Wanderlust

The Marrakech Express

I recently took a trip to Marrakech for a long weekend with some female friends and ended up completely falling in love with the crazy city that it is. I’m pretty well travelled, but this was unlike any place I’d been to before. A city of complete contrasts that assaults every one of your senses..and I highly recommend going!

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If you are looking to take a trip there, here are my top five must do’s for Marrakech:-

1. Get a Hamman.

If you like your beauty treatments, it’s definitely worth giving this one a go. A weekly tradition for the locals, it basically involves scrubbing a layer of skin off. This was the first thing I did once I’d checked into my riad to try and relax after the plane journey and queuing in Customs (be warned, this part takes forever!). If you want to go fully local, you need to head to one of the public baths, but I wasn’t quite brave enough and went to the spa around the corner that was affiliated with our riad.

Now, I’ve had my share of strange beauty treatments in the past, but this was something else. As I stood in bikini bottoms in a small, marble room with just candles for lighting, my experience went something like this…

  • Strip down to only bikini bottoms in a darkened room.
  • Lady uses shower to wash you all over.
  • Lady rubs some scented stuff over all visible skin (lots of cupping involved).
  • Lady leaves you to lie down and “relax” for ten minutes. Feels a lot longer and you start to wonder if she’s forgotten about you.
  • Lady finally comes back and proceeds to scrub harshly at all visible skin, actually removing a layer of skin.
  • Rinses the dead skin off you then randomly washes your hair.
  • Leaves you soaking your feet in a tub of water and rose petals. Get the same feeling as Stage 4 after a while.
  • Lady lets you out and you sit down in a comfy chair while drinking mint tea and someone massages your feet.
  • Go for full body massage – relatively normal experience.

But the Hamman and a full body massage ended up costing me about £30 and my skin was super-soft, so I really cannot complain about the process at all!

2. Get lost in the souks.

If you’re going to the souks, be warned that once you’re in, you have to keep going until you get out the other side. And while you’re working your way down the many allies, trying not to get lost, be prepared to get accosted by practically every shop owner on the way…or just random people in the street trying to get you to go to another part of the souk where a member of their family probably has a shop.

But it’s not half as daunting as it sounds. In fact, it’s actually quite a fun experience and you’ll probably come out the other side with a few trinkets you didn’t plan on buying. The best way to go about it is in the traditional Moroccan way – just go with the flow.

When it comes to making a purchase, shopkeepers can be, er, a little enthusiastic in trying to make a sale. Just remain polite and if you don’t want something, be prepared for them not to give up too easily, but it’s all very good natured. If you do want something, be prepared to haggle. To help me with this, I took a conversion sheet I’d thrown together myself, so I didn’t have to do any on-the-spot conversion of currencies. 100 dirham sounds like a lot but then you remember it’s only a couple of quid!

If you’re a tourist, the shopkeepers will probably start at a ridiculous price. Immediately, drop that price by at least a third and work from there. It’s not a concept we’re used to, but it is actually a lot of fun and the shopkeepers quite like getting involved with some tough haggling.

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3. Visit the Jardin de Majorelle

As you’re wandering around the Majorelle Gardens (once owned by Yves Saint Laurent) you actually forget where you are. Away from the dusty roads and frantic driving of Marrakech, the gardens are a source of tranquillity. Inside its walls, you can happily while away an hour or so just looking at the calming pools, mass of blues and yellows or the impressive nature.

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4. Take a Trip to Café Clock

Tucked down a side street and then through some rubble, Café Clock is hidden out the way but is definitely worth trying to find. The food was amazing and they always seem to have something on. Less touristy, it’s popular with the locals – it seemed to be where the Moroccan Hipsters hung out.

Check out their website to see what entertainment they have on or book one of their special experiences – http://marrakech.cafeclock.com/

I also have to recommend trying their chocolate milkshake!

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5. Go on a camel trek

Ok, so this one might not be entirely animal welfare friendly and I still have a little bit of residual guilt for enjoying it so much, but it really was a nice experience. Taken to the outskirts of the city, amongst the palm trees, we were led around on camels for over an hour. What made our trek just that little better were the baby camels that followed us the whole way round. It was officially declared that day that there was nothing more adorable than a baby camel running!

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The Twenties Limbo

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I recently turned twenty-five (a whole quarter of a century!) and now I feel like I’m stuck in a weird tug-of-war over whether I want to become a proper grown up or still try to hold onto my youth.

If forty is the new thirty, and thirty is the new twenty, does that make your twenties are the new teen years? With life expectancy growing like it is and being a relatively healthy person, I may live to be one-hundred so technically I’m only a quarter of the way through my life. There’s still loads of time for me to become a proper grown up!

A couple of months ago, I moved back home and it hasn’t been as bad as I thought it would be. The extra money is definitely helping. And after I worked out how much money I’d spent on renting, I am now convinced I won’t be doing that again. Once you add it all up, it is a lot of money.

So, back to my tug-of-war.

I have now reached a crossroads and am trying to work out which path to walk down. On one side, I can follow the sensible route and do some serious saving to buy a house. Plus I didn’t want to leave it too late in life to get married and have children. I’m already doing the thing where, when I meet an attractive man, I immediately zone in on his left hand to see if there’s a ring, gaging if he’s a possible husband candidate. When I spend time with my friends’ adorable children, I immediately start to feel broody.

The other path is the less serious one. Do I quit the day-job, take a year or two out and just basically become a bit of a nomad? There are still so many places I want to visit and it makes sense to do it while I have no real ties or responsibilities.

As I write this, I’m still not 100% sure, but 93.7ish% is veering into one direction. For a lot of my early twenties, I played it safe. I took the sensible job that paid decently, even though I didn’t particularly enjoy it. I made practical decisions, did what was expected of me, tried to plan life out and generally took no chances.

Now it’s time to be reckless.

One thing I’ve learned is that you can’t plan life. It took almost twenty-five years to work that out but now I realise how true it is. It’s time to ignore the needs of everyone else and be a bit more selfish. It’s time to stop thinking about what might happen in a few years time and start thinking about what is going to happen tomorrow.

So I guess the important question from all of this is, where to first?

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