Hong Kong to Morocco. Two 10-hour flights, a layover, and a 2-hour drive later, we arrived in Marrakech safely. Halfway around the world in ~36 hours!
Morocco was a dream location full of bucket list adventures. Everything was made even better with the friends that met us in Marrakech. After 45 days as a solo act, we could not have been happier to see Lindsay, Drew, Paul and Byron. Lindsay and Drew flew from NYC and Washington DC, respectively. Paul was working in Madrid, Spain for two weeks with his company. And Byron, Patrick’s roommate from NYC & ND, now lives in London. They all had Morocco on their short list and we are so appreciative that they made the trip of a lifetime happen!
Marrakech is the kind of place you visit once and immediately know you’ll be back. There is so much to see, explore, and experience. Before going, we had seen instagrams of the iconic electric-blue and red open-air markets in Marrakesh along with the caption “lost in the souks.” We quickly realized getting “lost in the souks” was not as romantic or mysterious as it sounds...but half of the fun, nonetheless! Everywhere we turned, there were beautiful handmade Berber rugs, colorful tapestries, babouche shoes, woven bags, ceramics, gorgeous kaftans, and so much more. We had so much fun in the souks searching for one-off pieces (and dodging scooters).
Buying a carpet in Morocco was an unforgettable experience. As you walk through the souks, there are hundreds of carpet vendors. We did our research and found the vendor that distributes rugs to ABC Carpet & Home in New York. Apparently the place is by appointment only—this did not stop us (MK) from marching right in. We were mesmerized by the floor to ceiling stacks of beautifully made carpets. You tell the employees what style you like and they start laying them out on the floor for you to walk on with bare feet. As we started getting more comfortable, we were finding rugs deep in the stacks. I think we asked to see 20 rugs just because of how fun it all was. In the end, MK bargained for the one we liked and we shipped it home. We took Lindsay back and she found a beautiful rug too. What a fun experience!
Doing a quick search of Marrakech, you will find a “hammam” spa experience is on the top of everyone’s list. Beyond that, we didn’t do much research, but booked the hammams at Royal Mansour and told everyone it was a massage. A hammam is not a massage—we repeat, not a massage!! It is more like a communal Turkish bath and body scrub (which made for uncontrollable giggles and great stories from both the guys and the girls).
A hot air balloon ride has been on MK’s bucket list for awhile - to have this experience in Morocco with Lindsay and Drew was truly magical. We woke up at the crack of dawn to see the sunrise from the air. We watched ten guys inflate the balloon and when it was time, we jumped into the basket and were off. It felt like we were floating through the sky. We were all speechless watching the sun rise over the Atlas Mountains. Landing was out of the movie—you cannot control or predict where the balloon will land. We watched as the cars ‘chased’ the balloon all over and when we finally descended to the ground the same ten guys ran to the balloon and literally jumped on the basket to hold it down. After that we shared a traditional moroccan breakfast under a tent outside of the city.
We had heard about the surfer towns on the coast of Morocco and decided to do a day trip to one of them. Essaouria is a small coastal town three hours outside of Marrakech. As a UNESCO World Heritage site, it is a well preserved example of an 18th century fortified seaport town. On the way to Essaouria, Lindsay screamed with excitement at our driver to pull over when she saw trees with goats. It was the most hilarious and bizarre thing to see at least 10-15 goats high up on the branches of trees. We took pictures and made our was to an Argan Oil woman’s cooperative. Here we learned these ‘goat trees’ were Argania trees, which are grown almost exclusively in Morocco. These trees produce an annual fruit crop that the goats climb up the branches to eat. After the goats finish eating the fruit and nuts off the tree, they drop clumps of seed which are then pressed to create Argan oil. We had fun buying some very authentic Argan oil products.
We continued onto Essaouria to explore the once fortified city. It was cool to walk around and see the typical souk marketplace next to huge stone walls and stone cannon ramparts. Unfortunately our visit was cut short —we got caught in the rain and were completely drenched. At least it made for a lot of laughs!
After 4 nights in the city, we thought it would be fun to go ‘glamping’ in the desert. From Marrakech, the closest desert is a ten hour drive—we opted for a 'stone desert' experience and made our way 45 minutes outside of Marrakech to Scarabeo camp. We pulled up to the camp the only thing we could see for miles were 15 white tents on desert stone against a backdrop of the snow-capped Atlas Mountains. The adventure activities were a blast—a dune buggy excursion and camel riding (which is not as glamorous or comfortable as it looks). But our favorite moments were spent with no wifi, playing cards by the fire and watching the sunset from our family tent. Such a serene and surreal experience camping under the stars in Morocco!
Our days were full of explorations and our nights were full of long Moroccan traditional meals - wine, tajine and couscous (lots of couscous)! We couldn’t have asked for a better group to experience Morocco with and have stories and memories that will last a lifetime!