Marrakech: to the hills, the Majorelle Gardens and buying a rug!

On the second day in Morocco my friend Liz and I decided a day trip out of the city was in order. A lovely couple from our Riad decided to join us and I imagined a trip for just the four of us. I should have realised that for 200 dirham it wouldn’t be quite that exclusive!

We were taken by taxi to a petrol station near the Koutoubia Mosque, where we joined about 15 others on a minibus.

It was a nice trip but rather cheesy. We headed into the Ourika Valley.

Ourika Valley with the Ourika River.
Ourika Valley with the Ourika River. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Our first stop was at a herb/argan oil place. Although touristy, it was genuinely interesting and I bought Amber perfume, which I love (still haven’t quite worked out what Amber actually IS though!).

Onto our next stop, which was truly cringe-worthy. A beautiful Berber man guided us round a ‘traditional Berber house’. I don’t like being shown round people’s houses when I’m not a real guest. What need do I have of gawping at someone’s bedroom or storeroom? I was glad to leave simply because I felt it was a plastic experience.

We headed up the valley to go see some waterfalls. This was huge fun, with local daytrippers as well as international visitors.

Clambering ensued, to reach a small and then a larger (just) waterfall. They weren’t spectacular but it was fun watching our guide scamper around sure-footed as a mountain goat, helping everyone from slip-sliding middle-aged women to a five-year old girl. Moroccan men showed off by leaping from rock to rock, while women with high heels or backless slip ons tip-toed up and down, much to our amazement.

I have no photos, as they died in my memory card crash. Hot and thirsty, we tripped back to the city and headed for our rooftop haunt to watch the sunset and the world going about its business.

The sun begins to set
The sun begins to set
The sun dips a little lower
The sun dips a little lower
And it's gone...
And it’s gone…

It was a touristy, fun day. I wouldn’t particularly recommend the trip we did but it’s a nice punctuation if you’re only going to be in Marrakech and want to see something else of Morocco.

Our third and final day started early-ish. The Majorelle Garden was top of my list of things to do as, along with the Ben Youssef Medersa, I had missed it last time. I had read that it’s super busy by 10 a.m. so my original plan was to be there for eight. That didn’t happen but thankfully it was still quiet when we got there at 9 am. I really would recommend being the first in, as by the time we left, it was getting busier.

You can read about the gardens here. It’s a gorgeous walled garden, filled with water features, the famous ‘majorelle’ blue at every turn and urn, and is delicious in its clever walkways and bowers.

It is also very difficult to photogrpah! Here’s my poorly attempts at capturing some of the delight.

Marrakech6 Marrakech7 Marrakech8 Marrakech9 Marrakech10 Marrakech11 Marrakech12 Marrakech13 Marrakech14 Marrakech15 Marrakech16 Marrakech17 Marrakech18 Marrakech19

We returned to the square – well, it was time for coffee and, of course, more people-watching!

Next up was some actual shopping rather than simply ‘souking’ up the atmosphere. Liz wanted a rug. I didn’t, as there is no space for any more. We headed for the carpet section and I was immediately distracted by a cute little kitten.

I don't like cats but how could I resist this little mite?
I don’t like cats but how could I resist this little mite?

Liz bought a rug and, inevitably, I did too! I have a high atlas one (traditional deep red kilim) but simply couldn’t resist the Berber colours and designs.

Marrakech23

Once you have decided to buy a rug, it’s a hugely enjoyable process. The key to it is to start with a rough budget in your head. If you can afford to spend £100, for example, don’t go crazy and spend double the amount!

Choose your shop, accept a glass of mint tea, sit back and let the show begin. As many rugs as you want to see will be arranged in front of you. Then you narrow it down to two or three. If you don’t think they’re quite right, look at more until you stumble across ‘the one’, the rug that makes your heart sing.

Marrakech22
Yassin gets out the first kilim, the one that eventually became mine by accident!

Once you have it sight, start the negotiations, keeping hold of your budget and feeling confident that hard-bargaining on both sides is all part of the fun. If you can’t get down to a price you’re comfortable with, then be prepared to walk away.

But don’t walk away too early as a tactic!

I don’t know why I thought I would come away empty-handed. As Liz bought her big rug, I salivated over another that she had rejected. Alas, it was way outside my budget so I negotiated on a smaller one instead. We were all happy!

Yassin and his Dad
Yassin and his Dad

We couldn’t leave before trying out a traditional Berber wedding cloak!

Marrakech25

More shopping and then lunch. Yes, you’ve guessed it – more people-watching.

Lunch above the spice market
Lunch above the spice market

Marrakech27 Marrakech28 Marrakech29

We wandered around and deliberately got lost. Now that we had done our essential shopping, we were happy just to discover.

Marrakech20 Marrakech30 Marrakech31

We found the dyers' souk
We found the dyers’ souk

Marrakech33

Marrakech45

By this time we needed a rest. On the way back to our Riad, I took three of my favourite photos of the weekend.

This photo makes me want to write a mystery set in medieval Marrakech
This photo makes me want to write a mystery set in medieval Marrakech

Marrakech36

Shed full of random bike parts
Shed full of random bike parts

Our pretty Riad was the perfect place for a rest.

Marrakech2

A pool you would never want to dip in!
A pool you would never want to dip in!

Marrakech4 Marrakech5

Before we knew it, it was time for our final night in the Jemaa el-Fnaa. The food from the stalls is far more interesting than what we had eaten in restaurants and I only wish I hadn’t been so chicken before!

Marrakech40 Marrakech41 Marrakech42 Marrakech43

And so the long weekend drew to a close…back home to cold old Britain!

By Carole Scott

7 thoughts on “Marrakech: to the hills, the Majorelle Gardens and buying a rug!”

  1. When I originally commented I clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get four emails with the same comment. Is there any way you can remove me from that service? Thanks!

  2. The reason you’re receiving email is because you have ticked the notify me of follow up comments via email. That means you’re subscribed to miss Carolemscott’s blog/comment to her blog posts. Now to turn that off in the email sent to you there is a option there that you can click unsubscribe me or something like that. I hope this helps.

  3. Hello! I was wondering where you would suggest going to buy a rug? Did you go outside of the city center? I am going to Marrakech in one week and definitely would like to do some rug shopping and am a little clueless. Thank you for your help!

    1. Hi Robyn, I’m so so sorry but I’ve not been into my blog for ages (I started a new job, which has drawn me away from writing and photography). For anyone else chancing on this (sorry it’s too late for you Robyn) I’d say get yourself into the souks, to the rug/carpet area (which is pretty easy to find) and just wander round a few stalls until you see something you like. Give yourself time then to do it properly – take tea, look at plenty of rugs and then negotiate..hard! It’s part of the culture and for me, the key is have a price in mind that you’re willing to go up to and do not go over it. Once you get into it, it’s such fun. Robyn, where did you go and how was it? What rug did you get? Sorry again for being absent.

Please join in the conversation by leaving a reply...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s