What To Pack For Marrakech

We visited in March when the weather can be very unpredictable – it was 30 degrees when we arrived but by the end of the week, plunged to eight degrees at night.  This is not a dressy place so a casual wardrobe is the way to go. I was strongly tempted to go full on boho, but decided to temper my choices to be age appropriate.  I can keep my boho stuff for yoga classes!

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These are my top tips for what to wear:

  • I’m sure you’ve heard this a million times, but take sensible shoes.  I have a pair of superlight trainers which take up little space or weight in your 20 kg Sensimar Thomson allowance, and although not particularly stylish, save a lot of heartache in the long run.  Wearing trainers allows you to properly explore – so just do it!  Having said that, there’s no way my fashion sense would let me travel in them.
  • Travel in mules – easy to slip off for security and I pack a pair of cosy socks to wear once we are in flight.  My mules are silver, go with everything and are the only pair of shoes I needed for evenings.  Mine are from Dune.
  • Daytime ‘hanging out’ shoes are my silver Office sliders – metallics just go with everything and these take me from pool to lunch, to a short walk out.  I wouldn’t walk more than three miles in them, but I have my trainers for that.
  • A long tunic style shirt for sightseeing – keeps you cool and is modest.  Mine is by East.
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  • Pool wear – to be honest, I’m not much of a sun lover, but do take one cossie, one bikini and a sarong which is more than adequate for the amount of time I spend by the pool.
  • A cardi – it’s cool at night.  I always travel with a cashmere cardi which I wear on the plane with a large cashmere scarf that doubles as a blanket.  Mine is a burgundy colour from Isle.
  • Jeans: one blue, one white.  These are great for casual evening dressing and I just take a couple of pretty tops in silk or cotton.  My favourite, pictured, is orange silk from Monsoon.
  • One dress.  You never know when a dressy opportunity may present itself, so I have a Phase Eight black stretch dress which rolls up crease free for packing.  It doesn’t matter if I don’t wear it, but it’s a useful option.
  • Now, I did say not too much boho, but I did indulge a bit with a fringed, embroidered kimono which was useful for covering up when out and about.  Morocco is a Muslim country and it’s important to be respectful and not flash too much flesh, so this was perfect.  It’s advised to keep your shoulders covered when out, so anything light over a vest top would work.

 

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  • I would never wear shorts, but my advice if you do, would be keep them knee length.
  • My khaki walking pants – not a great look, but I don’t go walking on holiday without them.  Light as a feather and don’t show the dirt!
  • I carried my trusty leather hobo bag and it was perfect: you need lots of space for shopping!  I bought this in New York last year and worried about the pale colour, but it really is so useful.

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  • A teeny shoulder bag.  Enough to carry my iPhone and to keep over my shoulder when in the hotel.

That’s pretty much it for clothes – I didn’t take much jewellery (and nothing of value) as I knew I would buy some bits in the souks – which of course I did.  I also succumbed to some rather lovely slippers.  Happy packing!

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Marrakech for Softies

I have wanted to see Marrakech since Michael Palin’s Sahara programme back in the nineties.  This desire was fuelled by Pinterest pictures of fabulous architecture and blog posts about getting lost in the souks.  I finally got my way last month and we touched down in the amazing modern airport full of excitement.

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Our excitement was tempered somewhat by a two hour queue to get through passport control (yes, seriously) and by the time we got to the hotel we were wondering what we had let ourselves in for.  However, the next morning, the city was revealed in all its shabby chic glory.  Here are my best bits:

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The Marjorelle Gardens

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I’ve written a full blog post about this which you can read herehere.  So inspirational and it has given me lots of ideas for my own garden.

The Artisan Market

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Next door to our hotel and perfect for shopping if you don’t like haggling.  I bought most of my stuff here.  The tiles in this place are just gorgeous.  You pay a little bit more than the souks, but saves a lot of hassle if you are a hopeless haggler like me.  They did a mean mint tea too.

The Souks

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Amazing warren of tiny alleyways – we toured with a guide as I wasn’t adventurous enough to risk getting lost.  You can buy almost anything here including wrought iron, leather goods, spices and clothing.

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The main square is a cacophony of people shouting; trance like music; and people approaching you with anything from snakes, to monkeys to henna tattoos.  Kids pestered us to buy tissues and were quite persistent.  We escaped to the Café de France to watch the chaos from afar with a mint tea.

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The storks at the Badi palace

At about 25 minutes walk from our hotel (with quite a bit of pestering along the way) this was an easy DIY option.  We had a pop out map with us, but the huge storks’s nest on the ramparts could be seen from afar, so no danger of getting lost.  I loved this place with its souk and these huge amazing birds just flying around above you.

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The whole experience was memorable to say the least – despite us taking the easy option!

