after the Real Deal.
After hitting up the local market to get some special hammam soap and a scrub mitt each, we went to to the local hammam. I would love to tell you which one we went to, but I am notoriously bad at getting lost in souks, so I recommend just booking to stay at La Petit Shariq (it is in the northern part of the medina).
There were two entrances – one for men and one for women – and in between is a little window where you buy your ticket. It cost us around £11 each and the mitt and soap was under £3. We were told to strip down to our undies and followed a local lady into the depths of the hammam. She didn’t speak any English, but Georgia is currently learning French so we were able to make very short conversation. The other ladies present seemed amused to see to white girls in their midst. The whole process took around 3 hours.
It was an amazing experience, and for the price, my only regret is just not going everyday while we were in the city.
Monday afternoon saw us in a hired car (Monday to Saturday cost us €200) on our way to the mountain town of Imlil. We stayed at the Riad Atlas Toubkal. There was a bit of a trek from the road to the hostel but once we were there we were offered a choice of rooms. The room was huge! But it was also very cold (it was November!) so we had to use every blanket we could find.
The hostel had a lovely rooftop terrace where we went for our daily Moroccan tea. We also opted to have dinner in the hotel, a 3 course meal for £8 (MAD99).
That night we walked through town and made some friends with the locals. I was also on the hunt for a basic knife to cut some cheese up and managed to get given one! Score!
In the morning we had a nice long lie in (sorry for not waking you Georgia, you looked so peaceful!) before putting our bags in the boot so Georgia could then proceed to try and kill me. Just want to take this moment to point out how much FITTER Georgia is than me. She had found a hike to do, so like a person who knows they aren’t fit but wants to try, I proceeded to follow her up the mountain. Did I throw up? Maybe. But the view from the top was pretty epic. We ended up walking 5km from Imlil to Aitsouka.
From Imlil, we did the 4 hour car drive to our next destination – Essaouira. Everybody told us how amazing the coastal city was, but to be honest I didn’t really go much on it.
After finding a car park – you are not recommended to park on the street, but there are garages for a small fee to use – we took a while to find our riad. It was not well signposted, but once we got there, we had a lovely, warm welcome from Fatima. She made the best tea! We had a lot of it.
We wandered around looking for somewhere for dinner and decided on Dar Baba. It’s a lot harder finding food for me – mainly because we needed to find a place that offered something gluten free. Oh how I miss just getting something quick and cheap off the street vendors!
There were a few options from this tapas place, all of which were delicious!
The main reason we chose to go to Essaouira was to go kite surfing. I’ve been before in Greece and Georgia had done a surf camp in the summer in Spain. Morocco is a whole other level! I’m still very basic (plus haven’t been near a kite since 2019) so I did a couple of hours of basic instruction and body surfing and Georgia gave it a go getting up on the board. We had a fun afternoon and the instructors at …. were amazing.
From Essaouira we thought we would treat ourselves to a lovely stay at the Radisson Blu Surf Village in Taghazout. We stayed in and ate at the restaurant on site then hit the outside bar and watched the World Cup.
After Taghazout, we moved to our last stop of Agadir, which was where we were both flying home from. Agadir was not the most attractive of towns but we went up to the main drag and had a delicious dinner at Roastery.
The next morning it was time to say goodbye as Georgia was on her way back to France and I headed back to Glasgow.
Marrakesh Riad £321.95 (£160.97pp)
Imlil hostel £31.34 (£15.67pp)
Essaouira b&b £73.68 (£36.84pp)
kite surfing €100 (£90p)
Agadir hotel £56 (£28.00pp)
Taghazout accommodation £116.22 (£58.11pp)
airport transfer €20 – £18 (£9.00pp)
car hire €200 – £177 (£88.50pp)
fuel £33 – (£16.50pp)
Food – not too sure but no more than £150
approximate spend = £900 for the week