My long weekend in Marrakesh was a bit of a roller coaster. Overall, it was a great trip: E and I stayed in a beautiful boutique hotel called Riad 72 on the edge of the Medina, which – minus the bird that chirped outside our window all night long and the inescapable call to prayer that sounded at various hours of the early morning – was an oasis of calm; we got to spend some quality time with my parents (who also happened to be in Marrakesh, wrapping up a two-week tour of Morocco before heading back to California); enjoyed nearly perfect, sunny weather; squeezed in a day of trekking in gorgeous mountain scenery; and had tons of incredible food.

But what I didn’t enjoy so much (aside from the lack of sleep, due to the cute but evil bird and the beautiful but loud call to prayer) was the extreme amount of verbal and physical hassle I experienced, particularly in the Medina. I had heard plenty of warnings from friends who had been there, and I certainly had my share of hassle while backpacking in South America, but I was still surprised by how aggressive most of the vendors and various guys in the street were towards us. It made me a bit sad that I couldn’t just wander and let myself get lost without someone coming up to me every few minutes trying to direct me to the square or other main tourist attractions, and then threatening me when I wouldn’t give in to their propositions. And when I was finally in the square, I was grabbed – quite strongly – multiple times and pulled towards various food stalls. It’s one thing to yell, but physically assaulting me is NOT okay!

Thankfully, after our first day or so, we ditched our map, walked around with a bit more confidence, avoided the real touristy bits and eventually escaped to the mountains – as a result, we were bothered much less frequently.

While I sort through my hundreds of photos and process all the highs and lows, here’s a snapshot of my trek from Imlil on Saturday, which was definitely the highlight of my trip. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to climb Toubkal, but as you can see, I still enjoyed some spectacular views of the High Atlas mountains.

Another high? Definitely the food! Moroccan salads, tagines, various sweets, fresh juices…so delicious. I couldn’t stop eating (not like that’s anything new).

Here’s part of my lunch on my first day, eaten in the sunshine on the roof of Le Foundouk.

For dessert – some freshly made mini donuts that I devoured in the souks.

And on my last night, I wandered into the more modern part of Marrakesh – Gueliz – which didn’t seem that interesting to me on the whole, but I did discover this awesome patisserie.

Yeah – I’ll definitely be doing some running this week! 🙂

And to anyone running the marathon des sables later this week, best of luck! I can’t say I find that race appealing, although maybe if you promised me more of those donuts at the finish line…

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