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Take 12 Trips March: A Moroccan mini honeymoon

Moroccan mint tea

As part of my mission to ‘Take 12 Trips’ in 2014, I’m taking at least one trip every month – which can be anything from a local day out to an international trip. After January and February had me bundling on the layers for trips to the north of England, it was time to warm up with my first international trip of the year to Morocco in March. And it wasn’t for just any old trip, it was my honeymoon… well one of them anyway. When it came to planning my wedding last year, the big honeymoon question was probably the toughest decision to make. We had no shortage of ideas for amazing destinations, from Belize to the Maldives. But when it came down to it, I couldn’t quite bring myself to blow the budget on one long-haul luxury trip. So instead we’re stretching it out and having a few mini-honeymoons spread throughout the year. And trip number one took us to Morocco for a week in Essaouira and Marrakech.

Essaouira port at dusk, Morocco

Seagulls gathering in the port at Essaouira

Now I’m normally all about maximising my budget, but that’s not really getting into the spirit of honeymooning. So we threw in a few more luxury touches than normal, like getting private transfers rather than the public bus for the three-hour trip to Essaouira, and starting off with our BA Business Class flight from London to Marrakech. From the separate security clearance and drinks in the lounge to the proper meal and Champagne onboard, it was well worth the splurge. But frugal travel habits die hard, so although we went out in business, we came back in economy. The price difference was too high to justify – plus as we had to drive home from the airport the free bar would’ve been wasted!

The ramparts and cannons in Essaouira, Morocco

Cannons lined up along the Essaouira ramparts

Our first destination was Essaouira, out on Morocco’s Atlantic Coast. I spent a couple of weeks travelling around Morocco a few years back, but stuck to the mountains and deserts so this was new territory to me. A former hippy hangout, Essaouira has kept that laid-back feel. It’s also seriously picturesque, with photo opportunities around every corner. There’s the medina, with its warren of whitewashed buildings with freshly painted blue shutters. Or the ramparts that surround the old town, built of honey coloured stone and lined with cannons. It’s not just a tourist town though, there’s a big shipbuilding and fishing industry that keeps the port area buzzing with activity. Flocks of seagulls swoop around the bright blue fishing boats as they come in in the evenings. Then beyond the port there’s a wide sandy beach which arches around the bay. But it’s not a spot for sunbathing – the ferocious winds along the coast mean that more likely to find people windsurfing or kite-surfing.

The Djemaa El Fna main square in Marrakech, Morocco

The Djemaa El Fna main square in Marrakech

After four days we reluctantly tore ourselves away from Essaouira to head back to Marrakech. Morocco’s biggest city was a shock to the system after the gentle pace of Essaouira. We stayed in a traditional riad in the north of the medina, surrounded by the souks. Inside it was as quiet as a museum, but as soon as you stepped out of the door you were overwhelmed by chaos – motorbikes speeding through narrow streets, stallholders trying to tempt you inside, piles of rubbish on the streets, a constant flow of young men offering directions (via their friend’s shop of course). And that’s before you even get to to the heart of it all, the Djemma El Fna square, where you run a gauntlet of snake charmers, musicians and henna tattoo ladies. There are quiet places you can escape though, like the mosque gardens or the roof terraces high above the streets, where you can relax and breathe for a moment before plunging back into the madness.

Koutoubia Mosque, Marrakech, Morocco

The peaceful gardens around Marrakech’s Koutoubia Mosque

I have lots of posts coming up on where to stay and what to do in Essaouira and Marrakech over the next few weeks. You can also check out what the other Take 12 Trippers got up to in March here. In April I’ll be sticking closer to home again, with two trips to my old home city London where I plan to do all the tourist things I never did when I lived there! Are you taking part in the #Take12Trips challenge?

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41 Comments Post a comment
  1. What a fabulous place for a honeymoon!!! So romantic!

    March 24, 2014
    • Thanks Andi, it was a fantastic trip – the riad in Essaouira especially was just lovely, I’m already planning to go back (and have a full review coming up later this week!).

      March 24, 2014
  2. I love the idea of the ‘Take 12 Trips’ challenge! I think it’s a great idea to make an effort to explore closer to home as well as farther afield, like you’re doing. It’s something I’m definitely trying to do more of this year 🙂

    March 24, 2014
    • It’s great isn’t it? Makes you really think about incorporating travel into your everyday life, even where you’re not going on an overseas trips there are so many places to see near to home. Look forward to seeing how you get on!

      March 24, 2014
  3. It all looks so dreamy, what a lovely way to ‘mini’ honeymoon!

    March 24, 2014
    • Thanks Naomi, it was just long enough to feel like we properly relaxed and unwound. Will have to get planning mini honeymoon no 2 soon!

      March 24, 2014
  4. I’ve just come back from a trip to Marrakech as well, it’ll be interesting to hear your views on it! I hope you had a lovely time on your honeymoon. Also looking forward to the London post as a Londoner myself – I’ll spend the time trying to guess what your favourite tourist attractions are as it’s always a hot topic among my friends!

    March 24, 2014
    • I think I’m still processing Marrakech! It’s quite a place, and was such a contrast to Essaouira. Had a great trip though thanks, hope you did too. I’m looking forward to being a tourist in London too – I lived there for ten years and hardly ever did any of the big ‘sights’ so it’s about time I did!

