Update: sorry guys, I was going to post something similar yesterday but ended up with no time due to all the work. I’ll try and do it tonight for you all – hope you enjoy it!
Ok, so this post is a little different from my others. Due to revision for exams, I’ve had little time to cook recently and so I don’t have any exciting recipes to share with you. However, I wanted to share my other interest with you, which is travelling. I’m starting with my trip to Morocco in 2013, and hopefully if you like them, I’ll share more with you in the future, including Dubai, America and the Czech Republic.
This trip was in April 2013, and was a school Geography trip with around 20 other students. It lasted for 7 days and took us through the city of Marrakech, trekking through the Atlas mountains and to the famous city of Ait Ben Haddou. This trip is one of the best I have ever been on, full of culture, excellent cuisine and the perfect climate.
We flew out of Gatwick Airport at midday and arrived around 3.5 hours later at Marrakech Airport, around 15 minutes from the city centre. The view on descent into Marrakech airport was amazing, with views of the vast expanse of the red city. On arrival into the airport, we took a coach to our hotel in the centre of Marrakech, which was beautiful – it was full of the local artwork, pottery and décor, and had a truly ‘Moroccan’ vibe to it. Visiting a local restaurant for dinner, we had the local cuisine of lamb tagine, which tasted marvellous and was served in the traditional clay tagine pots (one of which I later bought at the souks).
The next day, we departed early by minibus up into the Atlas mountains, passing through an area of snow even though it was over 20 degrees Celsius! For the next couple of days, we would be trekking back on ourselves towards the fabulous city of Ait Ben Haddou, walking over 10km per day in between ‘gites’ where we would be staying. On our journey up the Atlas Mountains, we took a break for lunch (including ‘Mint Tea’ which is a Moroccan must-have drink, supposedly carrying many health benefits and assisting with illness) and were joined by some friendly local children for games of football and Frisbee.
For the next couple of days, we walked through the dreamy area of the Atlas Mountains, which was so picturesque that it seemed unreal, with mountains as far as the eye could see in the warm, dry climate. The trek was not easy, but neither difficult – we were all eager to continue to see what the next area would greet us with. Throughout the trek, we were led by a local guide, who gave us further information on the area and also kept us from feeling hungry by feeding us the local delicacy of dates. A few of the photos through the trek are below, showing the clear variety of places that we passed through:
Our final day of trekking bought us to the fortified city of Ait Ben Haddou, where famous productions such as Gladiator and Game of Thrones have been filmed. This city is full of culture, with a mixture of modern and ancient architecture. With a backdrop of the Atlas mountains and the brown clay dwellings taking up the area, it really is magnificent – a hidden gem of Africa. Climbing to the top of the fortifications, you can see the whole city surrounding you, from the hotels on the outskirts to the souks in the centre, where traders are constantly trying to sell you jewellery and artwork as you pass by.
Staying overnight at the hotel, we cooled off in the coldest pool I have ever been in, which was surprising seeing as the climate was anything but cold! Waking up in the morning, several people had turned ill, ending up in them being isolated on a minibus on the journey back to Marrakech. Luckily I was unaffected! A couple of hours later, we arrived back at our original hotel in Marrakech, and went exploring the souks surrounding the main square, where I purchased a wooden sculpture of a donkey for around £1, and a tagine pot with a collection of spices for just under £4 – a bargain! Mind you, this did take around 15 minutes of bartering with the seller, and me ‘leaving’ his shop around 3 time – I was keen to barter as well as the locals!
Our meal that night was at another restaurant in the city, but this time located on a roof terrace, allowing us views of the sunset in the city, which was beautiful. After our final meal, we went briefly back to the main square to see how it has transformed to a square of traders and snake-charmers to a square packed full of street food vendors. The aroma of spices was overwhelming, and the food looked delicious, although there were some foods which were completely unrecognisable (and probably best if they remain unrecognisable!).
The next morning, we were taken on a tour of the city by a local guide, including a trip around the souks with an explanation of their foundation and history, and other cultural destinations such as the calling tower for prayer (which goes off around 4 times per day). Once this insight into Marrakech was complete, we headed back to the airport for our flight back to the UK, and ended up back at Gatwick at around 6pm.
The trip was fantastic, and Morocco is somewhere I would definitely visit again in the future. It is full of culture, from the horse-drawn carriages in Marrakech to the clay buildings in Ait Ben Haddou, and geographical wonders such as the Atlas Mountains. It’s a shame I got no photos of the food, as this was a huge highlight too, with every meal tasting amazing due to the beautiful combination of spices, fruit and vegetables, as can be summed up in the best meal of them all which is tagine. Maybe I’ll post a recipe for tagine at some point, and make use of the tagine pot that has been used a couple of times in my house!