This trip was by far my most daring.  I initially, wanted to go just for a break from the cold weather as I’ve been looking for a great winter escape for years so this was perfect, but decided to make a bit more of it and visit two completely different parts of the country, beach and city.  So here is a run down of my almost perfect time in the land of mystery, magic and mayhem.

FLIGHTS

As some of you know by now I used my favourite app/website Skyscanner.com to book my flights and I booked them at least 3 months in advance which will save you a lot of money if you’re looking for a bargain flight.  I was flying with Royal Air Maroc and this was all fine until my flight from London to Marrakesh was cancelled, great!!  I could re-book for free but this time there were no direct flights to Marrakesh and I had to go via Casablanca, spend a night in a hotel that probably has no reviews ever as it was just beyond basic and then fly to Marrakesh very early in the morning.

Some of you may know I’m not a morning person so this wasn’t the best option for me but I had no choice but to take it.  The flight went fine and was a quick 40 minutes or so, giving me enough time to perk up and start looking forward to my trip.  I eventually arrived at Marrakesh Menara airport and everything was going swell until we got to customs control.  We were all required to fill out declaration forms on the flight which I did and so did everyone else.  There was an opportunity to fill them out at the airport but I was already prepared.  Finally got to the customs desk and was asked for my passport.  The officer took my passport and asked if I was from another country other than that stated in my passport to which I replied “No”.  He then asked if I had filled out a declaration form which I handed over, it was then ripped up and I was asked to fill in another form.  At this point I was confused and as I was walking away to get the form, another officer told me everything was fine and I should just go back to the desk. I got back and was questioned for about 20 minutes about my nationality and then released to go through, I was the last one to go through from my flight.  I’m not sure why I was singled out but I must say, it wasn’t a pleasant start to my trip.  The same thing happened on my flight home and at this point I was just tired of it all!!  Only consolation was that my flight home wasn’t cancelled or delayed so that just made me feel a little better.

ESSAOUIRA

I finally made it out into the airport arrival lounge and was in search of a car hire company desk, I found one which unfortunately was closed so I asked the guy at the information desk to help me and finally the positive experiences started coming in.  He gave me the number of a  man that runs his own car hire service and it was the best decision I could’ve made, he had everything from the latest Range Rover (Velar, Evoque, Vogue, Sport) to the littlest of pint sized cars for one.  Chafiq absolutely saved my day and if anyone would like his contact details, feel free to email me thelivingcherub@gmail.com

I hired a little KIA PICANTO for my road trip and it was absoloutely great until I had to get to the farm-house that was in the middle of nowhere!! I arrived around 6pm and the road was rocky as hell.  You definitely need a 4×4, Land Rover Defender would’ve been the perfect car for this trip if you ever visit this place, trust me when I say this.

This house was so gorgeous and more than I could’ve imagined, so thankful to my good friend Renaud for helping with booking this place. The serenity and peace were exactly what I needed as I find Christmas and New Year quite a stressful time of year, I almost could do with not celebrating it at all.

 

Anyway, I was greeted by Halim who looks after the farm when the owners are away and he lives in another house on the land near the property, so everything you need is absolutely catered for 24/7. It has about 6-8 other rooms which can be booked individually or if you choose to book it as group that’s also possible and you can have the whole place to yourselves and enjoy it to the fullest, perfect for yoga workshops or one hell of a party!!

Unfortunately the pool wasn’t working and would’ve been ideal for the nearly 40 degree weather. There’s a fully equipped kitchen, ensuite shower in every room, huge dining and lounge area, outdoor patio and sun terrace to top up your tan or watch the magical sunset every evening.

It was about a 20 minute drive from the farm-house to the beach and getting to the main supermarket was about the same time. The beach was as beautiful as the pictures I had seen online, just stunning!! Definitely a surfers paradise and it was nice to have some warm sand between my toes at that time of year. I was approached by several of the guys asking me to take camel rides on the beach but I am totally against using animals for human entertainment in any form.  I know it’s an income for them but perhaps teach me how to surf instead and let the animals live a delightful life in the wild.  So I politely said no to Mohammed (pictured below) and explained to him why I was against it. He understood and asked to just have a picture of him and his camel taken. Now that, I said yes to.

There was  no WiFi at the farm so I was able to fully turn my social media off and only communicated with my family from time to time via text if I went to a restaurant at the gorgeous esplanade or turned my data on briefly.  I loved this as I was able to really enjoy my own company which I’m getting way too comfortable with now.

Anyway,  I spent many blissful days in Essaouira, and it’s definitely one part of Morocco I would visit again. I loved the farm-house so much I ended up staying an extra two days just to enjoy a few extra days of zen.

