My trek from Casablanca to Marrakech was easy and fun, thanks to an Aussie couple I met on the cab ride to the train station. Emma and John helped make the three or so hours pass by relatively quickly, as we played card games and talked about our travels and life in general – I truly never thought that I would make friends so quickly and easily during this trip! Upon our arrival to Marrakech, the only thing that we all could agree on was how clean and beautiful the city looked, especially in comparison to the shit-hole (for lack of a better term) that was Casablanca. I was eager to get out and explore the area!
Unfortunately, my time in Marrakech started out on a rather sour note. A teenaged boy overheard which hostel I was going to and began to lead the way down the winding alleys of the medina before disappearing down a side-alley. Since I had a general idea of where I was heading, I kept walking but passed the entrance because there was no clear sign to the alley in which the hostel was located. At that point, another of the teenaged boys chased me down and led me back around the corner where the hostel was located, which of course I was grateful for; however, what I wasn’t grateful for was the fact that he had another friend blocking my way into the hostel who was claiming to work there, and that I needed to give the kid a bunch of money for giving me help that I didn’t ask for. When I gave the kid some of the coins that I had, he acted incredibly ungrateful, and told me that I should be giving him paper money. Unfortunately for him, I wasn’t about to be hustled for any more money than I was already giving him, and told him to take what I was willing to give or receive nothing. He was pissed off at this fact, but at this time the manager of the hostel came out and welcomed me inside, so I was able to get away from the brat’s greedy little mitts.
Once I stepped inside, all negativity from the moments previous were swept away. Riad Layla Rouge was absolutely stunning, and everything you imagine when you think of Morocco: colorful walls, comfortable, cushioned couches, beautiful light fixtures, open-air ceiling…I was in total awe. The hospitality was phenomenal on top of that, and I was served tea and cookies as I was checked in. Once I dropped my stuff off in the 8-person bedroom, I was given a quick tour before I went off to explore the medina.
Right off the bat, I knew I did not want to be outside of the hostel alone after dark – the alleys were far too quiet and winding during the daytime for my liking as it was, I couldn’t imagine trying to find my way back when night set in. Nevertheless, I made my way to the heart of the medina to explore the various stands and shops for a couple hours. I was surprised at how much more forceful the people were in Marrakech compared to Casablanca, as it felt like every five seconds I was approached by a new person trying to sell me something, be it henna tattoos, jewelry, or clothing. At one point, a veiled woman named Fatima came up to me, offering me henna tattoos “for luck” and to “get a husband.” I politely declined a number of times despite her insisting, at which point she grabbed my hand and tattooed me without my asking (notice a theme here yet?). Obviously, she wished to be paid for this unrequested service, so I gave her a couple bucks so as not to have any trouble. Personally, had I chosen to get a henna tattoo during the trip, I would have chosen a different design, but with all things considered, it didn’t turn out half bad…but, it didn’t get me a husband by the end of the night as she guaranteed, so I feel a little gipped. Ha!!
I continued to wander around the medina for a little while longer in hopes of finding the spice souk, but to no avail – it was certainly an elusive bugger – so I made my way to one of the small restaurants to enjoy a late lunch of shawarma. Unfortunately, it was by far the most pathetic shawarma I have ever had the displeasure to taste, and I left feeling disappointed. I made my way back to the hostel rather early since I was exhausted from constantly being on my guard, thanks to being hassled to buy things or for being alone. Despite being beautiful, Marrakech was far too touristy for my taste, which left me reluctant to explore some of the more historical aspects of the city.
I spent the rest of the evening relaxing on the beautiful terrace and chatting with some of my suitemates over hookah, and I have to sat that it was awfully nice to be able to chill out and relax for a bit after two days of exploring new cities. Though I can’t say I would recommend Casablanca to anyone wanting to visit Morocco, I can certainly say that Marrakech is worth checking out, especially if you stay at Riad Layla Rouge. Like I said before, it’s a little too touristy for my taste, but there is plenty of shopping and historical monuments to visit which would make the visit worth it for couples or groups traveling together. For me, though, if it weren’t for Riad Layla Rouge, it probably wouldn’t be worth a second visit – just another city to check off the bucket list.