Week One Recap…Marrakech

Normally, a week flies by when we are traveling abroad, but for some reason, this past week in Marrakech has seemed to crawl by. If I weren’t keeping track, honestly, I would tell you we have been here at least two weeks, if not more. It’s hard to explain, but I will try…

We arrived late evening last Tuesday. We checked in to our home for over 5 weeks – The Riad El Sagaya. It’s lovely, yes. Well located right inside the walls of the medina, our hosts are kind and helpful, the breakfasts are nice, and the price was very affordable.

It’s not what we booked, however…and that has made the week a bit difficult.

Since we planned to be working and studying from our home here, we booked a large room with a seating area, large bed, large bathroom. What we stay in is NOT that. Our room is very small, in fact, barely enough room to walk around the bed. There is no area to sit, to read, to do anything other than lay in the bed. The bathroom is also small – there is no room at all to put any of our things, and when you are traveling for over a month at a time, you have THINGS. We booked a room we felt we could LIVE in, and, after seeing all of the other rooms here at the Riad – we definitely could have lived here. This room just doesn’t work – neither of us sleep well, which sucks, but the biggest problem is the space. Being the only two people speaking English to one another, traveling alone, and then being cramped into a tiny space all at the same time just isn’t fun, and it’s making both of us cranky and snappy at one another sometimes. Plus, it just isn’t what we booked and paid for. I feel there is no excuse for that.

We have tried to work it our with our hosts, but they are unable or unwilling to move us into the larger rooms – I can only assume because they know they can rent the larger rooms for more money – so we have resorted to getting Airbnb involved. I do love Airbnb, I have used them for years and even rented out our own house through them for a bit. Professional and helpful, and we hope to hear back soon as to what the new plan is…most likely a refund for the days we will not be staying here…or at least we hope that’s the case. While we had originally intended to stay put here in Marrakech until November – well, thanks to the discomfort here at the Riad, and the fact that we will need to move anyway, we have JUST booked flights back to mainland Europe on the 12th. Rusty has found us a gorgeous little apartment in historic downtown Budapest, so we will be there for at least a week! After that, the plan is up in the air, but the idea is to get to Umbria in Italy where there is a week long chocolate festival taking place.

A week.

Of chocolate.

I mean, of course this has to happen.

From there, we were due in Italy on the first of November anyway to catch our cruise, so, it all works out in the wash, I guess.

So…anyway…let’s talk Week One.

I know lots of you like to know what we do and what we eat and more specifically, what it costs. I like reading that kind of thing, too – but it seems no one wants to tell you what they actually pay. Not me…I’ll tell you!


Private car pick up from Airport to Riad – $18

We didn’t eat anything, we were beyond tired and just went to sleep!

Total Expenses: $18


Breakfast at Riad – free. They serve Moroccan pancakes and bread, coffee, and hot tea each morning, included in our stay.

We wandered in the souks, saw the craziness of the Place Jemaa el Fna, and had dinner overlooking the entire square at The Café du France – our meal was $23, for two Moroccan dishes, bottled water, and a Coke Zero. We also had fresh squeezed juice from the market for $1 each.

On the way back to the Riad we bought a bottled water and Coke Zero – $1

Total Expenses: $26


Breakfast at Riad – free.

Again, we wandered the souks (we got lost for a while!), bought a couple of overpriced trinkets for $20, and settled on dinner in the square from a food vendor. Be warned – this food isn’t fantastic, and the servers purposely confuse you into ordering more than you think you are. We ended up with inedible appetizers of some odd concoctions, skewers of meat (we did order these), bottled water and Coke Zero. Total – $24. Something similar in Thailand would be $5. Yes, really. We read a million reviews of Marrakech and each one mentioned how you MUST eat in the square and it’s so cheap and good and blah blah blah – sorry…no. Go see the square and get the $1 juice. Skip the food. While we were sitting there eating, I even heard the hawker (the guy who lures tourists in through persuasion and antics and bribery) tell one couple they “might as well eat here because it’s all the same shit.

He is 100% right.

The ice cream in the square is great though – two scoops each set us back $5. The raspberry is divine. Just…well, just don’t get it with chocolate mint. Even I knew better but I was still feeling hungry after the “same shit dinner” we had. Live and learn.

Stopped for Pringles to keep on hand in the room – $3.

Total Expenses: $52


Breakfast at Riad – free.

It was a little rainy, so we stayed inside until it was time to find dinner. After the epic Jemaa meal let down, we researched and I found a little Italian restaurant that had great reviews. On our way, we stumbled right into the new Men In Black movie set, where Chris Hemsworth is filming. While we didn’t see him, we did have to stay in the traffic jam of locals and donkeys and motorbikes for about 5 minutes before we could get to where we were going. The restaurant was called Limoni, and it was adorable. The tables are all set in the open courtyard of this Riad, surrounded by lemon-filled trees and Moroccan lamps glistening. The food was really good – we both had pasta. I had a fresh ricotta ravioli with lemon mint sauce (oh my!) and Rusty had Tagliatelle Bolognese. We each had amazing desserts (spendy but worth it!) – he had a molten lava cake, and I had deep fried balls of Nutella that had been coated in coconut. Good God, y’all. I had trouble finishing it, but it was so good, I just had to. Including our bottled water and Coke Zero, the bill was $40. In the US, with tax and tip, this meal would easily have been over $80. So, great value.

