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Taste, Smell, Touch, Hear and See Marrakech

Taste, Smell, Touch, Hear and See Marrakech

The two days I spent in the High Atlas mountains gave me the serene break I needed. It was idyllic, and then I arrived in Marrakech: I can’t deny it, the first impact with the city was quite strong for me.

Marrakech is extremely noisy and chaotic: it’s the normal, everyday chaos of a north-African city but, if you’re not used to it, it’s a chaos that envelops you, that leaves you breathless, that angers you at some point, and that finally leaves you exhausted.

READ ALSO: 11 Incredible Excursions from Marrakech

But, as much as Marrakech is emotionally tiring, rather soon its chaos will seduce you.
Highly sensorial, Marrakech is intoxicating with the aroma and colours of the souks, and the myriads of faces in the streets; Marrakech is a city to narrate through the five senses.

– Hear –

The days and the nights in Morocco are marked by the muezzin chanting the call to the prayer.
Sometimes it’s a mellow and melodious chant, some others it’s harsh and more formal.
It’s enchanting to be standing in the middle of the Medina at the right time: a chant rises from a mosque, and then others from as many mosques. It’s a big outdoor concert of overlapping do and la.

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– Smell –

Drinking mint tea is an ancient and important ritual in the Moroccan culture.If you stick long enough in a shop, you’ll likely be offered a cup of mint tea. Accept it, moroccans do business in front of a steamy cup of tea. And the scent of the mint, it’s so sharp and wonderful! I brought home two bags of mint tea and days later, my room is still saturated of the warm odour of the mint.

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READ ALSO: 15 Things I Wish I Knew Before Going to Morocco by The World Pursuit

But Marrakech is not just amber and mint.
If you dare to walk towards the north-east of the Medina, you will start smelling a pungent stench, which becomes nauseating the farther you walk.

Don’t get discouraged and keep going, this the real Marrakech, the one many tourists miss by not venturing till here. It’s the stink of the tanneries, of the skins left macerating under the sun. At the entry of the tannery a local guide will give you a rosemary twig to sniff at…the musky scent of the rosemary will seem the most beautiful ever.

photo1 (7)– Taste –

It’s October, but in Marrakech it’s still 35 degrees and the just squeezed orange juice is a pleasure to drink, all in one gulp.
In Marrakech you pretty much need to haggle for everything, but oddly enough, there seems to be a fixed price for fresh orange juice: 4 dirhams, approximately 40 cents. I’ll get another one.

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Forget the dates you buy in your hometown supermarket. Here dates are gigantic, crisp and fully flavored. Buy some: dates are an important source of energy, and I assure you will need lots of energy around Marrakech.

Another good energy boost is represented by honey, and you will have lots: breakfast always includes honey, either with croissants and pancakes, and you find honey-filled pastries around the city. I love honey!

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– See-

It’s funny how you land in a city which seems surrounded by nothing but ochre soil. A stretch of desert with a city appearing in the middle of it.
Yet, in the Medina, it’s a whole different story: the souks are a profusion of colors, fabrics, counterfeited bags, stones, jewelry, food, and spices. Usually all together.
Piles of spices are miraculously arranged in perfect cones, the saturated colors, almost fake looking.

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Kids run around, and myriads of faces try and invite you to go and visit their shop. I wander around, without a real destination, and I wish I had 4 eyes to absorb all that surrounds me.

– Touch –

While the berber men come to Marrakech three days a week to work in the tanneries, the women stay home and create beautifully patterned carpets, incredibly soft and all made by hand.

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Going to a herbalist’s is another sensorial Marrakech experience you shouldn’t miss. The shelves are full of jars containing spices, teas, magic bullets and concoctions not well-defined.
You remember when you were a kid and your mom used to tell you don’t touch everything! ? Well, those days are over. The herbalist will let you(and will want you to!) try anything: argan oil, henna, amber and rose perfumes, and if you’re as lucky as I am, he will give you a back massage for you to try the magical oils.

