Day 2 was the first day we actually ventured outside, but let's rewind ...
Day 1 - The Evening
... came as it does. Of course we explored the hotel and were super impressed with the facilities including the spa, overall decoration of the reception and the pool area. We promised ourselves that we would nap for a little while and then wake up and go for an evening stroll because of our early start in London - however, we woke up at a ridiculous time (around 9/10pm) and by that time it was too late to go out so we went down to the bar and chilled.
... was awful from the first day right up until the last - having more than one cup of juice was a problem. It was described as a buffet but in reality didn't come anywhere close.
... was a foe, for me anyway. It was suuuuuper hot (averaging 35-40 degrees for the week we were there) and I found myself tired although I knew I wasn't (if that makes sense?!). But it was such a beautiful change from London; the African sun always looks out for my skin! This was us after just walking down the street, LOL
This roundabout became our landmark that we were nearly 'home'
... pretty much what I would wear in London, if not more daring as the heat was just that tough. I did a lot of reading because I am aware Morocco is a Muslim country and didn't wish to offend anyone but they're pretty tolerant. Obviously there was the odd gaze and unwarranted interest here and there. What I would say is that if you'd like to avoid all of that and blend in, wear the traditional kaftans.
The Old City
... contains the souks which was one of the must-see/experiences of Marrakesh so we headed that way. There were taxis parked outside the hotel so each time we left we were 'chased' down the streets being offered deals to explore the city - the hotel man told us to avoid these. I think I mentioned before that the locals are super helpful and made every effort - sometimes too much - to help us find our way. Although we had a map which was written in French, the road signs were in Arabic and some roads didn't even have any. A common problem also was that many of the winding roads in the old city weren't on the map. So after following one or two people, we took our chances and just decided to get lost within the Old City. This is when we bumped into two girls from Australia who befriended us. Soon we found ourselves following another local (again) who took us on a surprisingly interesting tour ... gratis.
We encountered our first haggling experience with an elderly man who owned a small shop selling leather bags, rugs and traditional Moroccan garments. I personally didn't buy anything because it wasn't as cheap as I was expecting - the prices he would accept were pretty much the same as in London because I would say they're generally all clued up on exchange rates. But it was a lovely experience, served with their traditional tea and photographic opportunities.
(The wall separating the Old and New Cities)
... that we visited was spectacular. From the outside, it looked like your average plain wall, but when inside, they open up into majestical green spaces with such a Moroccan atmosphere. The host was very welcoming - albeit the name of her Riad has slipped my memory - as we knocked and she allowed us to explore the courtyard, the rooftop pool and surrounding scenery. Riads are large traditional houses built around a central courtyard that have been converted into hotels. I think staying in a Riad offers the true traditional experience of staying in Morocco whilst the hotels in the New City remain modern and 'a home away from home' per se.