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Behind the scenes • Community

Just back from… Marrakesh

By Louise Bastock   18 February 2016 9:18am Europe/London

AnneMarie

AnneMarie soaking up some sun with a view over Marrakesh © AnneMarie McCarthy

AnneMarie McCarthy, social news coordinator at Lonely Planet, is just back from an action-packed excursion to Marrakesh.

Tell us more… I went with 9 other people to celebrate a friend’s 30th birthday. A three-day trip to a hot climate to look forward to in January? Yes please! As there was so many of us, we booked an entire riad so not only did we have lots of space and a rooftop terrace to relax in, we got a peek at the beautiful houses that lie behind the plain, heavy doors of the medina.

Defining moment? Sitting on top of the roof of a jeep while driving through the windy roads of the Atlas Mountains comes to mind! Health and safety? Not such a big deal in Morocco. It was definitely the best seat in the house and my most memorable moment of the trip.

Medina

You’ll be spoilt for choice in Marrakesh’s souks © AnneMarie McCarthy

Fridge magnet or better? After half an hour bargaining, I got a gorgeous, blue leather jacket from one of the leather souks in the medina. I probably paid far more than I should, but it was still a bargain for me. You won’t run out of beautiful things to bring home with you, but you will need lots of patience; haggling is a serious business in Morocco. If you don’t invest the time to gradually increase your price – and allow the seller to decrease theirs – one of you will end up losing patience and walking away. Best to pick a couple of things you really want and get them first – it’s easy to give up after a few hours!

Good grub? By the time I got home I think my body composition was about 30% tagine. In Morocco, there’s a lot of emphasis on slow cooking lamb and beef with lots of warm spices and fresh vegetables. Every meal comes with bread to dip into the delicious sauce and oil left at the end of your tagine pot. Vegetarians might find it a little difficult to get variety, but can definitely be accommodated with vegetable cous cous and amazing olives. Finish every meal with some wild mint tea and watch your servers to see who pours it from highest up! (Pouring from a height helps to swirl up loose tea leaves and adds a nice frothy head to your beverage.)

4x4

Nothing says adventure quite like a sunset quad bike through the desert © AnneMarie McCarthy

If you do one thing do… Get out to the Atlas Mountains, even if it’s just for a day trip. We booked a 12 hour tour with lots of activities: not only did we see snow-capped mountains and scenic lakes, we travelled up a mountain on some very sure-footed donkeys, had a three-course lunch in a Berber household and went quad-biking through the desert at sunset. When I came home, I felt like I’d been away for a week instead of three days because I had packed so much in.

Bizarre encounter? I’d heard a lot about women getting harassed on the street before I went. While none of us walked around alone, I was pleasantly surprised about how little attention we got and how funny some of the comments were. Throughout my three days there I was variously called Jennifer Lopez, Shakira and just ‘Spice Girls’. Apparently most of the cultural references are still stuck in the 00’s!