North central Morocco was where we have been based for the last few days touring the medieval city of Fez and nearby Chefchaouen, Meknes and Volubilis and we were mesmerized by each city’s unique character. To cap our Moroccan holiday, our last destination and our point of exit would be Marrakesh. We hired the same travel guide that took us around north central Morocco for our road trip to Marrakesh stopping for a night in steamy Casablanca. If Chefchaouen evokes the shade of blue, if Fez sparkles gold and if Casablanca emits its polluted gray, Marrakesh surely explodes brightly in red.
We entered Marrakesh on a stunningly sunny day and we immediately understood why it is called the “Red City”. Almost every building we saw were built using the signature red bricks.
Be it government or private buildings………
…..the red bricks were a construction staple.
It was red all over.
Okay, I am exaggerating. Probably except for the Royal Theater pictured here and a few other buildings, everything we saw were made of red bricks.
THE MOGADOR PALACE AGDAL
With so many excellent choices of hotels and riads in Marrakesh, from the ultra opulent to the less swanky, the Mogador Palace Agdal was our choice as base. It is a very affordable yet a seemingly palatial choice. This hotel is located in the center of the new tourist zone, and faces the Atlas Mountains, the ancient wall of the Royal Palace and Marrakesh’s Gardens of Agdal.
One of the reasons we booked this hotel was its elaborately-decorated and exquisite lobby where we were welcomed with Moroccan tea and sweets. [photo of the lobby courtesy of hotel]
Considering the vast layout of the hotel comprising of 750 rooms spread out in a sprawling complex, we found it quite a long but interesting walk from the lobby to our room passing through intricately-designed hallways.
Another reason we chose this hotel was its stunning pool views. We liked best the hotel room balcony overlooking the pool.
Yes, we had this amazing view from our room!
We spent some time in and around the pool.
My wife and I were actually 32 weeks pregnant so in a way our activities in Morocco were quite limited. In Marrakesh, our last leg of the tour, we were already content taking our selfie in this magnificent hotel by wrapping my DSRL’s strap around a palm tree and voila, we had our first wedding anniversary memoir. I stopped carrying my heavy professional camera stand a few years back.
Here are more photos at the pool side.
Myself at the amazing poolside.
Another shot of myself at the amazing poolside.
Relaxing at the hotel pool side feasting on some local food is one of the more relaxing activities we had in the red city.
JEMAA EL FNAA, THE MAIN SQUARE
One of the best things to do in Marrakesh is to experience the frenzy at its main square, Jemaa El Fnaa, from sunset to late. You can still visit it during the day and there would be restaurants and other establishments that would be open but the square would be mostly empty.
We arrived at the square less than an hour before sunset and the crowd was starting to fill in the huge square.
We thought this would be an experience like we never had before.
The Marrakesh International Film Festival was also ongoing and some activities in the square were related to the festival.
We took selfies at the square while we waited for the sunset.
As we watched one of the shows pictured, there would be someone who would go around with the tip box who would easily spot visitors and acknowledge their presence and then nicely but persistently ask for tips in return.
Games abound and so do musical performances and acrobatics!
As the sun had set for the day, the fruit stands and food kiosks started to entice both locals and visitors.
When we left the square, it was really filled with a crazy combination of locals and tourists. Many are saying that Jemaa El Fnaa is the happiest place in Morocco!
OTHER THINGS TO DO
Other activities that are interesting to do in Marrakesh are camel trekking at the city’s palm grove or…….
….visiting the newest mall in the area, Menara Mall, to rub shoulders with mostly locals which we did on our last day in Marrakesh or…….
…..checking out if you know someone who is visiting the city too! Through Facebook we learned that a friend from Portugal whom I previously met in the Philippines as we traveled to Palawan was staying just next to our hotel and we visited her and her boyfriend from Ireland. The world is indeed small.
Surely, our stay in Marrakesh was limited and we would have loved to venture further to Essaouira too or come back again when the Atlas Mountains would be capped by snow. As our Norwegian flight took off to bring us back to Oslo, we looked down and saw the red city (yes, fiery red) for one last time. We promised we would be back in a different time and in a different season.