I'm 22 & This Is How Much My S.O. & I Spent On A Trip To Spain & Morocco

Welcome to Travel Diaries, a Refinery29 series where we tag along as real women embark on trips around the world and track their travel expenses down to the last cent. Here, we offer a detailed, intimate account of when, where, and how our peers spend their vacation days and disposable income: all the meals, adventures, indulgences, setbacks, and surprises.
This week's travel diary: A 22-year-old student goes to Spain and Morocco with her boyfriend to flex her haggling skills and try the best dessert she's ever had.
For questions, feedback, or if you're interested in tracking your travel expenses during an upcoming trip email us at traveldiary@refinery29.com.
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Age: 22
Occupation: Student/Intern
Salary: I make approximately $200-$350 every two weeks during the school year working 8 to 10 hours a week. This summer I’ll be working 40 hours a week, earning $2,400 a month. I also get between $1000-$1,500 a month from my father. I know people will say this is ridiculous but I do use this to pay my rent, bills, and put towards my savings. Also, living in a country away from my father worries him, in terms of having a safety net.
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY
Trip Location: Madrid, Spain and Marrakech, Morocco
Trip Length: 10 days
Annual # Of Vacation Days: Flexible
Travel Companion: Partner, A
Travel Companion's Salary: $110,000
Companion’s # of Vacation Days: 18 days
Transportation
Cost: We flew from JFK to Heathrow and had a scheduled 1-hour layover, and then left Heathrow for Madrid. We left Madrid and flew into Marrakech. From Marrakech we flew into Madrid directly. From Madrid we flew into Gatwick and had a 7-hour layover before arriving back in JFK.
- Round trip flights to Madrid: $1000
- Round trip flights to Marrakech: $210.89
Total: $1,210.89.
Accommodations
Costs: In Madrid we are staying at The Cats Hostel for two nights: $144. In Marrakech, we’re staying at three different riads: The first riad we stayed in for three nights was $211.71. The second riad was $186.96 for two nights. The third riad was $68.30 for one night. Our second time back in Madrid we stayed in the Holiday Inn for one night at $87.
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Total: $697.97
Miscellaneous pre-vacation spending:
- Disposable camera: $15
- Cooking Class: $110
- Airport transfer: $14
Total: $139

Day One

9:00 p.m. (New York time) – After waiting all day for A to get back from work, we order a VIA because Uber was way too expensive from Upper Manhattan to JFK, and taking the subway would be too much of a hassle ($45.80). We get to the airport and the lines at JFK are crazy, but we get through with enough time to spare. I realize that my phone is dying and I downloaded so many podcast episodes for the flight and get super bummed. I debate with myself for a while whether or not to buy a portable charger, and I end up buying it ($40). $85.80
10:45 a.m. (London time) – Land in Heathrow 10 minutes after schedule, and quickly run to try to make our connection to Madrid. The security line is long and then my carry-on gets flagged for extra security. I didn’t know you had to take out concealer and liquid lipsticks?! I get a lovely scolding from U.K. security and miss my connection to Madrid.
11:00 a.m. – We get rebooked on the next flight and also get vouchers for breakfast from British Airways! I stop at Boots to get medicine for my cough, and get super excited to see Panadol. Ever since moving to the states, I don’t take medicine because there’s no Panadol so I’m acting like a kid in a candy store. I get Panadol, cough syrup, and A gets some razors. $16
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11:30 a.m. – We stop at Wagamama to get something to eat before our flight. We share a bowl of ramen and both get two fresh juices. We board our flight and realize we never used the breakfast vouchers. Sad. $22
4:40 p.m. – We finally land in Madrid and as we are walking through security someone shouts my name. It’s an acquaintance from secondary school in Barbados! I swear the world is so small. We do a quick catch up given we are in the security area, and she goes her way. I loved hearing someone with a Bajan accent halfway across the world.
5:30 p.m. – We make it out the airport and decide to use the public transit instead of Uber. We get our tickets for the metro ($18) and I feel like I did something wrong because the price seems a bit high. Then, we have a transfer and have to buy another ticket for the train ($6). Loving the transit system here! Okay, maybe not the price, but I haven’t seen a rat in the subway platform yet so 100 percent better than NYC! $24
6:15 p.m. – We exit the train station and end make our way to our hostel. We end up on the wrong street and see a really nice hotel with reasonable rates. We debate for 20 minutes about if we book a hotel room and forfeit our hostel booking. When we finally decide to book the hotel room the person at the counter tells us there are no rooms available for the second night. Ah well. We head to the hostel and check in.
7:00 p.m. – We head to our six-person dorm room. I just graduated college and I’m immediately transported back. I go to the showers and have to pass through and insane courtyard party in my towel. Freshman year throwback! I meet some women from California in the bathroom because I needed to borrow soap.
7:45 p.m – We head out for dinner and pick a random tapas bar. The food is okay… actually it isn’t that great, but the passion fruit mojito is amazing. $22
9:00 p.m. – We walk around the plaza a little bit and then I remember what I really came to Spain for – churros con chocolate! We go to San Gines which is the oldest and most famous place in Madrid to get churros. The churros are really good, and we get pretty full so we do some more exploring. $5.05
10:00 p.m. – I’m amazed that the sun is now setting! There’s so much daylight over here but I really just want to go to sleep. We walk back to the hostel and I immediately pass out.
Daily Total: $174.85