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Sensimar Medina Gardens, Marrakech: Hotel Review

Marrakech has been on my bucket list for years, but Steve has never been keen.  However, in the spirit of ‘just do it’ he agreed, in a weak moment, to spend a week at the Medina Gardens which is located within the Medina and close to all the action.  We chose this hotel for a few reasons.  Firstly, it is all inclusive and great value for money.  We don’t mind paying for all inclusive then eating out too – it doesn’t work out that expensive, plus you are limited for places to drink alcohol outside of the hotel, which is fair enough.  Secondly, this is a way to do ‘Marrakech light’ if you like, a namby pamby way to see all the sights without full immersion in the culture. Thirdly, the location really appealed to us as we like to walk everywhere if we can when on holiday and everything is literally on your doorstep.  I will write about Marrakech soon, but concentrating just on the hotel, this is what we thought.

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The gardens are fabulous!  The air is heavily scented with neroli from the orange trees which were in blossom during our March visit.

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All the herbs for the kitchen are grown in the gardens which is great to see.

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They have pet tortoises which are partial to a banana smuggled out of breakfast.

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The food was fabulous – if you like tagines and veggie dishes with lots of pulses, this is for you.  It suited me perfectly. The wine is a bit on the rough and ready side – it was called Kasbah (of course it was!) and we found the rose to be the most palatable.  Steve couldn’t get on with the beer at all.

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Our room was a garden room, so no view, but it was adequate.  I have to say there were maintenance issues – the wall light fell off, the wardrobe doors stuck, coming perilously close to preventing a change of clothes, and the sink had a tendency to block.  We fondly dubbed it Fawlty Towers, but it was OK really.

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The service was on the whole, poor.  Hard to get a drink in the bar.  Another downside was that although our holiday started in thirty degree heat, later in the week the temperature plunged to eight degrees at night and there was limited space to sit and chat indoors.

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The Thomson rep service was good and nothing was too much trouble.  We very rarely go to a welcome meeting because we like to make our own mistakes (ha ha) but this time, we took planned trips to make sure we didn’t miss anything.

At dusk, sitting around the pool and hearing the call to prayer from the Koutoubia Mosque I have to say it was quite magical.

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Marrakesh: Majorelle Garden

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We visited this amazing garden last month.  The blue and mustard has really inspired me!

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There is running water everywhere.

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The planting and the architecture complement each other beautifully.

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The Moorish influence is clear to see, but the whole is very modern.

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We took mint tea in the little café.

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This mustard colour inspired me to buy a leather pouffe for my living room.

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There are cats everywhere in Marrakesh

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These huge bamboos were so smooth to the touch!

Just one of the many inspiring things we came across on our trip.  I would love to go back.

A Weekend Yoga Retreat in North Wales

The sun certainly shone down on us this weekend for our yoga retreat with Bodywork Pilates.  Our home for two nights was the Loreto convent in Llandudno, a rambling building dating back to the 1920s, ideal for a group getaway.

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We had a good selection of classes to choose from, including some Pilates sessions too.

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My personal favourite is yin yang yoga which focuses on holding postures for a few minutes at a time (yin) and then moves to a more dynamic practice (yang).

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In between classes there was time to get out into the fresh air and explore the town.  If you have never been to Llandudno, it has a real Edwardian feel to it and is a beautifully kept Welsh seaside town.  With all the Black Friday madness that was going on in the world, it was great to switch off with the papers and a cuppa before heading back to our cosy retreat.

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The reason I do yoga is that it gives you a good mind/body workout and having a weekend to relax and get into the flow was perfect.  It was a great opportunity to meet and chat with some amazing women, to listen to their stories, and to bond over a shared interest.

Helen, who owns Bodywork Pilates, is also an ambassador for Tropic skincare and I took the opportunity to try out some of their organic and wonderfully scented skincare products which I had taken with me for the weekend.  I used the skin revive moisturiser during the day and the organic elixir facial oil at night.  I always use an oil at bedtime but this is particularly important when I’ve been out bracing the elements!  Both moisturiser and oil are soothing and gentle on the skin.

The smoothing cleanser is very like another of my favourites, Liz Earle, and provides a welcome blast of eucalyptus to your morning routine.  The toner is again, very gentle and lightly scented.

My favourite product was the face smooth brightening polish which gently exfoliates without leaving you looking pink!

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Overall, it has been a very relaxing weekend and I’m ready to face Christmas now!

 

 

Uetliberg

The final part of my Swiss adventure involved a trip to the top of the mountain which overlooks Zurich: Uetliberg.

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From our base at the wonderful Hotel Atlantis by Giardino, it was an easy walk downhill to the train station, passing this cute little troll house on the way (no idea what its purpose was as it was deserted).

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The trains in Switzerland all run on time and this cute little mountain train was no exception. We passed through fields initially, then little villages, until finally reaching the forest.   I was delighted to see that the cows do indeed have bells in Switzerland.  I think this one was a bull actually.

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From the train station final stop, it was a steady 15 minute uphill walk to the very top.  I’d like to say the view of the city was amazing, but as we were above the clouds we saw precisely nothing.  It was worth it for the walk in the forest though!

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On our descent we decided to go into the station café for a bite to eat.  I confidently ordered from the menu in my schoolgirl German, only to be presented with something like a weiner schnitzel.  Not what I ordered but no matter – I need to brush up on my language skills.

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On a clear day you can see for miles from the station we were told, but to be honest, we really enjoyed getting out into the fresh air and into the beautiful forest.

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