Discover Morocco – Day 1: Marrakesh
Table of Contents
Connecting at Paris CDG Airport
Since we were connecting to another flight, we made our way to the connection area by following the yellow signs. Generally, if you bought an airplane ticket with a separate reservation code, you will have to clear immigration and customs and then recheck in with the ticketing agent outside security. We were flying Air France in Paris which is a major hub for the airline. We did not have to worry about exiting immigration/customs because we know that there should be a customer help desk to assist us in checking into our flights after security. As you follow the yellow connection signs, you will reach a security checkpoint (TSA).
Going through security was a bit tricky without an official boarding pass. We had to communicate with the agent before we entered the security line. The entrance to the security is automated in which you will need a valid boarding pass to scan for the barriers to open up before proceeding to the bag and body scans. The agent recorded our passport information and confirmation numbers for both arrival flight and departure flight. After that, she scanned her badge for the barriers to open for us to enter. After we entered, we tried to find the Air France helpdesk. The check-in counter was at L42 which was on the opposite side of our flight.
When we got to the counter, the agent told me that they had issues with my ticket. Apparently, Air France canceled my airplane ticket because I bought the ticket the day before my flight. That is just outrageous to me. I had to repurchase my ticket for about €40 more just minutes before my flight.
The flight on Air France was pretty basic. The plane was older and had no TV or entertainment on the 3 hour and 20 minute flight. This was fine since it allowed me to sleep for a couple more hours. On the flight, they offered cheese and tomato sandwiches, cookies, and beverages. The cookies were to die for! We arrived in Marrakesh shortly after 3:30pm.
Covid Measures in Marrakesh (RAK) Airport
As of March 2022, you will need to complete a health form, provide a valid covid vaccination card, and a negative PCR test. Upon arrival, passengers had to hand over a health form. The health form can be printed online and filled. On our flight, a flight attendant went around and handed the health forms too. Once we provided the agents our completed forms, we proceeded to the vaccination and PCR test screening. Basically, you will stand in an unorganized line and show a person your vaccination and negative PCR test. My friend was slow at providing her neg PCR test that they just flagged her in. It just depends on the agent you have. Some may be strict while others are more lenient. This process was quick as they do not look closely at the documents. From there, you will enter a room where you can get cash through the exchange rate booth, purchase sim cards, a few washrooms, and other information desks. We proceeded to the bag scanner to clear customs. After leaving customs, we saw a few ATMs on the far right side of the airport.
Unlike most airports, drivers are holding signs outside of the airport. The driver will typically hold the name of the hotel if you do not see your name anywhere. We found our hotel name. The drive to our riad was about 15 minutes from the airport.
Where to Stay:
Riad Luciano Hotel and Spa
Derb Tizougarine 69 Dar el Bacha – Medina, Medina, 40000 Marrakesh, Morocco
Riad Luciano Hotel and Spa was a fantastic introduction to Moroccan hospitality. The Riad offered an airport pickup for an extra fee. The Riad is not located on the main street where vehicles can drive through. The driver called the hotel and had a worker meet at the vehicle and he carried all of our stuff on the way to the Riad. Upon arrival, all the staff stood around to greet us. The receptionist, Aibtisama escorted us to the sitting area while she skirted to the kitchen to bring out Moroccan mint tea and some biscuits. While we sat, the receptionist had us sign some tourism documents required by the country. As we were relaxing in the lobby, the manager, Driss introduced himself and shared that we were being upgraded to the best suite in the Riad. He shared that there were some issues with our room but did not specify the problem. We were so thrilled to see our room, so Aibtisama took us around for a brief tour of the facility including a wonderful rooftop and a tour of our room. Our room was massive including a walk-in closet, a balcony, his and her sinks, and flower petals were left throughout the room. We paid €95 for the day and it included a lovely breakfast.
1. Kutubiyya Mosque
The Kutubiyya Mosque is the largest mosque in Marrakesh and located just a few blocks from our Riad within the medina quarter. When we arrived at the mosque, the prayer call was going on. We saw many locals migrated to the mosque for prayer.
Time Spent: 30 mins
2. Marrakesh Medina
We walked through the Medina on the way to dinner. There were many vendors selling food, clothes, and Morrocan trinkets. The medina is where shoppers go to haggle for the best prices on goods. I’ve been told that the best way to bargain is to take the asking price and slice it by half. I’m terrible at haggling. After dinner, we walked through the medina and got lost for two hours. The passageways are all closed by locked gates at night. It does get scary at night. We were told by locals not to talk to anybody on the street if we were lost and to ask people in the stores. We were provided directions several times but it is hard to follow when the clerks say to go straight but there are multiple alleyways. We later found out that you should never walk deep into the medina after sunset. Lesson learned!
Time Spent: 3 hour
Where to Eat:
Dinner: Le Salama
→ 40 Rue des Banques, Marrakech 40000, Morocco
Le Salama is a high-end touristy skybar restaurant with fantastic panoramic views. The food is mediocre but the ambiance is to die for. We ordered beef kabob (200mad), mini margarita pizza (60mad), mini veggie tajine (50mad), bottled water (50mad), framboise mojito (130mad), rossini (150mad). We ordered a lot but did not eat it all. The best part of the restaurant was the live shows. Throughout the night, dancers will come and dance/interact with the guests.