Day Two

5:30 a.m. – Hello jet lag, my old friend. Ugh. I’m up super early because of jet lag and a nagging dry cough I have. I wake up A to go downstairs with me to find water. The hostel has a water machine that dispenses water for 1 euro (which is actually kind of a rip off) but I need it badly. We sit in the hostel lounge and talk about how loud our roommates were. $1.10
10:15 a.m. – By some miracle we fall asleep and don’t wake up until 10. We get dressed and head over to La Mallorquina which is a Google Maps-recommended breakfast spot nearby. The sun is out and the breeze is still cool — perfect day!
10:30 a.m. – We get seated in La Mallorquina and we order the croissant with Serrano ham, a chocolate doughnut, orange juice, and café con leche. I asked for almond milk but I think I got regular cow’s milk. My belly will hate me later. The meal is really good! $17
11:15 a.m. – We stroll over to the Palais Real and the line is incredibly long and it's a bit pricey. I don’t really want to pay to see my country’s former colonizers’ lavish lives (okay, maybe I do, just a bit) but we decide to admire the architecture from the outside.
12:00 p.m. – We wander further and end up in a really chic neighborhood called La Latina with an abundance of bike shares and scooters. We take some photos and then decide to find the cable cars.
1:45 p.m. – Google Maps literally takes us halfway across Madrid and we still cannot find the cable cars. Instead, we find a dog park and “Nickelodeon World.” I’m pretty tired of walking for hours and we see that we can take the metro close to the cable car company. We take the metro and instead of getting closer to the cable cars, we get closer to Nickelodeon World. Help. Me. $7
3:00 p.m. – After having to hike a literal hill, we find the cable car and purchase tickets ($10). We get on the car and take in amazing views of Madrid. After hiking up, I can’t say it was really worth it. We wander around the neighborhood on the other end of the cable car and get lunch and an outdoor cafe. We order two cocktails, tapas, and some squid ($52). The food isn’t that good, nor were the cocktails, so I’m not the happiest after. $62
5:00 p.m. – We walk over to Gran Via to check out some shopping. I kept seeing this store called Ale Hop with a life sized cow figure, and A kept mentioning it so we check it out. It looks like a Gen Z paradise with pastel colored everything and water bottles with cute quotes on them. We laugh about it but then I buy a net bag that I keep seeing in hip Brooklyn stores for $30, so I’m happy we came in. We continue walking in some stores but I manage to put everything back because I don’t really need any more clothes, but also the lines are insane! We decide to walk back to the hostel for a break. $3
5:50 p.m. – We get back to the hostel and I immediately pass out. A wakes me up to get going again but my cough and migraine are terrible and my body is not functioning enough to keep sightseeing.
9:00 p.m. – I wake up and A just got back from sightseeing solo and I feel like the worst travel companion for sleeping for so long. He assures me that it’s okay and we choose somewhere to go for dinner. Luckily for us, the Spanish don’t start dinners ‘til 9:00 p.m. anyway! I get showered and dressed and we walk over to a Peruvian restaurant. The restaurant is really cute and has a special for $30 per person for three courses and dessert. We order drinks – I get the pisco maracuya (passion fruit pisco) and A gets the pisco sour. Each meal comes out and is beautifully displayed. We get ceviche, chicken in yellow sauce, salted beef, and many other tapas. Dessert is lemon pie and tres leches. We also get serenaded by a guitarist. Were we supposed to tip him or was the part of this experience? I’ll never know. Dinner is great and was the best food we had in Spain! $73
12:00 a.m. – We leave the restaurant exactly at midnight and stroll back to the hostel. We pack for our trip in the morning and head to bed.
Daily Total: $163.10

