An afternoon at a Hammam

Yesterday was a day of relaxation. So relaxing in fact, that I didn’t have the energy to blog. 🙂

Marrakech is such a fast paced, crazy city that really makes New York look like a small village. And trying to negotiate it’s crazy streets (with motorbikes looking to run you over at every turn and hawkers trying to guess if you’re Japanese or Chinese) can wear you down. That, and we had just taken our “death march” the day before. So Pat and I decided to stay in yesterday and do absolutely nothing. We had breakfast on the roof, and spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon playing on our iPads.

Then, in the late afternoon, we reserved a visit to a hammam. A hammam is the Moroccan version of the Turkish bath, and very integral to the Moroccan culture. No photos here, obviously, so I’ll try to paint a picture with words…

First, we entered into what looked like a slate steam room. Then 2 women grabbed buckets of warm water and proceeded to douse us with it. Next, they took black eucalyptus soap and gave us a scrub down. Then, we were told to lie down in the steam room for about 10-15 minutes or so. When it just got to be almost too hot in there, they came back with an exfoliating sponge or something like that and gave us another scrub down. I felt all my skin had been scrubbed right off! Then another 2 bucket dousing and then some more alone time in the hammam, this time sitting with our feet in rose-petal water. After that, the 2 women returned again, started to shampoo our hair and then made us step into a shower. It was a very interesting experience – I don’t know if that part of it was necessarily relaxing, but at least I could say I did it.

The part after that was very relaxing though. We’re then led into a room with recliner chairs. Another woman puts cool towels on our foreheads (I guess to cool us down from the hot hammam), gives us Mint tea, and then yet another woman proceeds to give us a brief foot massage. Finally, we head into private rooms for a 60 minute massage. I felt the stress of travel just melt away. It was absolutely lovely. Unfortunately, then we had to navigate the crazy streets of Morocco just to get back to our Riad. If only I could have been carried back… But we saw another part of Marrakech that we hadn’t seen before, including this mosque, currently undergoing renovation.

Speaking of mosques, several times throughout the day there are loud PA calls that can be heard throughout the city (no matter where you are) that call the people to prayer. Apparently 98% of the people are Muslim here

As a perfect ending to a relaxing day, we decided to pre-arrange to have dinner at our Riad. One of the workers here, Cadija, happens to also be a great cook, so she made dinner for us on the roof-top. It was wonderful to have a “home-cooked” meal and the best meal I’ve had in Marrakech by far! We started with a Moroccan salad (the only one I’ve felt was safe enough to eat here), a potato salad type dish (without the mayo), and cheese baked into filo dough. Then, the main attraction, a beef and prune tagine. I normally don’t like sweet entrees, but this was the perfect amount of sweetness (not too sweet), and the beef just melted to pieces in our mouth. Absolutely delicious!

Boo and Lotso look a little envious of our tagine

Then for dessert, a baked apple soaked with anise, cardamom, and mint…


Finally, as a night cap, Mint tea and a couple of petit cookies, which took enough fortitude just to finish. This dinner, combined with perfect Marrakech weather on the rooftop (not too hot, not too cold), made it a perfect night. Thankfully, we only had a negotiate one flight of stairs back down to our room. If I could, I would have rolled down…

This Riad (Riad Argan) just has been absolutely lovely. I’m writing this right now on a terrace right outside our room, looking over onto the indoor courtyard. Maybe that’s why we haven’t minded spending so much time here. Yesterday, when we asked our hostess, Francoise, what time checkout was, she asked us what time we were leaving. We said that it wasn’t until 9 in the evening and we would understand if she would want us to check out earlier. She checked her calendar, said that there doesn’t happen to be anyone staying in our room tonight, and is letting us stay here until our ride comes to take us to the airport. As a result, we can have a relaxing day instead of rushing to pack and check out. I love it here!

Next Stop: Barcelona!

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