Marrakech, Morocco

Have I died and gone to heaven? Possibly. The temperature is around 75 degrees as we enter the most beautiful hotel I have set my foot in. The La Mamounia is so very grand, elegant and simply breathtaking. Everything about this hotel is top of the line from the service to the decor. There are three dining restaurants on site. The romance of this hotel makes you not want to wonder outside the grounds. Of course, that did not happen.

After a breakfast buffet of unimaginable choices, we split into two groups. One group on a Atlas Mountain excursion and the other On a Marrakech Excursion. First stop is the largest mosque in Marrakech, the Koutoubia Mosque, a beautifully exquisite mosque. Our excursion group took a fabulous photo at the gardens alongside the mosque.

One thing to try once then try to avoid is getting a photo with a water seller, this will cost you about a dollar. Expect to be asked many times again for a photo or other requests by the vendors in Marrakech as our money is their living. Historically the water vendors supplied weary travelers with water.

Next we toured the artisan section of the souk, it was divine, colorful and a twisted maze of goods. Spices, pointed shoes, leather goods and unique metal work crafts abound everywhere. The talent of the crafters are amazing and it is a unique experience to bargain with shop keepers. Full price is never the end price.

The Bahia Palace was a wonderful tour of history and design. The vast marble inlaid patio was exquisite. The deeper you venture through the palace the more magnificent and quaint it becomes. Gardens, architecture and marble carvings made the history of the palace come alive.

At the end of the afternoon the Djemaa El Fna square comes alive with vendors, snake charmers and local flavor. As you step past a cobra being put into a trance by a snake charmer, you realize you are in a different world. I couldn’t resist the chance to get a henna tattoo from one of the many local women. Remember to bargain everything and walk away if you think you have paid enough and they still want more. Realize there is a language barrier. If you feel threatened say you want the police and this will usually fix things fast.

The last night featured a lovely gala in the grand ballroom. The cocktail hour consisted of special thanks from all the travelers to the wonderful staff who made this around the world journey possible. Dinner was amazing full of wisdom and insight from our voyage experts, along with an amazing photo presentation documenting our travels from day one. It was a spectacular night and the grand finally to the trip of a lifetime. A night I will never forget. A bittersweet goodbye to our ATW family.

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