Yes, the summer hols have just ended, yes, the children are all back at school and yes, autumn is almost upon us (with thoughts turning to Christmas soon arghh!), so plotting your next sunny holiday may not be top of your to-do list but just-in-case I have to fill you in on my recent holiday (with two teen boys and under 10 year old daughter) to beautiful Morocco.
Since the day I started reading Hideous Kinky by Esther Freud, swiftly followed by the film version starring Kate Winslet, Morocco has been on my ‘go to’ list and, nearly 25 (!!) years later, I finally made it and quite frankly, loved it. It’s crazy, chaotic and colourful – why did I wait so blimmin long?!
So, my top tips if travelling to this beautiful land:
1. If you like to unwind at the end of a very busy day spent relaxing by the pool with an ice-cold cocktail you MUST check that the hotel is not a dry one and more importantly, that you’re not travelling during Ramadan. I speak from experience! On the plus side, this does mean there are no annoying pissed people anywhere – oh joy!
2. Alcohol can be hard to track down, though some restaurants in Marrakesh do serve it. You might be better off heading to the CarreFour supermarket in the centre of Marrakesh and buying your own (though check the hours within which you can buy alcohol as these will be different to the normal opening hours).
3. I love a cuppa (think PG Tips), though much as I wish I was, I’m not really a fan of herbal teas but this is what you can expect – lots of mint tea – if you fancy doing-it-yourself then it’s off to CarreFour for teabags!
4. It’s hot, hot, hot – a swimming pool is a must.
5. This is not the place for hot pants and crop tops (thankfully) so a more conservative approach to clothing is the dress code to aim for – think long maxi dresses and floaty wraps/shawls around your shoulders.
6. The mix of languages is so lovely – a real mix of English, French and Arabic – so if like me, you fancy trying to retrieve your GCSE standard French – give it a go 🙂
7. It’s a non-judgemental place – which is really liberating. No-one cares what size you are or what you look like (apart from not flashing the flesh) – there are no billboards bearing half naked bits and bobs. Lovely and refreshing. Image is not everything in Morocco.
8. Brush up on your haggling skills – go on – maybe try a bit of role play before you go! Haggling for everything from taxi fares to goods is kind of expected and the norm so do as the locals do and get assertive.
9. The continent of Africa is closer than you might think so if a bit of culture is what you’re hankering after, but you don’t want to spend hours on a long haul flight, Morocco is for you. It’s around a 3 hour flight from the UK and is in the same time zone!
10. This isn’t really a tip – more another potential reason for you to head to this wonderful place – no mosquitoes. None. At least not when we were there …
11. The food is uh-maz-ing. Delicious tagines, stews, cous-cous, fruits (the melons here are HUGE!) plus, due to the French influence, there are so many yummy pastries, croissants and cakes – I was in food heaven ha!
12. If you dare to check out the sights and smells of the souks (which you absolutely have to by the way), amongst the camels, fire-eaters, monkey trainers and snake charmers you’ll find stall after stall after stall selling a myriad of amazing and beautiful gifts for you, your family and your home. Think delicate tealight holders, woven bags, leathers, Moroccan slippers, pom pom baskets, oils (including the amazing Moroccan hair oil), spices and stunning fine silver and gold jewellery. You’ll be spoilt for choice!
We stayed at the Le Vzior Center & Resort on the outskirts of Marrakesh (20 minutes from the airport) and it was perfect for us – family friends, lots of pools, lots of food and lots of sunshine!