| August 18, 2015
Hi guys! My boyfriend and I got the chance to visit beautiful Morocco for a few days in May and we enjoyed our little holiday so much. You have probably seen a few pictures coming by on Instagram; we stayed at the most amazing Riad Jaaneman, a small boutique B&B in the heart of medina. It was close to all the best souks and the main attractions as we did almost everything on foot. If your ever needed a taxi you'll find them right around the corner of the street!
I didn't feel very well on our way to Marrakech so I went straight to bed when we arrived. It was also quite late and dark so I wasn't able to catch a good glimpse of the riad itself..
.. Until the next morning when I literally woke up in a little piece of heaven. I couldn't believe my eyes! The interior was outstanding and every room was decorated differently with beautiful handpicked pieces. The palmtrees, the smell of herbs and the relaxing sounds of water streaming and birds whistling. Everything was just perfect.
We stayed in the Leale suite on the ground floor; it was very spacious with heigh ceilings plus it has it's own patio (!) with a waterfall, which was truly an unique feature. Every morning we could choose to have a delicious homemade Morrocan breakfast in our little garden but we preferred the sunny rooftop on the second floor. Since the riad has only 5 rooms, it sometimes felt like we had the whole place for our own!
There are just two things I would like to mention when considering booking this B&B;
1. The rooms can not be locked from the outside. This was really strange for us as we never experienced this before. There is a safety box in every room but it wasn't big enough to fit all our expensive stuff we brought just like our Macbooks and my camera. Nothing happend at the end but I always found myself checking if everything was complete.
2. The riad is located in an alleyway. This place is literally a hidden gem! I was with my boyfriend so there was nothing for me to worry about, but if I was travelling alone or with a girlfriend (a bunch of girlfriends like Taylor's squad will do) I probably would have peed my pants when walking to the riad at night. All though I think the area is completely safe, for all the chickens amongst us this might be something you would like to think twice about..
.. Nonetheless, our stay was absolutely amazing! It was our first time in Morocco and definitely a trip to remember. I'll make a separate post next time when writing a city guide but I didn't had that much imagery to work on so.. Keep on reading for some insiders tips from yours truly!
12 Derb Sgraghna
Dar el Bacha, 40030 Marrakech
1. Interior & Souvenir Shopping - Ok, first things first: the souks are a dream for every interior freak out here. Trust me, you will regret it so much that you didn't brought a bigger suitcase. I bought so many things that we had to book some extra luggage, which was surprisingly less expensive than I thought it would be (25 euros for 25 kg). I found my dream Beni Ourrain rug, a set of Moroccan leather poofs, plates, teapots and so many more for an amazing price! We were lucky to have our friend Nayl with us (he lives there) so we could get a lot of things for a local price, otherwise we would have probably been ripped off.. If you don't have mad negotiations skills I'd recommend you to get a guide who helps you to get the best bargain! Also, beware of taxes that you might have to pay! The rules are different in every country, so check this first at the customs to avoid unnecessary extra cost.
2. Jardin Majorelle - A.k.a the Yves Saint Laurent garden. A must see and probably high on the 'to-do list' of every tourist in Marrakech so make sure you get there in the early hours to avoid the crowd. It's like no other place you've ever seen and definitely one of my favourite spots in Marrakech.
3. Djemaa El-Fna - The square with the annoying sellers, monkeys and snakes, e v e r y w h e r e. Before you know you'll have a monkey on your shoulder or a snake around your neck. Guys, I repeat: a snake around your neck. I seriously would have fainted if that happened to me. The square was not that amazing at first sight.. But during sunset when we were in the 'safezone' on a rooftop terrace drinking our mint tea, we saw the place fill up with the famous food stalls and watched to world go by. That was truly something that I would never forget, in a positive way!
4. Tour de Morocco - Don't get stuck in Marrakech if you're visiting the country for longer than a week! There are so many other amazing places and cities to discover in Morocco like Chefchaouen , Tangier or the Sahara. A lot of companies also offer short 1-2 day trips to various places such as the Atlas Mountains or Essaouira, located at the coast and just a short 2 hour drive from Marrakech.
5. Royal Mansour Spa - The perfect Instagram worthy-place to relax and unwind from the city's hustle and bustle.
1. NoMad Cafe - Pretty well-known amongst the tourists I guess as the place was full of foreign people when we arrived there for lunch. Make sure you get a table at the front (we had this one) for a nice view over the spice market!
2. Le Jardin - We loved this restaurant! The food was excellent and the restaurant is so beautiful, the tables are surrounded by palmtrees and other exotic flora. This one was quite hard to find (even with our Moroccan friend tagging along with us) so keep your eyes open! The entrance door is very small and you would probably walk pass by it just like we did.
3. L'Attitude 31 - A fine mix between traditional and moderen Moroccan cuisine. The food presentation was a feast for the eye and their beef tangia (no, not tagine) was so good!
4. Food Stalls - There are so só many food stalls on Djemaa El-Fna that you have no idea where you should eat. We just picked the one that attracted most of the locals and the food was surprisingly good! We did had to eat with our hands though so make sure you bring along a tube of hygiene hand gel to clean it before and afterwards.
5. Palais Namaskar - If you would like to threat yourself with a little bit of luxury and a stunning view, make an quick escape from the city to Palais Namaskar, which is just an half an hour drive from medina.
1. Dress Appropriately - My knees and shoulders were always covered, except for this dress that was just a little bit above my knees. Crop tops, mini skirts, shorts and even tanks are absolutely a no-go in my opinion for both women and man. Sure, the locals are probably used to this way of 'exposure' because Marrakech is quite touristic, but as Morocco is an Islamitic country I think it's very important to respect one another's culture. I know it's tempting to wear 'less' when you're travelling during mid-high summer, but try to wear airy clothes preferably in cotton or linen.
2. Shukran, Shukran - The medina is a total maze and there's no doubt that you will get lost in it at least once. I guess it's part of the whole experience, but beware.. There's no doubt either that you will also encounter some fake guides or people who are offering to take you to places.. Not really, they just guide you the wrong way and ask for money later to show you the right way back. These people can be very persistent and the best way to get rid of them is to politely say 'no thanks' or 'shukran' = arabic for thanks (but no thanks in this case). If they're still following you - this can take up to a few minutes - just ignore them and they will eventually stop.
3. Help, I'm Offline!- Back to getting lost; Internet abroad can be very expensive, so to avoid high bills at the end of the month you can save a map of medina in Google Maps on your phone. No worries! The GPS still works when you have no internet connection so the map will be available offline. No more searching for street names on paper maps, as you probably don't even know where you are to begin with. Still lost? Ask a shop owner for help and I'm sure they'll be kind enough to show you the right way!
4. Money & Tipping - The Moroccan Dirham is a closed currency which means that they don't allow the import and export of it. The easiest way to exchange your money is directly at the Menara airport, but you can find plenty ATM's within Marrakech. Make sure to load up your pocket with small change as this might come in handy in various situations; tip the boy in the rug shop for his effort showing you all those carpets, or the person who helps you to find your way. Oh, don't forget to convert your money back when leaving the country!
5. Play Fair & Square - Negotiation is practically a formality in the Moroccan markets, so haggling is all part of the fun! Always do it with a smile and don't be afraid to say no and walk away; sometimes you'll even find the shopkeeper coming after you with a better deal. But play fair! Don't barter too hard, remember that the average wage of a Moroccan stall holder isn’t high. Aim for a good price, or better said a fair price and you can still take home a bargain at the same time.