Marrakech is a city that seems to be all over instagram. Dreamy tiles decorating the ground and lush garden oasis’ in every Riad. While that is indeed the case, there is much more to the city than that. I found myself guilty of searching for the perfect “insta photo opp” and missing out on a lot going on around me. It’s a culture that we have come to accept and I’m here to tell you to look up!
Everywhere you turn there are stalls of color, rooms full of metal lamps, and the smell of Moroccan tea. I was especially surprised by the kindness of strangers. We arrived early in the morning and immediately I wasn’t feeling well. We checked into our Riad and headed out to explore. By 5pm I was sick as a dog and went straight to bed. To my surprise, the owner of the Riad knocked on the door with some freshly brewed tea, cold medicine, and fresh bread. We met this man for maybe 5 mins and yet he took time out of his work day to take care of a complete stranger. I don’t think we have been anywhere in the world and felt that kind of kindness.
We only had a few days in the city so we decided to stay in two different Riad’s to see a bit more of the city. The Riads are a special escape from the hustle and bustle of Marrakech. Escaping the busy streets, you find yourself in a garden paradise lined with colorful tiles and authentic Moroccan decor. It wasn’t the heat of the summer by any means but I wasn’t going to miss the chance to relax in the Moroccan sun.
Many of the Riads also offer traditional spa treatments. Carson and I booked a Turkish Hammam with zero expectations. If I am being fully transparent, I wanted out of that experience as soon as it started. I’m not a huge fan of saunas and that room was SO HOT. The Hammam is an ancient Turkish traditional method of bathing, using special techniques in the warmth of the Hammam Room to cleanse and exfoliate impurities from the body. This includes an all over scrub by our a spa therapist with a kese mitt, followed by light foam massage. I’ve never in my life been so uncomfortable with stranger scrubbing me down with nothing but a tiny underwear on. It does make for a great story though 😉
As with everyplace we travel to, there are a few things that do make us uncomfortable. As tourists we usually are bombarded with people wanting us to buy from them. I took a picture of the large market square and then was asked to pay someone for the photo. So…. while Marrakech is a pretty cool city it also comes with its downsides. Just be prepared while shopping that you will be bothered (a lot) and constantly offered tea. Tea is often free (especially in your Riad) but in the market place it comes with a price. You are invited in with the idea of free tea and then expected to buy something on your way out. Don’t be rude, just be aware of your surroundings and politely decline. Be prepared to pay a small fee when taking photos of anyone’s shops or items. Another side affect of instagram… There are shops with a “set” full of Moroccan rugs, pillows, and lamps where you can pay to pose for your shot. This just feels inauthentic to me but to each their own.
In conclusion, Marrakech is a city to be experienced and not one to be scouting for your online content. It’s busy and full of life. I’m guilty here too! I get wrapped up in all those pretty doors and colorful markets but don’t forget to soak it all in. The good, the bad, and the uncomfortable!