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 What’s your most vivid sensorial memory of an African/Middle Eastern country you have visited?

The sustainable info box
It’s nice to have a beautiful place to relax after the hustle and bustle of the city, even more if it’s a sustainable hotel: I recommend staying at Quaryati Ecolodge, 17 km from the city but with a free shuttle every day. A true bloomed oasis.

For eating, I recommend the Toubkal restaurant (48 Place Jemaa El Fna): as central as it can get, but a little tucked away from the action. Good portions of moroccan food and quite cheap (about 4 euros for a plate and a soda).


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  1. Vlad

    23 October

    Marrakech has been on my list for a long time and your post and the beautiful pictures have definitely made me want to visit it sooner! šŸ™‚

    • Stef

      27 October

      Thank you Vlad! Marrakech is such an intense destination, let me know how you like it when you get to go!

      • Inubiya

        5 November

        Hi Steph, thanks for your blog I enjoyed reading. I spent 2weeks in Morocco Oudja and Fez. Oudja was much quieter and very clean, whereas Fez was really crowded but wonderful. As a vegan I found the fresh juices and vegetables a wonderful treat and there was Cafe Clock in Fez near the souk with yummy hummus, falafel and just awesome vegan treats.

  2. samiya selim

    24 October

    We are going to Morocco next month and reading your post just got me even more excited! Not to mention the heaps of useful tips and information..really nicely written, colours and pictures very strong and vivid šŸ™‚

    • Stef

      27 October

      oh Samiya you will love Morocco! I’m a little jealous indeed…if you have time, make sure you experience the Atlas mountains and the Berber culture as well, I’m writing a post about it right now šŸ˜‰

  3. […] Our adventure starts at Menara airport in Marrakech. After a turbulent negotiation for the taxi price, the car rapidly toils up dusty roads and leaves behind us the chaos of the city. […]

  4. Megsy

    1 December

    I have yet to visit Morocco, but it is high on my list. I love places that seduce you senses and being affordable is a big plus for us. Can’t wait to see it for myself.

  5. Great photos! We’re going there in a few weeks, really excited!

  6. […] bits on the blog: Taste, Smell, Touch, Hear and See Marrakech // Sailing to Brittany’s fairy tale island: explore Ile de Hoedic // Unseen Tours: […]

  7. beautiful photos! I went to morocco many years ago. hope someday to go back. visited the berber ruins (AĆÆt Benhaddou), went to the coast (could it have been three forks?) my little son rode a camel on the beach by our resort, bought mysterious spices in the marketplace in marrakesh, and i when i bounded down the steps by the marketplace, i didn’t notice the cobras! thank goodness!

  8. […] Read more: Taste, Smell Touch, Hear and See Marrakech […]

  9. Chasing Sunsets

    6 February

    Oh wow! INSPIRING! we are planning a trip to Morocco in a couple of months and would love some advice. First off, is it safe? We are just 4 girls traveling, that should be ok right?

    • Steph

      9 February

      Hi girls! I’m glad you liked the post šŸ™‚
      I traveled to Marrakech with a girl friend as well, and we never really felt in danger, but we DID get hassled a lot.
      People will constantly try and sell you something and men will stare at you and catcall…just ignore them and keep going.
      Try and get dressed quite modestly, no low neckline, no spaghetti straps, no shorts…the best would be long dresses.
      Also, you might feel more comfortable in booking a nice riad in the center of the Medina, not far from the main square, they you won’t be too far when going home at night time.
      Just keep your guts with you and you will be fine!

  10. Michele

    11 February

    We have just spent a few days in Marrakech and it was interesting reading your experiences. Beautiful photos

  11. Jessica Brown

    16 December

    I was not getting an idea to make travel trip on New year but this post gave me a great idea, of course its about Marrakech. Thanks for this idea @Steph.

    Cheers
    Jessica

  12. […] prepared to a blaze of colours, sounds, and smells in Marrakech. A trip to Marrakech is an overly-sensorial experience, and you should keep this in mind when preparing your luggage. Combine long, airy dresses – […]

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