Kevin and I just got back from a 6-day-long whirlwind trip to Morocco. Before we left, strangers online told me we couldn’t do this country justice in only 6 days, and that we really should consider extending it. Well, that wasn’t an option for us due to scheduling. And while we certainly didn’t see even close to all the major tourist sites of this beautiful country, we got a lovely taste of it and really enjoyed ourselves!
Here are my four favorite memories from our trip.
1. Eating sweets at La Patisserie des Princes
On the edge of the medina in Marrakech, not too far from Jemaa el-Fna square, is a fancy little bakery called La Patisserie des Princes. I had found it online during my research and wanted to go there, but then we found it in person by happy accident while looking for a money exchange.
On one wall of the shop were cases filled to the brim with tiny homemade sweets to buy in bulk. They were traditional recipes used with sugar alternatives and tasted very different from what I eat at home.
On the other side of the shop was a case of cakes and tarts to eat in the upstairs dining room.
These delicacies were sweeter and perhaps more European in nature. I asked the cashier what her favorite was, since everything looked amazing, and she pointed to the millefeuille.
I got one and it was outstanding! Kevin’s Oreo dessert was a bit of a surprise. We thought it would be mousse-like in texture, but it was very spongey.
Everything was gorgeous and thoughtfully made! We highly recommend a visit!
2. Getting to see that Morocco is more than just desert
When tourists come home from Morocco, they tend to share a lot of photos of the beautiful orange sand dunes, and for good reason (they are amazing!). But there is quite a variety of landscape types in Morocco besides desert. We were pleasantly surprised to see some other terrain that the country has to offer.
Morocco has some amazing mountain views in their portion of the Atlas Mountain range.
And some even have snow at the peaks!
There are also palm trees.
And citrus trees.
And rock formations.
And green valleys in between.
It really is beautiful everywhere you look!
3. Riding camels into the desert at Erg Chebbi
When we booked this trip, we knew we wanted to spend a night camping in the desert near Merzouga. However we had hoped to avoid the camel ride due to ethical concerns. However, during all my research, I could not find an excursion in our price range that said anything about taking a 4×4 rather than camels, and I even reached out to operators with no luck.
So we decided to book this trip on arrival and hope for the best. When we got to the desert, we asked about a vehicle (answer: none available) and then about walking next to the camels (not practical in the deep sand). There was also a bit of a language barrier that didn’t help.
So we ended up on the camels anyway. They seemed well-cared-for, and the handler was attentive to them and their sounds, which was a good sign. I really and truly hope they are happy camels.
This turned out to be one of my favorite experiences of all my travels! Our small group trekked into the desert in near silence, which was quite a surreal feeling. Only the sounds of the camels’ feet on the sand and the occasional whisper among travelers.
No data signal, no traffic, no life except us. Plenty of time alone with my own thoughts and the opportunity to appreciate the vastness of the sand dunes.
We began the walk shortly before sunset, and the sky turned colors as we got further from civilization.
We saw light blues turn into dark blues and yellows and pinks. The colors faded smoothly into each other in a way no painter can ever recreate. Nature felt so powerful out there, and hit me like a physical force in my chest. We watched the sun set behind us as we all slowly disappeared into the darkness. It was simply magical and something I will never forget.
4. Arriving to Riad Soundouss after a long day of travel
When we had left for the desert, we took two days to get from Marrakech to Merzouga, and stopped for the sights along the way. But on the way back, we did it all in one go – about 10 hours total with one stop for lunch.
By the time we got into Marrakech again, it was already around 8pm, and we were tired, dirty, and running low on adventurous energy. We were also getting anxious about finding our new accommodations. I had typed up directions, but I was not looking forward to wandering the medina in the dark, in search of our riad and while carrying our big backpacks like a neon “I’m a lost tourist” sign.
Our driver dropped us off as close as he could get the van, but we’d still need to find the right door. Here’s the daytime version of what we were looking for that I photographed the next day:
We were left in a little square filled with parked cars away from the more touristy area. I’d seen the photos of the riad, and it looked too fancy for this space. But our van driver grabbed some random guy walking past and asked him to bring us there, which he did (before asking for a tip). The whole time I was on edge, though.
It wasn’t too far of a walk, and when the door opened and a beautiful young lady opened the door for us and greeted us with accented English, I let out a big sigh along with my anxiety. I don’t know why this particular event had given me extra stress when I’d experienced harder challenges while traveling before, but I think it was because it came at the end of a very long day. I’m definitely a morning person, and at this time of night, I prefer to be winding down.
The woman brought us into the courtyard, told us to set down our bags and sit and relax at a table.
Then she brought us tea!
At one point I asked if they needed to see our reservation paperwork and was told “Don’t worry about that right now, just relax.” It was wonderful.
I let the anxiety slink out of me and just took in my surroundings. And what lovely surroundings they were! It was dark out, but the Moroccan lamps were all lit and casting beautiful shadow patterns on the walls.
There was a fountain tinkling gently and no other patrons around to be noisy.
There were plants and flowers giving off their fresh scent. And every direction there was amazing architectural detail to see.
After the long day in the bumpy van, it felt unbelievably serene, and I was all about it. What a gorgeous place to stay!
We had a great almost-week in the south of Morocco, and these four experiences really made it! We can’t wait to go back to Morocco and see more of the country!