Total Expenses: $40


Breakfast at Riad – free.

Saturday was the first day we ventured outside the walls of the medina. I shake my head now, saying this. Of all the articles I read, none told me to go outside the walls. But whyyyy? Outside the walls is a whole other world. More modern. Cafes and shops and great little restaurants everywhere you turn. Sidewalks! Actual sidewalks where you won’t get run over, unlike in the medina. Like I said – new world.

We were too early for dinner at the restaurant I researched online, so we wandered into the best little French café nearby and had some pre-dinner gelato. A big scoop each costs us a total of $3. I had Citron (lemon) and Rust opted for Caramel. His was good, but I always win the gelato contest. The citron was heaven…and at $1.50 with tax and tip? Sign me up.

From the cafe we made it back over to the Italian restaurant I had chosen for dinner, called Catanzaro. It is exactly what you hope an Italian restaurant will be, with beamed ceilings and a huge pizza oven out in the open with chefs nearby making everything by hand. I couldn’t pass up Duck Confit, with a gorgeous caramelized onion and pear sauce, while Rusty chose a Chicken Scallopine. Both were excellent! With water and Coke Zero, the total was a whopping $23…and WORLD’s better than the $24 we spent in Jemaa.

Total Expenses: $26


Breakfast at Riad – free.

On Sunday, we left the Riad super early and went on an excursion into the Atlas Mountains. It was great! We were served tea in a Berber home, and then a wonderful chicken tajine lunch in a hostel overlooking the valley…all included in the price of our excursion. So…Free, because I am lucky, and TripAdvisor was kind enough to pay for several excursions for Rusty and I to go on. I’ll be telling you ALL about this particular excursion in a day or two, so hang tight! (I even made another little video!) At the end of the tour we tipped our driver $7, our only expense of the day. For reference, I believe this tour was about $55 each, had we had to pay out of pocket. Well worth what we got out of it.

Total Expenses: $7


Breakfast at Riad – free.

October first is the anniversary of the day Rusty and I met, so we like to celebrate all the good things. And did we! We opted to ditch the Riad and head outside the walls to Hotel Bab for the night. We checked in to a huge suite, with king sized bed, sitting area, dining area, and a bathroom that was heavenly. A giant soaking tub filled with rose petals (they surprised us with rose petals EVERYWHERE and a nice fruit plate for our “special day”, and a shower, double sinks, and the nicest smelling bath products. Yum! We had a coupon using Booking.com, which saved us $35, so after that, our rate was only about $55!

For lunch we went back to that same little French café we had eaten gelato, and had a couple of big sandwiches, fries, and more gelato – all told $20.

I had been researching like MAD for a stellar dinner option, and let me tell you, I found it. The Comtoir Darna. You need reservations here, and for good reason – you won’t get in the door without one. Men in black suits pull open the double doors and you are whisked into the most Arabic, enchanting, sexy, forbidden, sultry space you can imagine. We were seated at a table for two near the stairs (the best spot to be!) and treated so well. The drinks are expensive (remember, this is a non-drinking city, and if you do drink, expect to pay a premium), but even at $12 and $15 per cocktail, I am telling you, they are worth it. We each had one, and the mixologists know what they are doing.

For dinner, I chose the filet (it cut like butter) and Rusty had the Chicken tajine (wonderful lemony flavor), and we shared mashed potatoes and semolina (like rice). For dessert, we had a melting caramel tart with fresh vanilla ice cream – and they sang us a happy anniversary song. Very thoughtful! All through dinner, live music played, and for much of it, belly dancers shimmied all around our tables with trays of candles perched high on their heads…it was the BEST dinner experience! We tried to guess what a meal exactly like this would cost us in any American city, and after debate, we settled on $350 after taxes and tip. We paid $94.

After dinner (we stayed nearly 2 1/2 hours!), we walked to the Casino and played a little bit. I am pretty nitty, so I only allowed myself to play with $10, lol! Within only about 10 minutes we had won $33, so we decided to just quit and head back to the hotel winners for the night! Also, we had $18 in taxi fares for the night.

Total Expenses: $187 (minus $33!)

That puts us where?

Total Week Expenses: $320

We budgeted $30 a day for food, and we have $60 in the taxi budget, but no money was budgeted for hotels or trinkets. While of course, we expect to buy a few things, we just don’t include those in a budget, we have our own spending money for that. Nothing much! So, this particular week we are over budget by $50. Considering all of that included a swanky hotel room and an impossibly wonderful date night, we are feeling great about it!

Now…we have at least another 12 days here…I’ll try my best to keep you up to date!

Thanks for following along!

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