Marrakech is an incredible place to visit. Endless mazes of souks; bright vibrant colours; the amazing smells of spices and burning oils;
magic lantern shops; flying carpet shops; snake charmers and fortune tellers, all ensure that Marrakech is a sensory overload for any visitor. I loved it.
Marrakech is split into two parts: an old town at the centre (think winding passageways, souks and donkeys) and a modern town on the outside (big hotels, business plazas and fast cars). To make sure we truly experienced the place, we chose to stay in the old town, in a traditional ‘Riad’, staying at the incredible Riad Dixneuf La Ksour, which I could not recommend enough. This place is an oasis.
We spent our first few days here exploring the old town and, like typical tourists, were royally ripped off. A word of warning: you will be invited into an endless amount of ‘apothecaries’, which sell oils and powders for every ailment. Once inside, you will be given samples of lots of beautiful smelling things: amber, frankincense, rose water etc, and told how they will transform your life. Excited, we naturally bought everything. However, once we got home, we realised the sample they showed us and the actual items we took home were very different. I have no idea what they were. I tried to burn the frankincense and it smelt like burning petrol. I rubbed the ‘amber’ perfume on my neck and got a really great rash. Oh.
Whilst in Marrakech, I would definitely recommend taking a few trips out. For a small amount of money, we took a car to amazing places such as Aït Benhaddou (a town built into a red, sandy hillside); we saw the Kazbah where Churchill used to spend nights being seduced by exotic Moroccan dancers; and visited the Atlas mountains and froze to death. The landscape in Morocco is breathtaking and worth experiencing.
On our last day, in Marrakech, however, everything went drastically wrong. We were on a trip to the mountains and stopped off by a small restaurant by the side of the road. Once there, we were shown to our table where, surprisingly, food was ready and waiting. I am not sure how long that food had been there, but I noticed a lot of flies on mine. However being British and overly-polite, I decided to gently waft the flies away and eat it. It seemed to be an egg-based and it tasted ‘strange’. Right then, I knew I was going down. A few hours later, on a dark, rainy taxi ride back down the Atlas mountains, I began to sweat. My stomach began to make some very disturbing noises. The taxi driver declared I was hungry and kindly gave me half a chocolate bar. I forced it down and held back the retches. By the next day and our flight home, I knew something was definitely wrong. To cut a long story short, I had salmonella – salmonella that lasted nearly three months and included highlights such as: 9 visits to the doctor, 3 trips to the hospital, drinking 2 litres of laxative and one procedure I am still not ready to talk about.
I loved Marrakech and would recommend it to anyone. But sometimes one singular experience travelling seems to taint a place and unfortunately for me, I shall ever equate beautiful Morocco with a bad egg and the time my digestive tract took me on an adventure I will never forget.