Day Three

7:30 a.m. – Alarm goes off. Nope. Back to sleep.
8:00 a.m. – Second alarm goes off. We decide more sleep is necessary so we’ll Uber to the airport instead of taking the metro.
9:10 a.m – We realize we didn’t use our breakfast tickets or our drink tickets, so I put the drink tickets on a roommate's bed and we use the breakfast tickets to grab coffee and juice while waiting on the Uber. We check out the hostel. A buys a hostel T-shirt ($6) and we jump in the Uber ($23). $29
10:00 a.m. – Arrive at the airport and head to check in. So glad we don’t have to pay for bags. I didn’t even know I paid for priority tickets. We get checked in and head over to passport control when I notice A’s ticket says London! Ummm, we’re going to Marrakech?! I run back to the counter because I panicked thinking I booked the tickets to the wrong city. Turns out the airline made a (big) mistake and they fix it for us pretty quickly.
10:45 a.m. – I’m impressed and almost soothed by how automated and seamless Madrid’s airport is. Especially compared to JFK (fix it, please!). We walk around the terminal but see nothing interesting to eat, and we remember than A has access to the airport lounge – he’s super ~fancy~. We get to the airport lounge and I’m literally like WOW. Firstly, they have a whole buffet with tropical fruits and cured meats. Then, they have a whole champagne and wine bar?! It is impressive. I stay humble and drink only water for hydration, but next time I’ll definitely be sipping on those bubbles. We eat and chill for a bit, talking about how ridiculous this lounge is.
12:25 p.m. – We start boarding our flight to Marrakech! I get on the plane first and the flight attendant tells me I’m not a priority customer and I’m not allowed a cabin bag. I tell her I am and that even at the check in desk they said I was allowed. She argues with me and a queue begins to form for boarding. She says I can’t take my carry-on on board. I feel really frustrated and then I see A and tell her I’m with him and his boarding pass says priority. She ignores me, not thinking I’m with him. Then, he says something and she asks him to show her proof. *rolls eyes* Anyway, we show her the part where it says allowed TWO cabin bags and she insists it’s not for this flight but she’ll *allow* us to check on in for free. Whatever. I am over her and just want to stop keeping everyone back. We quadruple checked and we were right anyway. I fall asleep for the entire flight.
3:00 p.m. – We get our luggage and head to the exit. We stop first and pick up a free sim card, which telephone companies in Marrakech hand out right before the airport exit, and then walk outside to look for our taxi. Hello Marrakech! After walking around for a while, we can’t find the taxi driver that was supposed to be waiting for us as we booked and pre-paid for an airport transfer through Get Your Guide. We walk outside past the arrivals lounge to try our luck, and after 15 minutes we find him.
3:45 p.m. – We drive through the medina, through incredibly narrow streets, and stop at a random point as the vehicle cannot fit all the way to the street our riad is on. One of the riad managers greets us and guides us to the check in. From outside, it doesn’t look like much. But, as we step in to Riad Les Ammonites, we are instantly transported to a magical oasis! The manager serves us some mint tea and shows us a map of Marrakech. He provides some really helpful tips for exploring the city!
5:30 p.m. – We get settled, showered, take a nap and recover a bit before leaving the riad. We head toward Jamaa Al-Fna, which is the most famous square in Morocco, to find an ATM. To reach there, we walk through the souks, which are the popular shops with Moroccan goods. We expected it to be a terrible experience based on most travel blogs stating that the men were aggressive and unpleasant, but honestly it is no different than street vendors in Manhattan. The difficult part is avoiding the scooters and bikes zooming by.
6:00 p.m. – I start to feel super hungry and I need food NOW. We find a random cafe and we order appetizers, juices, and some mint tea ($20). The price is a bit high, but I figure it is because of the location. We walk back through the souks and I end up in a rug shop with AMAZING rugs and pillow covers. I end up buying a large seat cover ($50), and I don’t know if that is a good deal or not but he quoted $85 so I brought it down low, and he wouldn’t really accept my offer of $40. I vow to check out many stores for the same things before making my purchase. $70
8:15 p.m. – We make our way back to the riad and get ready for dinner. Tonight, we’re having dinner at the riad, just because of convenience because we are super tired, but heard that they have an amazing chef. We sit in the open air courtyard next to the pool and we are served a hot Moroccan salad with potatoes, carrots, zucchini, eggplant, and other veggies to start. Then, they bring the chicken tagine which is a very common Moroccan dish cooked and served in a stoneware pot called a tagine. We have two glasses of red wine to go with dinner. The chicken tagine is AMAZING! We tell the server we will be up by 8 a.m for breakfast and head to bed. The manager got an adaptor for our phones ($4) and it stops working halfway through the night. Very, very sad. $4
Daily Total: $103

