So I thought I’d expand my horizons on this blog and talk about travel too. Not that I get to travel much, being a student, but I thought it might be good to write about places I’ve been for fairly low costs.
My trip to Marrakech actually cost less to book than my holiday to Zante two years previously. Zante was cheap and gross and I thought I was gonna catch a disease from the stained sheets I had to sleep on, and Marrakech was the epitome of fabulous. Zante cost around £300, and Marrkech was about £280 – flights and 4* hotel (with breakfast) included. I didn’t think this could be such a cheap holiday considering how nice it was, but it was actually really affordable!
So, first things first…
We booked on PurpleTravel.com in around March/April time, I think. And we went at the end of June, which actually coincided with Ramadan. In retrospect, I think this was for the best – it was really quiet, and everyone was super chilled. Although, if you want to go clubbing or anything, Ramadan probably isn’t the best time to go.
After speaking to some of the locals, they said the best time to go was actually around October. So maybe next time we’ll try it then, but June was great. As I mentioned before, we managed to find package deals on that website – there were quite a few, but we shopped about, and managed to get a week’s stay in a 4* hotel + flights for around £280 each which was so good. Honestly it wasn’t even that much of a hunt, we didn’t have to search long or go through any long processes.
We did have to share a suitcase though, as the flight was one bag only, but if you’re going as a couple it should be OK. To be honest I would recommend going as a couple, either with a friend or partner. It’s not really a group “going out on the town” kind of holiday, but I also wouldn’t really want to go alone. If you do go as a group, or with a friend, then it costs around £40 to book an extra suitcase.
As it’s a Muslim country, I found it hard to pack. I didn’t want to show too much flesh and offend people, but I also knew it was going to be really hot. I would say the wardrobe essentials for women are long, flowy skirts, and light, baggy blouses (I wouldn’t say full sleeve is essential, just as long as your shoulders are covered). Also baggy cotton trousers. They are a lifesaver and look really cute.
For men, you have more leeway, but I would say probably don’t wear revealing stuff like vests or shorts. To be honest, Mike did wear shorts on one of the days and it was fine, but he also wore long linen trousers that were quite light (as shown above) which is probably your best bet.
Stuff To Do
Alright, so you’ve made it here, congrats. Obviously, you’re gonna check out the main square in the city, which is the Place Jemaa el Fnaa, and that’s where it’s all going on. That’s where you’ll find the souks, and a cool café where you can look out over the square and drink Moroccan mint tea (which is gorgeous!).
The main square is also great at night – there’s people selling food and fresh orange juice, there are snakecharmers, henna artists, the whole shebang.
Another great place to go is the Yves Saint Lauren gardens. There’s a little museum you can look at and see all the Berber clothing, and a YSL gift shop. And the gardens themselves are stunning. Definitely Insta-worthy.
The Koutoubia mosque is a pretty good landmark to take a look at after seeing the main square, cos it’s right opposite. We didn’t get to go inside as there was a prayer going on and we weren’t really sure on the admissions policy but it was nice to look at it.
As for day excursions, if you go and see the people at the front desk of your hotel, they will sort you out. We stayed at the Hotel Tichka, which I would definitely recommend. The guy at the front desk sorted us out with a day trip to the Ourika valley, in the Atlas mountains.
We got in a minibus with a small group of other tourists, and stopped at a local potter’s with a huge gift shop of pottery to buy (as well as other great stuff), then when we got more into the mountains, we stopped at a pharmacy where there was all kinds of great natural stuff to buy, and you can see how the famous Moroccan argan oil is made. We then stopped for lunch, where we literally sat in a river and had a tagine, then went on a mini hike through the mountains, which was absolutely beautiful.
One of the best parts of the trip was how friendly everyone was. We hopped in a taxi outside our hotel with a guy named Rocky, who was hilarious, and he drove us to his friend Sayid’s pharmacy. Sayid gave us some free stuff as well as helping Mike choose skin products. Sayid then showed us across the street to his friend Mohammed’s shop. This shop was called Maison Bleu, and I would 100% recommend it over the souks.
The souks are in the main square and they are definitely one to visit, but actually shopping there can be tiring and you can get ripped off. Everything is all under one place in this shop, and the owner was the nicest guy ever. He invited us up for tea on his roof and we chilled up there, he made us tea even though it was Ramadan, and he gave us discounts on the stuff we wanted to buy. He even gave us a lift back to our hotel so we could get more money when we realised we wanted to buy so much stuff from him cos it was all so nice. And he chucked in some free sandals for me.
The last place I’ll recommend is one for drinking. Even though Marrakech is a Muslim country, they still sell alcohol in bars. A great place to go to is in the Bab Hotel. Take the lift up to the fifth floor, and you’ll find yourself on a rooftop bar that is so chilled and beautifully decorated. The alcohol isn’t even that expensive – not much is in Marrakech.
So there you have it, an amazing holiday and for so cheap! We got taxis everywhere we went, because each journey cost about £2. A 3 course meal for 2 people was about £20-£40 (with wine!) so you are guaranteed to have a good time and for not even that much money.
Speaking of money, you can’t change the money in the UK, so change your money at the airport when you arrive – change some of it then, and then if you need more, get some out at the hotel. Then change anything left over at the airport back to pounds when you’re about to leave (you can’t bring African currency back into the UK!).
On the whole, though, everyone is so nice. I was a little bit worried coming to a country that was really different to anywhere I’d been before, but we didn’t have any trouble at all. Everyone is just so friendly, even when it’s Ramadan and they can’t eat or drink all day. They will go to lengths to please you and be polite. Nothing is too much trouble.
Anyway, if you’ve booked a holiday there this summer, I am very jealous. You’re gonna have an amazing time!