Is there a city in the world that is more historical or more beautiful than Marrakesh, Morocco? Some would certainly believe so, but those who have been to this wondrous city in North Africa would likely have a strong argument or two on their side. Marrakesh is nearly 1,000 years old, and has seen more than its share of wars, turbulence, high times and romantic times. Everyone I know who has been here has raved about several different aspects of Marrakesh. Therefore, when I was in a different part of North Africa on business recently and I stumbled upon a chance to spend 24 hours in Marrakesh, I knew I had to do something to try to make that happen. The only challenge in front of me at that point was that I had to find a Marrakesh hotel in a matter of minutes. I wasn’t sure I could pull it off, but I was sure I would give it my best shot.
I grabbed my phone and searched for apps that specialize in helping people find last-minute hotel rooms. I found HotelTonight, which I had not used but had heard about from friends as being very powerful and useful. I didn’t think it would be far-reaching enough to be able to help me find a hotel room in Marrakesh, but sure enough, it was. Not only did HotelTonight present me with choices, but it also provided me with what were clearly high-quality choices at extremely reasonable rates. I chose one that looked right for me and within a few clicks and swipes, I had my room reserved and confirmed. I could not believe my luck – I had stumbled upon a random trip to a city I had always wanted to see. Now I needed to get a list together of the parts of Marrakesh I wanted to visit.
What better place to start exploring an ancient and historic city than in a district that is home to an enormous, 700-hectare UNESCO site? That’s what Medina is, and it was as if I was walking above ground as I entered it. The first thing you notice here is the old market that has been operating since basically the beginning of recorded history. I saw products and vendors the likes of which I had not seen anywhere else, and I was thrilled to take photos with some of the locals here who were extremely friendly and as helpful as they could be given the language barrier. It was a stunning first stop for the day.
The Mellah is the part of Marrakesh that used to be known as the Jewish Quarter, as this was where the Jewish people settled and lived together for generations. I continued to be taken aback by the totally unique architecture and civic layout of the city overall and of The Mellah specifically as I walked down these streets. I was also ready for a small break, as it was quite warm and I wanted to sit and sip something nice. I found a place that served Berber tea in the true Moroccan way, and it was extremely tasty after I got used to the flavor, which took all of one sip. It was perfect for what I was looking for at the time.
My next stop was a bit of a departure from what I had seen during the morning. Sidi Ghanem is the industrial center of Marrakesh, although there was a lot of art mixed in as well, as there were artists working in old buildings on seemingly every block in the district. It was fun to look through the open doors and windows and watch these masters work, although before long my stomach began clamoring for some fuel. I found a French bistro nearby and had a delightful lunch of salad and fresh fruit, perfect for this warm weather. I was ready for the afternoon.
After lunch, I was ready to see a bit of the more modern Marrakesh, and I found it with the district of Gueliz. You can definitely feel the European influence on this part of town, as the architecture feels more European and the streets were much wider. Fortunately for me, there were also some very nice shops nearby, as I needed to get some gifts for my loved ones. I took care of that and then moved on to my final stop for the day.
I decided to end my day in old world Marrakesh by spending some time in Kasbah. When you venture into this part of town, you’re venturing into the past of a North African trading town once again. There are souks everywhere, and you hear festive music and you begin to smell the aroma of food. It’s as if all of your senses are in hyper-drive. I asked around for a place to eat, and I was directed towards a cafe that clearly served local fare. I ate things that I didn’t even recognize, but I sure enjoyed them immensely. Sadly, after my meal I realized it was time to call it a day.
As I made my way back to my hotel, I almost startled myself when I put this day into a complete perspective. I had explored Marrakesh somehow, but then I realized that the somehow was largely due to the power of HotelTonight. Without this great app, I would not have been able to find a Marrakesh hotel room so quickly. I was happy, grateful and tired. It had been a great day and I looked forward to a restful night.