Day Four

10 a.m. – We finally roll out of bed and apologize for our lateness. E goes out before me and I quickly shower and look decent for breakfast. I got a hair cut three days ago so my hair is looking amazing. Having natural hair when traveling can be difficult, so I usually do a protective style like braids. The haircut is making everything much easier though! Breakfast is included in our riad so it cuts down significantly on extra costs. I walk out to the courtyard where breakfast is being served and see A and a beautiful husky interacting! We sit and breakfast is a big spread with lots of moroccan breads with jams, jellies, and honey. We also have eggs cooked in a tagine, homemade lime yogurt, and freshly squeezed orange juice. I feel so refreshed and absolutely happy to be here this morning.
12:00 p.m. – We stroll through the souks to make our way to some sights. It’s soooo hot, like 90 degrees. Whew. I’m used to the heat as I grew up in the Caribbean, but the sun in this part of the world is different. We get to Bahia Palace and pay the entrance fees. The palace is gorgeous but so crowded which is annoying because while I’m trying to see things there are other tourists doing photoshoots. Ugh. I take some photos of the architecture and the garden, and eavesdrop on a tour group to learn some history behind the palace. $14
1:36 p.m. – After the palace, we head to Kosy Bar to cool down and hydrate after spending an hour in the heat. We head to the rooftop and I order a virgin mojito and E orders a beer. We also order a giant bottle of water. The waiter brings some complimentary olives for our table, which is sweet. $12
2:30 p.m. – We head to the Saadian Tombs, which were resting grounds for royalty in the 16th century. It feels weird to visit a graveyard, because in Caribbean culture we avoid graveyards, but it’s something that was highly recommended. We pay the entrance fees ($14) and head in. It’s pretty quiet, but beautiful to see how much attention to detail was put into the construction. We watch a short film on the history of the tombs, and take some photos. After we find a taxi to take us to Le Jardin Majorelle ($5). While walking down the street, we see an ice-cream shop, so I get mango sorbet and A gets lime ($5). $24
3:20 p.m. – We pay the entrance fees to Le Jardin Majorelle ($14) and head into the most recommended attraction. It blows my mind honestly. The colors, the garden, the architecture. But… it is super packed. Do not let the Instagram influencers fool you… if you want a picture here, you have to WORK for it. I literally watched two girls spend 15 minutes getting ONE shot in front of a door. People are basically fighting for the perfect photo. After walking around for half an hour, we head into the little cafe for lunch. We order mint tea, lime juice, lemonade and split a meatball and egg tagine. I order the lime juice which was ambitious because it is literally just squeezed lime. ($21). $35
4:40 p.m. – We leave Le Jardin Majorelle. Overall, a solid visit, minus the very annoying and persistent Instagram models. Both our phones are at 20% and our charger stopped working so we walk around for 45 minutes looking for a charger. We finally find a local phone shop and buy two chargers ($20). We get a taxi back to Jamaa El Fnaa ($4) and walk around for a bit. There are so many carts selling freshly-squeezed orange juice so I buy one ($0.40), and then E gets watermelon juice ($1). These prices are superb! $25.40
6:30 p.m. – We walk back to the riad to charge our phones and relax for a bit. We decide to book an ATV experience for tomorrow ($57). We have dinner plans at Nomad Cafe which I really want to go to. When we get to Nomad, it’s super packed but they squeeze us in. No rooftop seating right now though. We order zucchini and goat cheese fritters for appetizers. I order a glass of orange juice because I’m obsessed, and A gets the mint and lemon juice. For my main, I order lamb tagine and A gets the roasted lamb chops with harissa. I like my dish, but A’s is so much better so I keep stealing bites of his. For dessert we order a Moroccan date cake because I saw it on Spirited Pursuit’s Instagram story. She’s an African travel blogger/influencer and I love her recommendations. We also get the affogato. The date cake blows me away. Need it every. Single. Day. We pay the bill ($53) and stroll back to the riad. On our way back, E buys some babouches which are Moroccan slip-ons essentially. We get into a big thing with the shop owner because we really wanted to look around more and he thought it was a tactic for him to lower the prices. We cave and just get them ($11). $121
Daily Total: $231.40

