After yesterday’s busy day we’re going to mostly stay in and enjoy a slower (ha) paced day in Marrakech. There really is no such thing as a “slow-paced” day in the city. But, we’ll try.
Does anyone else love traveling to places and really getting into the culture? I’m talking music, dancing, FOODS, places of worship etc. If that’s you, you’ll definitely have some fun today because we are going to experience some Moroccan traditions and hopefully learn a thing or two to take back home!
So, take off your shy pants today because it’s all about the
cooking class and a bath….?
A cooking class & a hammam
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Written by: Stephanie
Cooking class at Riad Dar Attajmil
The day starts with a cooking class at Riad Dar Attajmil! Gather down in the courtyard and meet anyone else who is taking the class. We were in a group with another young couple from Austria.
Shopping in Marrakech’s street markets
After everyone has agreed on an appetizer and a main dish, you’ll get with your guide and head out to the market to buy the ingredients. The market in Marrakech is not at all what I was expecting. And I would only loosely call it a market.
It is basically just like the souks- long winding alleyways with shops haphazardly set up any and everywhere. Especially watch your feet here for the scooters and donkey carts, they run rampant and never show any sign of slowing down, let alone stopping. In the market, you’ll find the most bizarre assortment of stuff. Like, one shop will be a barber and the next one will be selling raw meat and across the way, you’ll find used Japanese kitchen appliances. Like…what?
Find the herb and vegetable man and pick out what you need. Your guide carries a list and will assign a vegetable to each person. Someone will get 2kg of carrots, another will get 1 kg of squash etc. The owner of the stall then weighs the vegetables against his counterweights, and some bickering over price/quality will occur, it is Marrakech after all.
Then go pick up your meat. Fair warning, the meat stalls are certainly not for the faint of heart. I’ll spare you the details, but the shop owner will process live chickens RIGHT. THERE. ON. DEMAND. We did not take a living chicken, but I’m a thousand percent certain the ones on the counter were alive that morning.
Head down the road a little bit and pick up some spices. We didn’t visit the true spice market, but I still imagine wandering through with the scents of saffron and ras el hanout hanging in the air.
Related: How to spend a week in Morocco
Don’t forget to take a picture!
Related: 33 epic reasons to visit Morocco!
Let’s get cookin’, good lookin’
Back at the riad, you’ll join Fatima in her kitchen…
…and learn how to chop vegetables for the briouates and clean the chicken. I swear those onions still haunt me. Never have I ever in my entire life cried so much because of an onion. I had to LEAVE the kitchen for about 15 minutes because I couldn’t see through the tears, haha.
Cleaning the chicken is pretty neat – it is first rubbed with salt and after sitting for a bit, doused with lemon juice. The chicken pieces are then rinsed with warm water, then all the nasty bits are pulled off. I didn’t think this would actually clean the chicken, but it definitely did. Cool tip, bro.
Eventually, you’ll mosey up to the roof and start cooking the chicken.
And then, make the briouates…
After an hour or two, relax at a table on the rooftop and enjoy the fruits of your labor.
After the cooking class go ahead and get ready for another traditional experience- the hammam!
Hammam at Riad Dar Attajmil
Marrakech offers a variety of hammam treatments from the super classy spa at La Mamounia all the way to the traditional public hammams scattered throughout the city. Pete and I both booked the traditional savonnage, gommage, and mask treatment for 25 euros. The hammam at the riad is very simple and located on the rooftop. There is only one bath stall and Pete was called first, so I lounged around reading for about 45 minutes. When he was finished all he could say to my thousand questions was “just go with it.”
To begin with, the hammam treatments are done by the riad staff that you’ve come to know and love. So it was a bit of a shock having Fatima, the lady who just cooked with me, bathe me.
Upon opening the main door there is a small seating area where you will be asked to remove all your clothing. I had read on other sites that you should wear a bikini and at most would be asked to remove your top. I did choose to leave my bikini bottoms on, however. After that period of awkwardness has passed you enter through another opening into the actual bath area.
What did I just agree to
The bath area has a large stone bench with what feels and looks like a yoga mat on top. There are some small candles scattered around, a couple buckets, and then a large well off to the side. Fatima asked me to lay down, face up on the bench. She began pulling water from the well which had very hot water and mixing it into smaller buckets of colder water. She then began dumping that all over my body.
This went on for some time and then the thick black exfoliating soap comes out. After a very thorough scrub down she starts rinsing the water off. Halfway through the rinse she grabs my bikini bottoms and pulls them off while laughing and saying “sorry.” She wasn’t sorry.
After the rinse, she rubbed some oil over my skin and into my hair. She then bent my legs at the knee and pressed my thigh into my chest to stretch my hamstrings. It was excruciatingly hot in the room at that point so the stretch felt incredible, but I was in a very compromising position, so there’s that.
Once it is complete, dry off and meet Fatima in the sitting area. She then gives you slippers and a huge terrycloth pullover robe and you go along your merry way.
I ended up actually really loving the hammam and wanted to do another one. Pete – not so much. He likes to say that it is the most intimate he’s ever been with a 70-year-old man. I would have liked to try out a hammam at a fancy spa, like La Mamounia. However, I think to get the true Moroccan experience you gotta go to a smaller one.
Take some time to relax, then get ready for dinner at Nomad! If you want to experience a hammam for yourself, check out Riad Dar Attajmil here!
Related: The most amazing sights of Marrakech
Nomad is a top rated and highly popular tourist hang out in Marrakech and it is for good reason. We made reservations the day before and I would recommend doing the same. The traditional dining times were very busy with long waits. Nomad is pretty close to the
Nomad is super chic, overlooks part of the souks and is full of young people.
We were seated on the rooftop pretty close to the corner. The atmosphere of nomad was wonderful. Nice music was playing in the background, it was cool and breezy, and everyone there was having a good time.
The service sucked, and the tables were a bit cramped but we’d learned by now that both of those were pretty typical of Moroccan restaurants. Though once we finally received our food it was very good. We started with a lentil, beet, tomato, and cheese salad.
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Pete had the nomad couscous which is braised beef with spices and lemon over vegetables and couscous. I had the lamb chops with were served with spiced potatoes, ratatouille, and harissa.
For dessert, we had the saffron-scented date cake with whipped cream and salted caramel sauce. I would love to eat all of that again and would recommend those dishes to anyone.
We were under the impression Nomad served alcohol, but they do not. We wanted to hang out somewhere and have a cocktail so we ventured over to the bar at La Mamounia.
This hotel was absolutely stunning and over the top luxurious. It took us about 3-5 minutes to walk to the cocktail bar at the back of the hotel. The doors are all manned by men in capes, which is kinda cool. There are beautiful gardens to walk through and tons of things to stop and take pictures of.
We were by far the youngest people we saw in the hotel. It would have been nice to stay for a night just to luxuriate. I wouldn’t recommend spending your whole stay here as it is so fancy and not at all like typical Morocco. Plus, riads are WAY more fun.
Once at the bar, find a comfy place to hang out and look at the drink menu. Beware that the drinks are tremendously overpriced. I’m pretty sure they all started around 15-16 euros. But, alcohol isn’t easily obtainable so ya know when in Rome.
When you’re finished, head back home to the riad because tomorrow is the last day in Marrakech!
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Founder of Packing for Plenty in July 2017. Along with her husband, Pete, she is on a mission to visit most countries. And wants to take y’all along as well! On PFP Steff provides travel itineraries ranging from a weekend trip nearby to 2 weeks living abroad like a local…detailed destination specific travel tips that aren’t readily available elsewhere…and unique and interesting bucket list worthy experiences.