I’m usually the world’s laziest traveller.
My usual style of holiday is one that involves me being picked up and plonked on the other side of the world to eat and drink my way through another city and culture.
I’ll sometimes throw in a museum visit to add in some “proper” culture but if I’m completely honest, my holidays are mostly led by searching for my next delicious meal and alcoholic beverage.
This time around I was heading to Marrakech in Morocco, and to be honest I knew very little about it.
THINGS I THOUGHT I’D NEVER DO ON A HOLIDAY:
RIDE A CAMEL
A lot of people asked me when I got back from Morocco, ‘did you ride a camel?’ And the answer is yes, yes I did.
Was I completely confident about it? Not particularly. I’m only 155cm tall and I know camels are much taller than that so it was a daunting prospect.
So far, so good. Picture: Victoria NielsenSource:news.com.au
The first five minutes of the ride consisted of me making some terrible attempts at snapping some selfies, but realised I was so terrified of falling seven feet down that I couldn’t let go of the saddle. This is predominantly the quality of photo that I ended up with:
Not feeling cute, might definitely delete later. Picture: Victoria NielsenSource:news.com.au
STAY OVERNIGHT IN A REMOTE VILLAGE
If travelling to a place with no Wi-Fi excites you then I’d recommend adding this to your list. After about an hour of continually checking my phone for a signal, you’d be surprised how quickly you can forget about the internet.
We travelled to the remote village of Tizi N’Oucheg – located in the Atlas Mountains about two hours outside of Marrakech.
The drive in our 4WD up the steep mountains was bumpy but offered a truly spectacular view of the pristine snow capped mountains.
This photo was shot on an iPhone, from a moving car – no bad shots here:
Atlas Mountains Morocco near Tizi N’oucheg. Picture: Victoria NielsenSource:news.com.au
Stunning view from the guesthouse:
Village of Tizi N’oucheg. No filter required and shot on an iPhone. Picture: Victoria NielsenSource:news.com.au
As we walked through the village, the local kids get excited and swiftly run down to have a peek at us tourists and offer some samples of goods made in the village.
Morocco tourism trip for news.com.au story only. Picture: Victoria NielsenSource:news.com.au
HIKE UP THE SIDE OF A MOUNTAIN IN THE NORTH OF AFRICA
As much as I’d hate to admit it, adventure is usually far from being my middle name.
I’m usually a stick to the main roads and civilisation kinda gal – so setting off on a half day trek through a remote village was certainly a new experience for me.
Our trusted guide Rachid, who also owned the guesthouse we stayed in, led us down and up and through the mountains for what was described as a leisurely walk. To be honest, If I didn’t occasionally go to the gym I might have needed a helicopter to lift me out.
Made it. Picture: Victoria NielsenSource:news.com.au
The view was worth it. Picture: Victoria NielsenSource:news.com.au
View of the guesthouse from the nearby village. No wi-fi this high up. Picture: Victoria NielsenSource:news.com.au
While you can most certainly search out places to grab a drink, don’t expect those places to be at a restaurant. Morocco is a Muslim country and drinking isn’t part of their local custom. However there are plenty of bars in Marrakech for tourists to head to – while there are only a few inside the old medina, there are plenty within Marrakech.
And while I would have loved a wine after that long hike – it was excellent to wake up without a hangover.
HAGGLE FOR A BARGAIN
If shoes, handbags and jewellery are your thing, this is the place to be, and be prepared to haggle.
It’s hard to work out what might constitute getting ripped off – my hot tip would be to ask a local what they might pay first.
I bought a pair of leather slippers for $10aud, a leather handbag for $30 and three beautiful handpainted food platters for $50.
Vendors will try to guess where you’re from and shout out something brief to get your attention – given their proximity to France, it would usually start with a ‘bonjour!’ although once they heard my Aussie accent would offer up either a very amusing Jamie Oliver or Steve Irwin impression to convince me to buy their wares.
Just remember you’re not locked into buying anything so just laugh with them and keep on walking.
Watch out for the motorbikes in the souks. Picture: Kumar Sriskandan/AlamySource:Alamy
DANCE WITH A TRADITIONAL GNAWA BAND
Gnawa is a form of indigenous North African music used to accompany prayers, rituals and other celebrations.
Crowd participation, especially where dancing is concerned, isn’t usually my thing – but within minutes each person in our group was pulled up for their turn to twirl, clap and dance with the band.
Yours truly on the left.Source:Supplied
LEARN HOW TO COOK MOROCCAN FOOD
I consider myself a foodie in as much as I like cooking and I like eating.
While in the village of Tizi N’oucheg, we took part in a cooking class led by our local host Chaima’s mum. Tagines are the norm in Morocco – so it was handy to learn how to cook what I predominantly ate on the trip.
Meatballs before. Picture: Victoria NielsenSource:news.com.au
Meatballs after. Picture: Victoria NielsenSource:news.com.au
Walking through the old medina I spotted a few sweets and pastry stalls that were filled with swarms of bees. It makes sense to have these guys guarding the sweet, honey laden treats, sign me up! Might let someone else grab it out of the counter though.
Bees are given free reign. Picture: Gabor Kovacs/AlamySource:Alamy
Prepare yourself for a hefty amount of travel time – 32 hours from Sydney to Hong Kong, Hong Kong to Paris, Paris to Marrakech. With about 3 hours wait time during each stopover I was still feeling excited but mostly unhumanlike by the time I arrived.
Airbnb are offering travellers the option of booking ‘adventures’ that take you on a journey more off the beaten path. Costs range from $79 for a one night trip up to $5000 for a ten day trek, with most adventures priced at $750. This includes accommodation, activities and admission costs, transport and all main meals. You’ll also have local guides to show you around, rather than winging it yourself – our guides offered up all sorts of info on local customs, language, food and what the locals do for fun.
The writer travelled to Morocco as a guest of Airbnb.
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