Day Five

8:15 a.m. – We are up and ready for breakfast! Today we have a Moroccan cooking class which A suggested. We walk to Jamaa El Fnaa to our meeting point and we see other tourists so figure we’re in the right place. Our guide finally arrives and then we begin walking to the markets to buy the food for the meal. I’m not feeling particularly well, but it might just be the jetlag. We get a bunch of veggies, spices, mint, and chicken.
9:30 a.m. – We get to the cook’s home and she shows us how to prepare mint tea. I love mint tea. In Morocco it’s more than a drink, but a show of pleasantry and welcoming. After the tea we get all set up with our tagines and begin seasoning our chicken and making the dish. Our meal is amazing! Like, honestly super good, and I can’t believe I made such an amazing dish. We also make orange with cinnamon which is a common Moroccan dessert, and now I have to eat this every day. So good. The cooking class was something I never did before but it was such a good experience. We tip the guide ($10) and rush back to our riad for our next Moroccan experience. $10
2:00 p.m. – After changing quickly, we make our way to Jamaa El Fna to get picked up for our desert ATV and camel experience. We think we found the right company but we specifically asked for an English-speaking guide and he only speaks Arabic and a little French. I fall asleep on the ride there and wake up in the middle of the desert. Everything feels super rushed, and we are put on the ATVs with very minimal instruction. Yikes. I hate operating vehicles so I’m not even sure why this appealed to me so much. We ride for about two hours and every minute of it I am like wtf am I here?! The guide tells me I’m going too slow and to speed it up a bit. My gas tank keeps blinking, other people in the group keep stopping. A whole mess. The whole thing ends, but the French couple in my group are obviously in a massive fight and everything is awkward. A is convinced we’re on the wrong tour group still. We sit and have tea and recover from that weird, long ATV ride. We buy water ($4) and head in the van to the camels. $4
6:05 p.m. – We get to another part of the desert to ride the camels, which seems a little more my pace. They dress us up in traditional wear and give us our camels. The camel ride sucks quite frankly. They smell, it is bumpy, and I feel sorry for the poor things. I spend the whole time just wanting to get off. We take some rushed photos at the end and A talks to a Turkish-German couple who are surprised he knows Turkish. We get back to our riad and lounge around for a bit. I run a travel-inspired Instagram (nothing too big) so I do some videos to show my followers a tour of the place we’re staying at. We sit on the roof and take in the sunset.
9:45 p.m. – We go to Cafe Des Espices for dinner, which I found from Instagram. I’m pretty tired but we gotta eat! We walk up to the rooftop and realize there’s a bit of commotion because a woman passed out from the heat. Yikessss. It takes a while to get seated, but we eventually get a cozy seat in the corner. E gets the beef sandwich and I get a veggie tagine. We order mint tea, as per usual with some sparkling water. For dessert we have orange with cinnamon (ours from cooking class was better, if I do say so myself) and pistachio ice-cream. $24
Daily Total: $38

