Lily the International Fashionista’s Diary! #2 - Marrakesh, Morocco
Off I Go!
The day of travelling to Marrakesh arrived with some trepidation on my part, I have never been anywhere on the African continent and worried all night about what to expect and whether I would be able to communicate and find my way around ok. That nervousness was paired with great excitement though for the beginning of my fashionista journey.
I am so glad that Mum and Dad are now encouraging my plans, but Dad’s renditions of “we’re riding on the Marrakesh Express” were starting to drive me mad so it was good to get going. Bless them they dropped me to the airport even though I had a really early flight – I felt like their little girl again and fought not to cry.
Ever since I saw Sex and the City 2 I have wanted to follow Carrie and co to Marrakesh, it just looked so fabulous. (Even though they were supposed to be in Abu Dhabi in the movie, filming actually took place in Morocco). To feed the new-found fashionista inside of me it so happens that those Moroccan slipper-type shoes, called babouches, are having a Vogue ‘in’ moment. The ones made trendy by Céline this year don’t have the curly-up toe like Aladdin’s did, but with prices ranging from 790-1,350 dollars (looking at the exchange rate that’s about £750) I think I will go and have a look at the real thing to see if I like them and how much money I can save. Otherwise my redundancy pay won’t last very long at all and I would rather spend more money on a holiday than a pair of comfy flat shoes!
As a complete aside, talking about exchange rates, the pound has been dropping quite dramatically (I know because when one is a global traveller one has to start watching the financial reports darling!). Apparently it’s a lot to do with the EU referendum that we are all voting in this week. Crazy.
Anyway, on with today’s news: so after a champagne (well, prosecco) brekkie at Gatwick airport, about 5 hours later I arrived in Marrakesh and was so excited to get to my hotel in the Medina. Actually I am staying in a riad which is basically a traditional Moroccan house with a courtyard. it looks really gorgeous - as well as the courtyard it has a pool and Hammam (Turkish bath, never been in one of those before…)
Anyway I am unpacked, freshened up and raring to go. I think today I will see the Ben Youssef Mosque which doesn’t look far on the map and generally get my bearings, then later I might have a swim and sauna at the hotel and try some tagine. At least it gets me out of watching the football!
What a Great Place
I would say my first fashionista trip has been a success, what a wonderful place to begin my story. And surely I get bonus points for giving the Fez hat a miss?
I wasn’t allowed into the mosque (when I checked my guide book again it clearly states no admittance for non-Muslims to any mosques in Marrakesh) but I still enjoyed the surrounding area for about an hour. I have discovered mint tea, grown fond and respectful of the call to prayer, and I LOVED the bustling Jemaâ-el-Fna square with all its wonderful food stalls, entertainment and busy, narrow, souk-filled alleyways stemming off it. I was going to be brave and let a man put a snake around my neck but screamed and ran away when it got too close! And every evening I came back to a nice relaxing drink on the hotel rooftop terrace which has fantastic views of the city. Sigh!
And finally my fashion-item holiday inspiration the babouche. Apparently they have been around for centuries and they are basically an outdoors slipper with pointy toes and no heel. So comfortable, more so than I expected, and I was amazed by the vast array available in the souks – an abundance of colour, some adorned with beads or silk embroidery, as you can see from my holiday snap. The shoes are all hand-stitched and extremely exotic. Slip them on and go. I did feel strangely short after my high-heeled broking days but for day-to-day wear they will be great, and will look fantastic with my crop jeans and maxi dresses. And the best part? After a bit of haggling (I wasn’t brave enough to push it too far) I managed to get the seller down to 60 dirhams, which equates to less than five pounds. I like this Moroccan currency! And my strawberry red sequined babouches are definitely unique. Take that Céline and Vogue!
Did I Save?
I didn’t have to get a taxi to the airport and they are picking me up again so that saves at least £50. I only saved £10 on my flight by coming home a day earlier as I booked it last-minute but every little helps – and returning a day earlier also means I saved another potential £30 on my hotel bill. I haven’t had lunches and hardly any alcohol so that must have saved me around £40. And my new shoes cost me £5 instead of Céline’s £750 so a saving of £745. In total therefore I have saved 875 pounds - add on the airfare and hotel rates and I have still saved almost 630 pounds. GO LILY!
On the downside I’m feeling like an idiot though because I think I made a big mistake getting my currency at the airport Travelex desk – when I checked online to compare prices of the shoes I realised that the exchange rate they gave me at the airport for pound sterling to Moroccan dirham seems very hiked up. Next time I will sort out my currency before I pack my suitcase.
Heading back home tomorrow, I will miss the vibrancy of the ‘Red City’ but I am feeling very upbeat and can’t wait to tell my friends all about my little trip. Plus, of course, the rest of the world awaits me!
(To see Lily’s previous diary entries simply enter ‘lily currency solutions’ on your search engine or visit the Currency Solutions page)