By Christina Rowe
Morocco is magical – full of beauty, chaos, colours, flavours and contradictions! There are mountains, cities, kasbahs and deserts. You can feel wonder to be in such a place and the next minute pure discomfort at being so far away from the things you know.
The secret is to go with the flow and don’t expect perfection, then anything can happen! In the course of a day you are sure to be lost, given incorrect information, pay too much for a taxi or something, feel hot and irritable. But can suddenly find yourself in the most unexpected situations having the experience of a lifetime and feeling complete joy. I have travelled over several parts of Morrocco including Rabat, Miske and the Atlas Mountains but my heart always swells with happiness whenever I arrive in Marrakesh. It has a little bit of everything. Vibrant souks, glamourous shopping malls, hammams, spas, luxury, budget, street market food and chic restaurants with the call to prayer sounding out over the city five times daily from nearby mosques. The central square is bustling with every imaginable activity including snake charmers and street performers and stalls piled high with spices and fruit. Make sure you pack some gorgeous shoes for cocktails at La Mamounia, and avoid buying ‘tourist’ saffron. Only three hours flight from London and you can lose yourself in an exotic city.
The thing that makes all the difference is the people you meet. After spending a luxurious week in Marrakesh earlier this year I decided out of curiosity to jump on a bus to Essaouria, staying in a simple riad near the ocean. Imagine motorbiking to Jimi Hendrix old haunts, being scrubbed and massaged in the local hammam, meandering around food markets with live chickens and being witness to the creation of a glorious home cooked tagine with ingredients just purchased (not the chicken!). One of the best days I can ever remember. All thanks to lovely people who became my unofficial tour guides – and who told me seriously that I really must spend some time in the beautiful Sahara! Inshallah I shall return to Morocco soon.