Marrakech – Entering the Fairytale
The first time i visited Marrakech I was 15. At the time my family and I were staying at a sprawling resort in Agadir, along the Atlantic coast and one day we decided to do the 3-hour road trip to see the Moroccan metropolis. I don’t remember much, other than the intense August heat that numbed all my senses. To this day those 5 hours have burnt themselves into my memory as the hottest I have ever lived.
About 5 weeks ago I met up with the people who run Robinson Club, a popular German resort chain who like Travelettes and asked whether we would be interested in testing the „Robinson Club experience“. As a die-hard adventure traveler a package-style holiday is not something I have done since my teenage days when my folks and I would tour Europe’s finest mid-range resorts. But having never had a bad time during those family vacations I was curious to find out how I would like to relive those days now that i’m 30.
A decision about time and destination was quickly made, even though the selection of options is impressive. Pool paradise in Spain, Ski fun in Austria or even palm tree eldorado in the Maldives – every option seemed better than the next. Very handy in choosing the right place for me was the dot-system that comes with each location – traveling with partner – 5 out of 5 dots, traveling alone with child 3 out of 5, group sports 5 out of 5 and so on. I knew I wanted to go someplace that was still hot in October without having to travel too far. Few minutes into my research I knew exactly what I wanted – Morocco.
Robinson Club has 2 locations in this part of the Orient – one in Agadir and another in Marrakesh.
It was 1am when our plane landed in Marrakesh. I went with Caro, my good friend and journalist who blogs about the craziness of being a first-time mom at Stadt-Land-Mama, a German-speaking Berlin blog. This was going to be her first weekend without baby so we needed this girlfriend getaway to be 2 things – fun and relaxing.
In the beginning it did not look like either of those goals would be achieved. We waited over an hour to check-in for our flight at TXL Airport just to end up having to wait out a 2 hour delay. The plane ride was a bumpy one and at one point we realised that neither of us had written down the address of the hotel we were going to stay in. Great start! Tired and exhausted we arrived at Marrakesh airport at 1am. We got our luggage, walked outside the baggage area and spotted him – the friendly driver holding up a sign saying “Robinson Club – Welcome Caro and Katja”. Thank god! We didn’t hug him but we both wanted to. From one moment to the next our holiday had begun.
It was only a 10 minute drive into town from the airport to reach the Riad Zakaria, the Hotel run by Robinson Club. As soon as we walked through the intricately ornamented iron portal we knew we had entered a whole new world. The traditional Moroccan style hotel came to us like a testimony from the middle ages, built around a stunning marble courtyard with a tiny fountain in the middle. The porter walked us to our room on the top floor, just opposite a gorgeous terrace complete with a large heavy table, various sofas with countless colorful pillows and draped curtains, overlooking a stunning palm tree panorama.
The walk through this Arabian fairytale continued as we entered our room. This was unlike any hotel room I have ever stayed in, full of ancient elegance and historic flair. The marble bathroom even looked like a mini hamman.
It was late but we treated ourselves to a last glass of wine in a small celebration to finally have arrived and to get the fun part of this weekend off the ground. Not much later the 2-hour time difference kicked in and we went to bed, excited about the next day.
We knew one day in Marrakesh was not much so we got up early, had fresh croissants and scrambled eggs for breakfast and hit he city immediately after. The moment we left the portal of our fairytale castle hotel and found ourselves in the hustle-bustle of modern Morocco, I felt a new rush of excitement and happiness run through me – this was any photographer’s wet dream. It took me hours until I managed to put the camera down for a moment. Everything was interesting! Those women with their gorgeous eyes wearing colorful caftans, the sheep herd in the open store front, the old motorbike that looks as if it had been driving to the desert and back for the past 50 years, the new born bundle of stray cats, those old men with the all-knowing faces reading the paper on cafe terraces, merchants pulling heavy wagon-loads of fruits, colorfully decorated horse carriages transporting tourists, tiny concrete alleyways, full of whispered secrets with always with a new discovery just around the corner.
There are 2 things that no one visiting Marrakech can miss. One is the Djemaa el Fna, the grand market place, one of the country’s most talked about destinations attracting Moroccans and tourists alike. Every night there are endless stalls offering the finest in street food. You simply point at something on the large buffet, take a seat and a charming waiter will dish up a feast while around you musicians, actors, clowns and fakirs go about their business entertaining the crowds – truly a spectacle transporting any visitor into the time of 1001 nights.
The second big thing on the must-do list are the Souks, the large Berber market streets full of exotic spices, hand-crafted leather goods, stunning silver jewellery, colorfully woven carpets, decorative pottery and much much more. Once you allow yourself to fall for those impossibly romantic Arabian styles it’s tough to stop shopping for them. Lampshades, candle holders, leather shoes – too affordable and definitely too tempting not to buy them. The number one rule here: haggle your heart out.
24 hours in Marrakesh were barely enough to scratch the surface of this incredible city. I loved every minute and cannot wait to go back for more. I am typing this as I am sat in a car transfer to Agadir, where the Robinson Club resort awaits us with a huge pool landscape, an endless array of sports and leisure activities and a nightly entertainment program which I particularly look forward to, especially since during my last trip to Agadir I won a belly dance competition one evening. For now I’d like to leave you with a few more impressions of the Moroccan capitol but if you care to follow us through any of our future travels, simply follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.