ROUTE TO  MARRAKESH

Reluctantly left Essaouira but decided to stop at a holistic spa and get my chakras together before the long trip.  Spent the day at the incredible Douar Noujoum which was about 40 minutes from the farm-house.  Again just perfection and a really well thought out space if you’re into spirituality and alignment with the universe.  Got a tour from the owner Bernard and I was allowed to take a few photos while the place was quiet.  To find out more or make a booking for this stunning place click here:  https://www.ressourcement-maroc.com/

 

After my spa day, I was well on my way to Marrakesh but took a quick stop as I spotted a huge Argan Oil Women’s Cooperation as I was driving towards the city.  I was taken on a quick tour and saw the process from beginning to end. I was asked to try to crack the argan seed and ended up hitting my thumb instead, ha!! Safe to say, I didn’t get the job.  These women work really hard to produce the oil and I’m glad I got a few products from them.  It’s also fascinating to see what other products are being made from the Argan paste.  They had Argan butter, soap, lip balm, lipstick, hair conditioner and shampoo.  The list goes on.  I bought myself an all round hair and body oil and it smells divine!! Might blog about it soon and share the video of the tour.

MARRAKESH

Arrived safely in Marrakesh and managed to get my parking sorted close to the Riad I was staying at Riad Moucharabieh which I had booked on my favourite website, booking.com.  As I was walking towards the Riad from the car with the Mohammed who kindly said he’d come and get me from the parking spot,  I soon started to realise just how busy it was, my anxiety kicked in but I powered through and made it to the Riad in one piece.

It was so crazy how one minute we were in the middle of a market, full of noise, people, cats, tourists, then suddenly in the same space just around the corner, the Riad was extremely quiet, peaceful, tranquil and calm, I wanted to stay in there forever.  One thing I did miss while staying at the farm-house was heating, it wasn’t cold as such but it was a lot cooler and just the luxury of a big soft fluffy bed and a power shower.  I got just that as soon as I got to my room and it felt really good.

The riad had two pool areas, terrace, lounge area and a restaurant too.  I ate out on most days so didn’t really get to try out the food in the riad but I did enjoy the pool and a few gin and tonics in the lounge.  The breakfast was so good and was free with my booking so imagine how many pancakes I had, those of you that follow me on Instagram know I LOVE PANCAKES!!

I decided to be brave and venture out the following morning after having way too many pancakes for breakfast.  I walked out and soon all the “friendly” folk suddenly wanted to help me and point me in the direction of the Medina which was just around the corner.  I say “friendly” only because every person that offered to help me find my Riad when I arrived were immediately asking for up to 300 dirams (£30) for a 5-10 minute walk around the corner.  This is the only time I missed the internet as I would’ve been able to use my Google Maps app and it also wasn’t safe for me to have my phone or camera out in case it was snatched.  Be careful of people also offering to feed you for the day, apparently it’s rude to refuse such an offer but I also think it’s damn rude to demand nearly £40 for a basic meal if you’re inviting someone for a meal in your home. I kindly said no and suddenly I was being called all kinds of names which I simply ignored and moved on. Safe to say,  I managed to find my way without the “lovely” guides and spent some time in the Medina.

 

I started to feel a little bit more relaxed and decided to just enjoy the beauty of this crazy but absolutely beautiful market.  You could find everything.  The home decor in the Moroccan style is what caught my eye the most, I nearly came home with new rugs, a whole bathtub and a few doors, if you’ve been to Morocco, you know what I mean about the doors, they are really stunning and all of them tell a story.

This was the Marrakesh I imagined and it felt good for a little while.  I headed back to my Riad and had a few more insults hurled at me for not accepting any help or food but I simply took it in my stride and hurled insults back in my native language, this was a fun game because we all got lost in translation and at one point simply stared at each other at which point my eye roll reflex began to strongly kick in.

I honestly, couldn’t wait to leave Marrakesh and wish I had just spent my whole trip in Essaouira.  But, I’m glad I went and ticked one more destination off my Wanderlust List.  I definitely wouldn’t go back to Marrakesh as a solo female traveller, let alone a black solo female traveller.  There are better places and more accepting locations to visit and I will continue to search and venture out there to visit them. I haven’t put this post up to stop anyone from going to Marrakesh but I did want to be honest about some things you might experience as a solo traveller if you are met with ignorance and intolerance. Always handle every situation calmly and with a smile.

I’ll end the blog post on that note and if any of you choose to visit any places in the world, here is my discount code for money off your accommodation on booking.com for you to enjoy at any time: https://www.booking.com/s/3369d982

Thank you for reading.

Love,
Nat x