From the windy city to the crazy heat in Marrakesh

So here’s my final post on Morocco, we packed in quite a fair bit in our last few days so hopefully I’ll do it justice. Anyhow, so one of my highlights of the tour happened on our journey from the mountains to Essaouira, we saw some goats up some trees. This is something our guide sent us and I honestly thought it was photoshopped but nope they really can be found up the Argan tree munching away on some Argan nuts. They were the cutest things ever, especially the little baby goats, although I got a great laugh out of one very impatient goat head butting another one basically telling him to hurry up down the tree already, so funny.

Our next stop was the Argan oil co-op where we were shown all of the various steps in creating Argan oil, we even got a chance to take the outer case off with a stone and to taste the nut, very, very bitter. We got to taste some of the honey and argan oil along with some mint tea afterwards and we also got to browse the shop and see their very extensive range of argan products; soap, hand cream, face cream, body lotion, shampoo, aftershave etc. We stopped off for our first glimpse of the Atlantic Ocean and the town of Essaouira and we finally arrived late afternoon to the windy city.

We strolled towards our hotel, passing by crepe stands, seafood restaurants, colourful shops filled with rugs, leather bags and various trinkets. I immediately fell in love with Essaouira, it had a very relaxed atmosphere and it reminded me of Greece, it felt very European. We checked into our Hotel, Hotel Cap Sim, and I was up on the very top floor but it was worth lugging my backpack up the many flights of stairs because I had the most beautiful surprise, a balcony with a streetview, woohoo. Anyways I dumped my bags, freshened up and went out to browse the shops with one of the girls. I came across an absolute goldmine, the best crepe stand in Essaouira in my opinion where I had a crepe with Nutella and Bounty, (25dir) it was to die for.

So fuelled with chocolate I went and shopped my heart out, I bought a doof doof, for 230dir, (I’m pretty sure he made the name up on the spot), a square shaped drum with some unusual designs painted on it, I bought a set of tea glasses (100dir) even though I had only planned on buying two and I bought a pretty scarf (250dir). As I sat in the cutest little cafe across from the shop sipping freshly squeezed orange juice I noticed on closer inspection that the scarf had a tag that said designed in France and made in India, lesson learned. That evening we went out for dinner, I was hoping to get the pigeon pastilla but unfortunately they didn’t have it so I went for the chicken one instead but it was very sweet and looking around at everyone’s delcicious seafood dinners I had a serious case of food envy and I was kicking myself for not going for the seafood instead. Later I showed the girls the infamous crepe guy that I had been raving about and we had a couple of cocktails at a rooftop bar where we got to wear some wool ponchos, that’s how cool it was in the evenings.

I was awoken at 5 by the call to prayer, there must have been a mosque very close by and I had left my balcony doors open for the lovely breeze too. So at a more acceptable hour I went downstairs for breakfast which was delicious, we were given our own basket of bread, mint tea in our own little pot, a plate with three little dishes filled with olives, honey and butter, we also got a freshly made omelette and a pain au chocolat. Such a great breakfast. Next I went on the hunt for leather bags for my parents and I struck gold with one shopkeeper who gave me a great deal. After many trips back and forth to the hotel to send photos using the wifi I eventually bought a large leather satchel and a small tan leather handbag for 550 dir, I was delighted with my purchases and I definitely got a great deal too. I went for orange juice in the cute little cafe with two of the girls from the group and we wandered around the shops where I bought a small pair of silver (??) earrings with a really unusual design, I was officially shopped out of it, for myself anyways. I began to focus on presents and I bought small bowls, dipping bowls and salad accessories, my bag was going to burst with all the new purchases. We went for lunch at one of the seafood restaurants, I had some fried calamari, yum. Afterwards we strolled down to the harbour where there were some very vibrant nets and children jumping into the cool water. It was so picturesque down by the harbour, very pretty.

For my afternoon treat (any excuse eh?) I had some fro-yo at a lovely cafe across from the hotel. I went for the dates (which were the only ones I got to taste on the trip), almonds and caramel sauce. I thought it would be super sweet but it really wasn’t, the dates were delicious and the bitterness of the natural yoghurt balanced out the sweetness, yum. At 5 a few of us went to Spa Cocooning for the Hammam treatment (560) and it was amaaaaazing. I had warm water poured over me from top to bottom as I lay down on a bed in a sauna style room, then I was scrubbed and covered with a mud like soap and left to sweat to death, haha. Next I sat up and my hair was given a good wash and scrub, that definitely got the Sahara sand out of my hair anyways. Next we lay down in another room and drank some water and lemongrass tea. We were then brought in to get full body massages and afterwards we were wrapped like a cocoon and I just floated out of there. It was such a relaxing experience and I really enjoyed it.

Later we had some seafood pasta in a cute little restaurant lit by candlelight and we had one last crepe, I got the Nutella and Kinder Bueno one this time for 30 dir, delish. I went back to the hotel and began packing and re-packing. I eventually decided to leave my travel towels (which I never used) behind and my shoes which were pretty worn anyways. But I decided that I would need to buy a small carry on suitcase for the breakables, just to be safe.

