For some reason, at the beginning of the year and maybe because I knew I was going to travel half way across the world, I had this random idea of spending my birthday in Morocco. It was one of those ideas I put out into the world and never dwelt more into planning for it.
Fast forward to December, a Portuguese friend mentioned her and another friend were planning a weekend trip to Marrakech. And as the universe would have it, it just so happened to be that their trip was during my birthday weekend, so there was no way I could skip out on joining them.
I arrived in Marrakech friday afternoon and after checking in and meeting my friends at the Riad (a traditional Moroccan house), we headed out to dinner, where I had my first taste of couscous. We spent the rest of the night walking through the markets and really just taking in the sights of the Jamaa El Fna Square and the markets.
The next day we went to Jardim Majorelle and the Yves Saint Laurent Museum. This was the one thing I absolutely did not want to miss because I really love Vogue and all things fashion. Unfortunately, its not allowed to take pictures at the YSL museum but seeing those designs up close was amazing. The garden itself is just an oasis in the middle of the busy streets and terra-cotta colored buildings.
The streets are very confusing in Marrakech and we went in circles a lot to try to find the Ben Yussef Madrasa, which unfortunately was closed for repairs at the time. We ended up going to the Secret Garden (also very hard to find), which had recently undergone repairs to attempt to restore it to its former glory.
On the day of my actual birthday, we went to the Badii Palace and the Bahia Palace, had lunch at a plaza and ended up finding a place to grab a drink to celebrate later on that night. Because Morocco is a predominantly muslim country, its not very common to see men smoking or drinking, much less women, so one of the few places that actually sold alcohol was a restaurant called Cafe Arabe and it was worth it to splurge on a birthday drink and nice chat.
And that was the last day in Marrakech. My friends had and earlier flight than I the next morning so they left before me and I stayed behind, bought a couple of spices and some cinnamon and took off.
It was and absolutely amazing experience for my 23rd birthday. I was really excited because I could say that I’ve now also been in the continent of Africa, but Morocco is so far off from what you imagine when you think of Africa. Its completely different than anything I’ve ever seen or anything I’m used to, starting with the people, the palaces and markets, gardens and mosques, foods and colors and hearing arabic, french and english and even spanish speaking locals. I really hope to visit Morocco again and this time, I don’t want to leave before taking trip to the Sahara or the Atlas Mountains.