A Magical Afternoon in Marrakech Medina
Morocco, and Marrakech in particular has been on my travel bucket list for as long as I can remember and last week, I was finally able to visit. Whilst I was excited to see the inside of the beautiful riads and eat as much of the delicious food as I could, the one place that I have dreamed of visiting was Jemaa el-Fna and the souks.
As we left our hotel (we were staying at Movenpick Mansour Eddhabi) and drove closer, the big roads began to get narrower and narrower until we were driving in and out of side roads and alleys full of little hole in the wall shops.
We were dropped off just outside the entrance to the souks and paired up with a guide. Our guy was called Sami and he was super chilled. Walking ahead, he easily navigated us through the maze of stalls as we all trailed behind; stopping in amazement as we peered into each stall. He stopped every so often to let us catch up although we were all cautious to keep an eye on him because if we got lost in there we'd never get ourselves out.
The whole market had a very Arabian nights feel to it. Each street was different whether it was intricate lanterns and men melting metal in their shops, mounds of spice piled up high or leather slippers hanging down from the ceiling. You smell those before you saw them! The market is an experience for all of your senses; if you aren't marveling at all of the color, then you are jumping out of the way of a motorbike or trying to ignore the men shouting across for you to come into their shops. It's a very overwhelming experience, but it was absolutely incredible as well!
As the market opened out, we finished the souks at a spice stall with all sorts of fragrant, colourful powders piled high. We stopped to look and the man at the stall started mixing up potions and passing around samples for us to smell. We left with a bar of soap and a bag of eucalyptus crystals.
The end of the Medina brought us out to the most famous mosque in Marrakech just as the sun was starting to set. It was one of those moments; watching the sun set over the Koutoubia as we listened to the men inside praying on the loud speaker over the busy streets of Marrakech, that I will remember forever.
Dinner later on was a feast of traditional Moroccan food at La Salama. Through a hidden door and up the dark staircase on a red carpet lined with tea light candles, we sat down for tagines with cous cous as belly dancers weaved around us just like the motorbikes before, with trays full of candles on their heads (the style of dance is called Raks al shamadan). After the meal we all got up to join in before heading up to their roof terrace for dessert over looking the square. It was the perfect end to a truly magical day.