After another delicious breakfast the next morning we left beautiful Essaouira behind, I would have happily stayed there for a few more days, there were so many little cafes (I even found a cafe serving Nespresso coffee), seafood stalls and restaurants and shops that I didn’t get a chance to see. I would definitely go back there again for sure.

After about a three hour drive we arrived in Marrakesh and checked into our hotel, Hotel Gomassine, I had a chicken sandwich for lunch and then we met our tour guide and we began our tour of Marrakesh beginning at the mosque which was very impressive. We walked through the palace which was just breathtaking and we learned that all the ceilings were so decorative because in those times people didn’t have seats, they lay down and looked up at the ceilings.

We learned how many wives the king would have and how many unofficial wives he had and we also learned that youth and weight were big factors for the wives, the younger and the fatter you were the more eligible you were.

The courtyards and gardens were spectacular, around each corner there was more and more to see and take in, it was a very impressive palace and it certainly lived up to it’s name.

Next we walked through the medina past lots of olive stands, where we learned that the olive colours stand for a different stage of ripeness; green, red and black. We also passed by loads of shops selling clothes, lanterns, leather bags, colourful bags adorned with camels, pashminas, jewellery, just so many tempting things. Out in the main open area we saw the snake charmers and the most comatose snakes I’ve ever seen, there were also plenty of henna artists too. Our guide warned us to be careful about these vendors as they could be very persuasive and sometimes didn’t take no for an answer etc. I bought a small carry on suitcase for 200dir and we sat up in a rooftop cafe drinking fizzy drinks and taking in all the madness that was the Marrakesh medina while the call to prayer was echoing in the background.

Back at the hotel I cooled down in the pool, we were back to 40 odd degree heat again, crazy hot. For dinner that evening I had some baba ganoush, which definitely didn’t look or taste like what I thought it would and I had the Turkish kebabs, it was tasty. We ventured to a rooftop bar near our hotel for a couple of cocktails and braved the club downstairs for about 10 minutes (we were feeling a tad self conscious being the only girls there) so we got some chocolate in the shop and headed back to our hotels instead.

After breakfast the following morning a few of us walked down to the gardens, Jardin Majorelle, and we strolled around inside. It was very peaceful and more importantly lovely and cool. The bamboo tree tunnel at the beginning of the gardens just set the tone for the rest of the walk. We passed by lots of palm trees and the lake was so pretty especially with all the pops of colour too.

I loved all of the different types of cacti, so many unusual shaped ones. I also spotted a poor toad/frog looking very far from his home, the pond, poor little fella. The last pic is a lovely snippet of one of many photos taken at this particular spot, so smooth, haha.

Back at the hotel I had crepes suzette for an early lunch and then a few of us decided to head back into the medina. We tried to get a taxi but they wouldn’t take four of us so the hotel suggested we get the bus for only 3 dirham into town, so off we went and hopped on the bus just like the locals. Once we saw the mosque we hopped off and walked around the medina. I bought some small colourful lanterns to put candles into and decided that was it on the shopping front…..finally. After passing by a few fruit stalls we eventually gave into temptation and bought some of the juiciest peaches I’ve ever tasted, with each bite peach juice ran down my arm, totally worth the sticky arm. I took a photo of some pretty patterned bowls for inspiration when I do my next pottery class and we got a tuk tuk back through the tiny streets to our hotel. So a day for all types of transport.

Back at the hotel we went to a little crepe cafe right beside the hotel and we got these delicious pancake cakes, I also got an Arabic coffee, which was put on top of a lit candle to keep it warm, it had a lovely cardamom flavour to it but it didn’t taste for coffee like. The pancakes were savage although very heavy so I didn’t eat too much of them. That evening we went to a hotel down the road from ours called Hotel Le Caspien where I had my last Moroccan meal. We were served warm bread with an olive tapenade dip and garlic butter on the side, unreal. I went for the chicken tagine with olives and lemons, it had been a while since I had a tagine so I thought why not sure. It had delicious roasted potatoes also, a very scrumptious dish. For dessert I had filo layered with what tasted like condensed milk or something similar in between the layers, it was miles too sweet, which is saying a lot when I’m mad for sweet things. The peach slices and cherries were yummy though.

Back at the hotel we all said our goodbyes and added each other on social media etc. It’s strange when you’ve travelled so closely and intensely with a group to suddenly go back to normality after, although I’m sure there’ll be a few reunions in other European countries and in Ireland over the next few months. I rarely need an excuse to book a flight, which is what I did as I waited to board my flight at 6 that morning, I booked flights to London for my birthday, it really is a travel addiction that I have, haha.

I really enjoyed my trip to Morocco, the people were so friendly and helpful, the food just kept blowing me away, I bought a load of Moroccan olives in a market here at home yesterday I miss them that much. I will definitely try making the chicken tagine sometime soon, especially as I have the dish thanks to my brother and my sister-in-law. I loved rolling out my rug and placing the pouf on top. I have even used the tea glasses for my freshly squeezed orange juice each morning, you’d know I was on holidays with that extra time. I have so much extra colour in my room now thanks to Morocco and a grá to go back to Essaouira in the very near future. Thank you Gadventures and to such a lovely group for making it such a great trip. Till next time shukraan Morocco, شكرا

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