Las Palmas to Marrakech. LPA -> RAK Hello Culture Shock and the Best Riad!

*note- yes this is from my trip in 2014.  I’ve been neglecting this for too long.*

Adiós Las Palmas and Hello Marrakech!

Ok.  It wasn’t that easy.  First, we had to arrange for a really early cab to the airport.  Second, we had left a deposit with the hostel workers for locks.  Well, we were able to turn back in our locks, but the hostels workers were nowhere to be found when we needed our money back.  UGH.  At least I knew we had an amazing riad to stay at in Marrakech.  But, c’est la vie.  We had a taxi to get and a flight to catch.

I was so excited about Morocco.  I’ve traveled throughout western Europe before, so while Spain was nice, I needed to see something new and different.  Don’t worry, this definitely was something new and different in a good way.

If I haven’t mentioned before about Ashley and flying, let me explain.  We had never traveled together before and I thought that since she has traveled, she would be good at it.  And by good at it, I mean a pleasant traveler.  Nope.  I’m pretty sure that she is worse to be on flights and long car rides than an infant because she can talk and articulate (over and over again) just how much she hates everything.  This is just to set you up for the next leg of our trip.

I had arranged through our super amazing riad, Riad Chi Chi, which I highly recommend, an airport transfer.  I knew nothing about Marrakech, expect what a few people I know that had lived there told me and what I read online.  I knew it was going to be a little bit of a culture shock and even the riad suggested that we use a transfer because it was difficult to find.

Two hours later, our flight landed and we were finally in Marrakech!  Just going through customs alone, I could the see this look rapidly take over Ashley.  For me, I was too excited to even entertain the feeling of culture shock.  Ashley, not so much.  She looked scared.  Exiting customs and changing money was stressing her out.  Then, we couldn’t find our riad transfer.  Eek.  That one moment, I did start to feel a little panic.  Only because I had zero internet, phone and clue as to what we would do.  But, we found him and off we were.  The drive into the medina, the old walled city of Marrakech, wasn’t long and was definitely something different to take in.  Ashley started her week long obsession with donkeys and this is where she took over my iphone to take a bunch of pictures because she didn’t have a camera.  Our driver parked just outside of the walls around Marrakech and started to lead us into the maze of the city and to our riad.

Oh Marrakech!

Inside the medina are tightly woven, winding alleys that seem to be meant for you to be constantly lost.  The city is bustling.  Packed.  People are everywhere.  There are no cars, but bicycles and motos threaten to knock you over.  Then, there are the men.  Culturally, the men in Morocco cat call.  We were dressed appropriately but that didn’t stop them.  And it seemed like every man that we passed had something to yell out at us.  It didn’t bother me.  Yes, I had to get used to it; however, I was warned ahead of time about this.  And let’s face it, after the incident in Spain, I wasn’t afraid of them.  I knew that they would say something to us as we walked by, but not get up and actually get in our faces or personal space.  Then, there was Ashley’s reaction.  Our guide walked us through the maze, down a cramped, dark and dank alley only to lead to two wooden doors and a dead end.  Ashley looked at me and I looked at her.  I think that we were both thinking the same thing.  Where the hell are we and what is behind that door?  

Riad Chi Chi Marrakech

Riad Chi Chi Marrakech

Oh sweet, gorgeous Riad Chi Chi! 

That’s right.  Down this scary dead end that looked like something two naive female travelers would meet their fate in any B horror movie, was the most amazing place.  The door opened to a beautiful white and tranquil mansion that was now a B&B.  This place would become our sanctuary for our time in the city of Marrakech.  Salah greeted us and as we filled out the paperwork, we were served traditional mint tea and cookies.  After being shown to our room, Ashley locked the door and looked at me.  She then said, “I’m not going back out there.  I’m not leaving this place.”  See, while the cat calling didn’t bother me so much, that was her breaking point of being in full blown culture shock.

We needed food and I was determined to get back out there and experience Marrakech.  After a little bit of a break, I convinced Ashley to head back out with me.  Salah gave us a cell phone to use and a map.  The phone was incase we got lost, we could call him and he would walk and find us.

But we had a map. 

Before we left, Ashley changed, thinking that if she looked homeless, no one would yell out at her.  HA! We made our way through the labyrinth that is the medina, trying to note the landmarks that were written on our map, so we could find our way back.  Slowly, Ashley eased up a bit.  I think she was starting to realize that everything was going to be just fine.  We sat outside on the edge of Jamaa el Fna Square and ate delicious food.  I had my first chicken tangine and Ashely had pastilla with chicken and cinnamon.  We people watched and longed for a cocktail  We deserved it.  The thing is, we couldn’t find any alcohol anywhere.  This guy handed us a flyer and it mentioned drinks.  We were in!  We found this cute little place with a roof top terrace bar- the only place that serves alcohol in the walled city.  After that, we decided to head back to our riad.

We walked.  And we walked.  We looked at the map.  We followed the markings.  Almost two hours later, we were just going in circles and lost.  I thought we could figure it out, but Ashley demanded that we call Salah.  But if everything was in Arabic, how the hell was I supposed to tell him where we were?  We walked back to the main square, found a big restaurant and used that as our landmark to call him.  He came and rescued us shortly after that.

chicken tangine

chicken tangine

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pastilla with chicken and cinnamon

Back safe in the zen of the riad, I needed wine.  We asked Salah and he graciously brought us a bottle of red wine. We sat in the courtyard going over our day, drinking wine by the mini dipping pool and using the wifi.  Because of course it didn’t work in our room LIKE EVERY PLACE ON THIS TRIP.

Day one in Marrakech was over and we were exhausted.  At this point, we had been on a very tight travel schedule and needed sleep and relaxation.  Bonne nuit Marrakech et à demain!

Definitely much needed wine

Definitely much needed wine

In the souks

In the souks

People watching in the square

People watching in the square

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