Day Six

11:00 a.m. – We wake up a little late and get breakfast. While having breakfast, the manager comes to let us know that our taxi to our new riad is here, which I thought A booked for 11:30 but I guess not so we rush our breakfast and get our stuff. We pay our fees at checkout for the taxi ($25) and the dinner ($35). We get to the taxi and make our way to our new riad which is a little bit outside of the city center. A tips the driver ($5). It is out of this world luxurious, like from a movie I swear. We put our suitcases down and lounge by the pool because our room isn’t ready yet. We are immediately greeted by two French bulldogs and a little weiner dog. Sooooo cute! I’m loving all these riad pets. $65
12:27 p.m. – We finally get led to our room which has a balcony overlooking the entire pool area (amazing!) and a bathtub with a window looking over into the lush greenery. Completely calming and inspiring space. I take a long shower and we just lounge around for a bit. I change into my one-piece swimsuit from Aerie which fits perfectly and we head down for a bit of lunch. I order chicken tagine and A gets a Berber chicken sandwich with fries. We also order orange juice and mint tea. We finish up lunch and head to the pool for the rest of the evening.
6:00 p.m. – We decide to have dinner at the riad because it is too expensive to keep ordering a taxi in and out of the city center. I’m a bit disappointed that the lunch and dinner menu are the same, but oh well. I order the meatball sandwich and E gets vegetable tagine. We get red wine as well. We head up to the room and I start coughing so much that I vomit. I take a Zyrtec and immediately knock out.
Daily Total: $65

Day Seven

10:00 a.m. – We wake up super excited for breakfast and when we got down there is nothing… It isn't a personally-served breakfast like the other place but instead some kind of quasi-buffet style thing. The coffee is finished. I get a bit angry and go back to the room.
3:00 p.m. – I wake up so late and feel like I wasted the whole day. A said he spent the day lounging at the pool and read my book My Sister The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Brathwaite, so he finished it before me. I think I was upset and so tired because I never took Zyrtec before and medication and my body do not go well together.
5:34 p.m. – We get a taxi ($20) and head to Nomad Cafe. My first meal of the day is the same spiced roasted lamb chops A had before. A gets the roasted cauliflower. We have orange juice, lemonade, and a large bottle of water. For dessert we have the date cake again! I also get rose, raspberry, and black pepper sorbet with another scoop of almond, argan oil and honey ice-cream. Both are incredibly delicious ($48). $68
6:45 p.m. – We go to a store called Chabi Chic which I found from Spirited Pursuit and we buy a Marrakech t-shirt, two packs of dried mint tea, two pouches of harissa spice, and postcards ($37). We then head to the souks to do some shopping! A gets four basket placemats ($4). I get a lovely basket bag after some bargaining ($12). We walk around some more. A gets a teapot ($40) which I think is way too much, I would've bargained for about half of that. I also get a ring ($13) that was quoted at $40 so I feel good about my bargaining skills. I find a small rug store deep into the souks and see a traditional Berber rug that I really like. The shop owner is really nice and I get the rug and two Moroccan pillowcases ($70). $176
9:15 p.m. – I’m feeling shopped out (and so is my bank account), so we head to the main square to see the night time vibes. It’s quite amazing seeing so many people getting street food or getting henna done. A lady doing henna grabs my arm and attempts to do a design on me without asking and I firmly say no, but she is persistent so we walk to another part of the square. After a while we start to get tired so we head back to get a taxi. $20
Daily Total: $264