      March 24, 2014
  5. Looks lovely – did Morocco beat your last minimoon in Cornwall?

    March 24, 2014
    • The weather was definitely a lot better this time – I do love Cornwall but 20 degree temps all year like Essaouira has would be a bonus!

      March 24, 2014
  6. I love this idea of mini honeymoons! There are too many beautiful places in the world to only visit one.

    March 24, 2014
    • That’s what we thought! I just couldn’t commit to only one place when I knew we could use the same amount of holiday time and money to see a few more.

      March 25, 2014
  7. What a great idea! A few mini honeymoons will be so much more fun. This was a great one. Fab pictures!

    March 25, 2014
    • Thanks Darlene – yes it’s nice to stretch out the wedding celebrations over the whole year too!

      March 25, 2014
  8. Lucky you. I am also going to Amritsar this weekend.

    March 25, 2014
    • Amritsar sounds lovely too – hope you have a great trip!

      March 25, 2014
  9. Beautiful photos, especially the one of the seagull!

    March 25, 2014
    • Thanks so much – I’m still going through all the photos I took, it’s such a photogenic place!

      March 25, 2014
  10. I am envious Lucy I must admit. Morocco is so close to where I live in Spain yet I still haven’t been. I’m thinking 2 weeks in June/July though. Do you think it’s ideal for solo travel?

    March 25, 2014
    • It’s very easy from Spain – last time I did the ferry from Algeciras to Tangier then the train down to Fez and Marrakech. June/July might be pretty hot but you’re probably more used to it being in Spain, and Essaouira is lovely in the middle of summer as the coastal breeze keeps the temps down. There’s quite a few backpackers so it should be fine for solo travel – as a guy anyway, not sure I’d want to travel on my own there as a woman!

      March 25, 2014
  11. Love the idea of 12 trips a year. I have heard frequently that Morocco is really nice. Hope you enjoyed your partner as well in those beautiful surroundings.

    March 25, 2014
    • I’m really enjoying the Take 12 Trips challenge, it pushes you to see things as a traveller even if you’re staying at home. Morocco was a lovely start to the spring travels too and very relaxing!

      March 25, 2014
  12. Beautiful photos! 🙂 Morocco has always been one of those destinations where I’m dying to visit but they’re oh-so-pricy (well, only getting there is expensive, I suppose)

    March 25, 2014
    • Getting there is a bit expensive compared to European destinations but once you get there is definitely doable on a budget – there’s great street food and accommodation is reasonable too.

      March 25, 2014
  13. So picturesque! Looks like the perfect place for a mini-moon. 🙂

    March 25, 2014
    • It was lovely thanks – so nice to get some sun away from the English winter and such beautiful surroundings.

      March 25, 2014
  14. amazing!

    March 26, 2014
  15. I love the idea of mini honeymoons throughout the year! I am going to have to adopt the idea when I get hitched! Awesome as always!

    March 26, 2014
    • Thanks, it’s been a good way to make the celebrations last and avoid that post-wedding anticlimax!

      March 26, 2014
  16. This is such a great idea of having a mini-honeymoon instead of the huge big one. I wish I thought of that! We had a huge castle wedding in Germany and then my mother-in-law passed away a month later so we never got to go on honeymoon at the time. Instead, we’re going to Asia this summer which is going to be fabulous of course, but son is coming along too LOL!
    P.S. I love your photos and can’t wait to read more. 🙂

    April 2, 2014
    • Thank you – yes we thought it was a good way to stretch out the wedding celebrations for as long as possible (and I could never narrow it down to just one destination!). Asia sounds great though, I love that part of the world, hope you have a fabulous trip.

      April 2, 2014
    • Thanks so much Lucy!

      April 3, 2014
  17. Love this idea of mini honeymoons! I have been wanting to go to Morocco for soooo long. Turns out they don’t have visa service in HK and the damn embassy in BJ refuses to answer my emails 😦

    April 3, 2014
    • That’s a shame – hope you manage to get it sorted out somehow and to make the trip!

      April 3, 2014
  18. What a nice post! Morocco is first on my list, and I hope I’ll end up going there sometime in October or November. Subscribe to my blog if youre interested in travel!

    Ruby 🙂
    http://roamingruby.wordpress.com

    April 5, 2014
    • Thanks Ruby, it’s a really fascinating place to visit – hope you get to visit sometime, and best of luck with your blog!

      April 6, 2014
  19. I love the idea of taking a few mini-honeymoons! I’ve always wanted to visit Essaouira, it looks like such a fabulous contrast to Marrakech. Beautiful photos 🙂

    April 6, 2014
    • We just couldn’t narrow it down to one destination so this seemed like a good way to have a few trips! Just need to decide on the next one now…

      April 6, 2014
  20. I have yet to go to Morocco, but I would love to explore this country one day! I love the idea of mini-honeymoons. Take the pressure of making one big perfect trip, and extend the fun! 🙂

    April 21, 2014
    • That’s exactly what we thought – it makes the celebrations last so much longer! Morocco was a great start too, it’s a really fascinating country.

      April 22, 2014

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