One weekend in Marrakesh

Brian and I took advantage of the fact that I attended the UXLX Conference in Lisbon with all expenses paid to take a long weekend exploring the country of Morocco. (Flights from Lisbon to Casablanca on TAP Portugal average between $100 and $200 – quite a steal) I arrived in Casablanca on Saturday morning and met B in the airport, where we flew to Marrakesh.

Marrakesh is divided into two parts:

  • The Medina – The historical district
  • The Ville Nouvelle/Gueliz – The new European modern district (this is where you’ll find the McDonald’s and other Western offerings; B read that this is where a lot of the expats live)

However, I would add (even if Lonely Planet doesn’t distinguish) that there is another burgeoning neighborhood that feels very different from the two above (which is where we stayed):

  • Hivernage – The very new, very hip, European part of town

Upon exiting the plane, we immediately bought a (reasonably priced) SIM card for the week, took a cab from the airport to the Sofitel (we negotiated for 60 dirhams – don’t let them tell you otherwise), and ate dinner at a lovely restaurant called Table du Marche (confession: we loved it so much we ended up eating there Sunday night too).

Both nights, we also ended up back at our hotel at the Lawrence Bar, a charming piano bar steps from our room that feels like the idyllic Morocco of the movies:

We spent several hours walking on Sunday through the medina — a frenetic experience. Eventually, we ended up at Jma Al Fnaa Square (where a persistent man convinced Brian to hold a monkey). After a day exploring, we ended up back at the pool:

On Monday, we took the train (located in Gueliz) to Casablanca’s station called Voyageur. That night, we played tourist and went to Rick’s Cafe. What’s funny is expected a Planet Hollywoodesque recreation — but no.

Ricks Cafe Marrakesh

Rick’s feels genuinely like you’ve been transported back to the 1940s cafe.

We again stayed in the Casablanca Sofitel, and flew back to JFK on Tuesday. It was a pleasurable weekend away, but left me wishing we’d had more time to make a real adventure out of it. (Top of the wish list: I absolutely would’ve paid a visit to Ouarzazate for the experience to ride a camel through the Sahara.)

Credit Cards, Accounts, and Other Tips

As a personal finance nerd who is always in search of a bargain and spends her free time reading NerdWallet and PointsGuy (and who may or may not have shed a few tears when Suze Orman went off the air), I’m happy to share some of my findings. Add your own tips and thoughts in the comments …

France, Switzerland, Austria, Slovakia, Italy, WHEW!

Brian and I seem to have a real thing for the jam-packed itinerary … join us on a recounting of our trek through Europe in June. (Full photos here.)