Day Eight

9:52 a.m. – We get up and head to the *sad* breakfast which is just fruit and bread. We eat by the poolside, then we pack our suitcases to head to our third and final riad. We lounge around for a while, and then I order a hammam (spa) massage. I wait in the sauna for over an hour and no one comes to do my massage. I’m a bit confused so I head back to the pool area and tell A and he’s a little upset as well. A goes to pay the bill for our food ($52.50) and my “hammam” ($10) . $62.50
3:00 p.m. – We get to our new riad (Riad Origines) and I’m excited to be here because the last one, while super luxurious, was kind of lacking on hospitality and warmth. We order lunch and A and I both order the Berber burger, with orange juice and Fanta. After, we go to the rooftop of the riad which is honestly the best rooftop of all we’ve seen.
5:45 p.m. – We are going to Le Bains de Marrakech which is a traditional hammam spa. We check in and they give us robes and then lead us to a pool where we are served, of course, mint tea. We wait for about 15 minutes and they call us in to the hammam. It’s a dark and steamy sauna, with two older Moroccan women. I take off my clothes (except my bikini bottom). They take buckets of warm water and throw it on us, and apply Moroccan black soap on us. They tell us to lie down and they leave for a bit. I like clear instructions or agendas of what is going to happen and we don't get that so I’m a little uncomfortable, as is A. The woman comes back in and begins to scrub. And I mean scrub. After the scrubbing, the women leave and the steam gets increasingly dense. I’m not sure if we leave when we want to, or if they come back, but I’m finding it difficult to breathe. I look over at A and see he isn’t doing so good either. I think we should wait, to be respectful, but it becomes overbearing and I open the sauna door and run outside. The women come back in laughing and gesture us to the showers. Whew, that was definitely an experience. They take us to some lounge chairs and bring water and tea biscuits. $46.18
7:15 p.m. – We walk out the hammam feeling both refreshed and confused. We look for a taxi and I see a shop selling organic argan oils so I wander in. The shop owner immediately comes up to us and says to follow him upstairs. He seats us down and gives us mint tea (obviously), and quickly brings literally every product he has to have us smell. We end up spending 25 minutes here and buy three bottles of argan oil, and A gets a bunch of spice blends. ($38.17). We finish up at the store, take a taxi ($5) back to the square and buy a large orange juice ($1). I decide I want to get a few last minute items in the souks, so I walk around until I see a jewelry shop that stands out. I find a really unique hidden gem with lots of turquoise rings. I end up buying three amazing rings ($30). I go to find A in another shop bargaining with a shop owner about the price of a scarf. The price is quoted at $30 and I try to help him out, so I tell the guy that I just got three rings for $25 (a blatant lie, I know). He doesn’t budge so I pull out the “we’ll have to walk around some more.” His price goes down immediately to $15. I still think it’s not worth $15 but A does so we get it and go! ($15). Walking home we spot preserved lemons from our cooking class that A kept talking about so I make him buy them ($10). $99.17
8:45 p.m. – We get to Le Jardin for dinner which is in the amazing secret garden so it has a cool, crisp atmosphere. We are immediately seated and we order five small Moroccan salads, marinated olives, lamb kebabs with harissa, and a beef tangia, with bottled water and fruit juice for drinks. The food takes a while because A insists we have beef tangia which is cooked in a traditional clay pot and takes a longer time, but we have a nice conversation reflecting on our first real trip together that went relatively smoothly. We went to Tobago for three days a year ago and had quite a lot of mishaps with the rental car. But we didn’t have to drive here so yay! The food is quite good and we’re sad we came here on our last night and not earlier on. We decide to order to dessert which is a lovely lemon tart. $48.17
10:20 p.m. – We walk back to the riad and fall asleep.
Daily Total: $256.02

Day Nine

10:00 a.m. – I wake up to A packing my suitcase, which is really sweet but I know he’s doing it wrong so I quickly get up to fix everything. Still sweet though. Breakfast is mediocre but we sit on the rooftop for a while and just enjoy the last day of this. We head out to do some last minute shopping and take a taxi to the square ($5). We get our last fix of fresh orange juice ($2) and kinda just wander around for a bit. I see some cute little wristlets so I pick up one for my little sister and cousin ($20). We then see some street-painted signs and I decide I want to get one for my best friend, and A wants one for his apartment. The vendor we initially go to has too high of a price, so we end up getting them at the vendor next door and experience some awkward silent hostility ($15). Aaaaah. The ultimate last thing we stop for is Moroccan pastries from a local patisserie ($13). $55
2:00 p.m. – We go back to the riad, pack our last minute things, and order our last mint tea. Sad times. A goes to pay our riad bill for lunch, mint tea ($22.77), and our ride to the airport ($30).
We say goodbye, farewell to Morocco and go to the check in desk. Let me just say this was the worst check-in experience EVER. I could have cried. Who knew with a *certain budget European airline* you have to pay $70 to literally just check-in if you don’t do it online?! We quickly check in online to avoid this, but find out we have a luggage fee ($47.39). We pass through security and go to airport lounge and eat free (ish) food (the membership is included in A’s credit card rewards and he pays a yearly fee on his card.). $100.16
9:00 p.m. – We get to Madrid and hop in an Uber to our overnight hotel ($28). We thought there was going to be an airport shuttle but it doesn’t run on weekends which is frustrating because the only reason we booked this is because it had this specific feature. Oh well. We check in to the hotel, and head out to eat at a burger place. Don’t judge, it was the closest thing. We order two burgers, water, and A gets a beer. We also get ice cream. ($46.18). $74.18
Daily Total: $229.34

