Monday, 10 September 2012

Marrakech... sun, souks and snake charmers!

In June, my boyfriend and I went on our first holiday together in 5 years! We have been together for 7 so it was really about time! We went to Marrakech in Morocco. I went last year with my Mum and loved everything about it.
We booked our two week all inclusive holiday to Riu Tikida Garden Hotel through First Choice, for £649 (total bargain!), and flew from Manchester on 21st June.

The weather was HOT!!! By about 10am it was 35° and by midday it was 40°+. The hottest it got whilst we were there was 49°.  I love the heat so was more than happy but if you're thinking of going, it is worth considering the time of year and how hot you want it to be.

The Hotel:
Our hotel was lovely! It is rated 4* and has a mixture of reviews on Trip Advisor. We thought it was fab, the staff were very accommodating, even helping us to move rooms on the first day so we could have a balcony. The reps were great; I had printed a list of things I wanted to do (non-Thompson) whilst we were there and the rep made all the phone calls and arranged all our bookings and didn't charge us. 
The restaurant was great, plenty of fresh Moroccan food (and the standard pizza/pasta for the non-adventurous types). There was plenty of cocktails at the all inclusive bar, but we chose to take our drinks outside as in Morocco the smoking ban doesn't exist so it was a bit too much to sit indoors. 
The hotel has a huge pool, which is lovely and refreshing in the heat! My one and only complaint about the whole holiday is the ridiculous towel-gate situation! On our first day, we didn't get to the pool until about 11, where we found all the poolside loungers were taken (or reserved) so we happily found a couple of loungers in the garden area. I was laid on my front, reading my kindle with my hands on the floor. Unfortunately I hadn't realised the ground was infested with ants. My hands swelled up and were very painful for a good few days. So after that I wanted to be around the pool, on the paved ground. But you had to be up by 8am to grab a lounger... any later and they were gone! I wake up early anyway so was happy to get up at 8 and read my kindle by the pool for an hour before waking the boyfriend up for breakfast. It was well worth it for getting a good spot but I wish there wasn't such a ridiculous culture of reserving beds with towels, when you're not even going to sit there until after lunch!!!

I did my research beforehand and thanks to Trip Advisor I had a list of things that we wanted to do whilst we were there. This included: 
A visit to the Yves Saint Laurent gardens - beautiful, traditional gardens with lots of photo opportunities!

A day out at the Ousiria Water Park - pretty basic but a fun day out!

Plenty of trips to the Jemaa El Fna centre - also known as the Old Town. The famous square is bustling, but watch out for the snake charmers, and monkey men! I loved bartering with the stall owners and got myself a few bargains! We also ate out one evening, but avoided the street stalls as the freshness of the food looked questionable!

Sky Bar - in the part of Marrakech known as the New Town. It wasn't my favourite part of Marrakech as it is a bit modern and doesn't have the traditional charm! But the view from the top of the roof bar was amazing, watching the sunset was just stunning! (Bit pricey though!)

La Mamounia Hotel - voted one of the top hotels in the world, we decided to have a look around and see how the other half live. So we dressed up in our gladrags and ordered ourselves some drinks (£20 for a cocktail, £13 for a beer!!!!) and then went for a stroll around the grounds! 

Hot Air Balloon - This was my favourite part of the holiday. I spent weeks posting my old clothes on ebay to save up for this and it was worth every effort! We were collected at 5am from our hotel, and taken out towards the Atlas Mountains. We watched the sunrise over the stunning landscape, before landing and eating a traditional Berber breakfast. We even got a camel ride thrown in as an added extra!

Overall, it was a dream holiday! The perfect combination of culture and relaxation!