Marrakesh has been on my wish list for well over a year. Or maybe even two. But this year, it all kind of came together, unexpectedly and completely last minute. And it has been an amazing, busy, sandy and fragrant adventure. Wish I could bottle the unique smell of rose petals, orange blossom and camel for you guys… but these pictures are gonna have to do. Sorry.
I stayed at the Dar Ayniwen hotel, nested in the Palmeraie district – a huge field of palm trees, as far as the eye can see. This place was a real oasis of calm, and the perfect place to unwind and get away from the busy and loud Marrakesh Medina. Whereas everything out there was busy, chaotic and often late due to being stuck behind a donkey cart, within the walls of Dar Ayniwen I could just slow down, relax and enjoy the beauty of Morocco and the two hectares of grounds filled with exotic birds, rose petals and the smell of orange blossom.
Every trip I do, I am busier, I push myself harder, see more, do more and bring back an even bigger stack of adventure travel shots each time. This was coupled with the waking nightmare that was my two flights with Vueling (more on that later, but Andy has the Cliff Notes version here). So Dar Ayniwen was a hotel match made in heaven.
Every night I got to stay at a different suite and explore the unique hidden gems that each suite offers. A private terrace, a secluded courtyard with a four poster bed for a relaxing afternoon read in the shade, an ornate carved swing, a view of the grounds and the Palmeraie from the balcony or a private jacuzzi. And every day I got to eat my body weight in local cuisine. If you are as much of a newb to Moroccan food as I am, I recommend trying the tagine. I ate my way through a good chunk of the Dar Ayniwen menu. And loved all of it. This never happens. I am a picky eater and I am all about eating right. Their food is fresh, it’s tasty and it’s healthy. I still dream about the quail tagine with plum stuffing. And I mean that very literally. I now have quail tagine cravings. Even in my sleep.
Mariko form Silk and Suits and I grabbed our bags and hopped on board. Mine was a lot bigger than hers, stuffed with clothes for shoots, camera equipment and backup outfits because I can’t help being a contingency planner. Epic error. Should have packed everything in my carry-on and worn my laptop as a necklace to save space. Long story short: Vueling, the airline we flew with lost all my luggage.
We landed in Marrakesh, after a long layover in Barcelona, where we nearly didn’t get on our flight because the airline overbooked it. We literally had to argue our way onto the plane. In Spanish. Because the next available flight wasn’t till 24 hours later. Two flights and one really rough landing later, we finally hit the tarmac at our destination. When we got to Marrakesh, not only was my luggage not there, the lost luggage department couldn’t tell me where it was, or if I was ever going to see it again. By that point it was very late, the only open shop was the little pharmacy, where I picked up a toothbrush, some very gone-off sunscreen, a hair brush and contact lens solution (in hopes of making my dailies last me a little longer). My biggest worry though was pulling off a bunch of blog posts with only one memory card, no laptop, camera or phone charger, no clothes and a very unhelpful – 3.0 eye sight.
But a twenty minute drive later, every single worry I had completely melted away, the moment I stepped out of the car and onto the fragrant grounds of the Dar Ayniwen hotel. Everything smelled like heaven. Apparently heaven smells like orange blossoms and jasmine, covered in rose petals. Then we saw our first suite, with a living room, two bathrooms, a private jacuzzi and more rose petals. Everywhere. I soaked away the airline horrors in a mosaic bath tub filled with Moroccan rose and mint bubbles, wrapped myself up in the the fluffy white robe and was out in thirty seconds flat.
I am wearing head to toe H&M in this post, courtesy of Vueling losing all my luggage. But even here, Dar Ayniwen managed to save the day. First thing in the morning the hotel driver took me into town to stock up on all the holiday essentials, like underwear, deodorant and slippers.