Day Ten

4:45 a.m. – We get up, check out and hop in Uber ($26). I get a coffee ($5) and A gets two bottled waters ($2). We check in pretty smoothly and board our first plane to Gatwick. I fall asleep. $33
11:30 a.m. – We arrive at Gatwick and prepare for our six-hour layover. I am comforted by the fact that there is a Nando’s in our terminal. A win! The airport lounge is filled so we don’t get to go in. We go to Pret and order breakfast. We literally sit around for hours not doing anything. A goes to the lounge many times to see if we can get a spot. No luck. $17
2:30 p.m. – We head to Nando’s!!! We both order half chicken, very spicy with chips, coleslaw, and corn on the cob. I’m super satisfied. $28
3:20 p.m. – We finally get a spot in the lounge, but I just charge my phone and fall asleep until A wakes me up for boarding. We get on our flight and watch Lion King and Moana. I pass out, and wake up when we land in New York! Good to be back. A has to go in the citizens line, while I’m in the “visitors” line because I’m in the states on a student visa still until it gets adjusted. It’s annoying to have to separate because last time I traveled with a citizen, I was held back for extra screening and could not contact my travel partner which was a whole mess. When I’m in the line I realize A took my passport and I have his. I literally smack my head. His phone isn’t working. He’s in a different line and he is not in my line of sight. What am I gonna tell the immigration officer when I have someone’s American passport? I start to freak out and the line is so jammed and I don’t know what to do. Luckily, A is running back to me realizing his mistake and we exchange passports. I’m too tired to explain how stressful those ten minutes were for me. We get out the airport smoothly and get Uber back to A’s apartment. $48.14
Daily Total: $126.14
How did you prepare for this trip?
I am an avid reader of travel blogs, especially those run by Black women, so I spent an entire year bookmarking photos on Instagram and jotting down restaurants. I didn’t know this trip would be a reality so soon, though. I looked a lot at Spirited Pursuit and Along Dusty Roads. They had the best travel advice and tips.
When did you book your flight? Do you think you got a good deal?
I personally think we got an amazing deal! We booked two months in advance after some research on the best deals, and at $600 per person for a trip to Madrid and Morocco seems way more than reasonable to me. I’ve paid way more to fly to somewhere closer, like Puerto Rico.
Do you have credit card debt as a result of booking this vacation? If so, how much?
Definitely no credit card debt! I actually paid off $250 in debt on my credit card while in Morocco!
What was your favorite part of the trip?
My favorite part of the trip was 100% the cooking class. It was something completely out of my comfort zone but it allowed us to interact with people in an intimate space, which we didn’t get much of this trip. Every moment of the experience was great, the instructor, the hospitality, the other attendees, and of course the food.
What was the best meal or food you ate while you were there?
Does dessert count? Because the Moroccan date cake from Nomad Cafe was the greatest thing I’ve tasted in a while. Honestly, overall the best food we had was at Nomad Cafe, especially the grilled spiced lamb chops.
Is there a tourist trap you wish you had avoided?
The camel ride was the most unnecessary and uncomfortable thing I have ever done. I was truly fooled my entire life that a camel ride is something I had to do.
What advice would you give someone who is traveling to the same location?
Do not “avoid” the locals. A lot of travel tips around the internet about Marrakech over-hype the persistence of the local shop-owners and just locals in general. Be aware and careful, but don’t completely avoid Moroccan people. You’re in their country. Learn something! Oh, and definitely bring the right adaptor.
Is there anything about your trip you would do differently in retrospect?
I think we did try to be a bit too ambitious about where we stayed. I would have been fine staying at the same riad for the entire trip, which would have given us an opportunity to take some day trips we wanted to fit in. It’s hard to fit in day trips when check out is at 10 a.m. and check in isn’t until 3 p.m.
Is there anything you wished you had time to do, but didn’t?
We initially were planning this trip around going to the Sahara Desert with a few days in Marrakech, but logistically it didn’t work with the time that we had. I want A to keep some vacation days for the winter time, so we put the Sahara on the back burner... for now.
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