Al -Maghrib

A lush, resplendent & magical life-changing experience for the curious traveler with open mind & heart.

I first visited Morocco as a newly married, wide-eyed 23-year-old island girl who had moved from Greece to the big wide world of London.  I instantly fell in love… besides the warmth and sun, Morocco was a rich tapestry of cultures, ancient history, and vibrant colors.

Exotic spices, sweet orange blossoms and tangy lemons blended with the earthy scent of sun-baked desert sands creating captivating aromas.  What really stole my heart:  the people and the food.  l returned with a big volume of Robert Carrier’s Taste of Morocco and a pair of silk slippers.  I still have those 40 years later.  Moroccans have a knack for textiles and rugs!

Years later,  I returned with my second husband, this time to walk in the Atlas mountains and explore Marrakech;  I have been several times since.

This last January, dreading the prospect of months of grey Cumbrian skies and single-digit temperatures, John and I decided to fly to Agadir.  I fell in love all over again.  Strolling miles of soft, white sand of Taghazout bay, watching the camels, horses and people against deep crimson sunsets, eating fish freshly caught at the water’s edge — it all felt so natural which reminded us how disconnected we often are from nature.

As a woman,  I was also reminded of the sensuality of the place!  The chiseled faces and smoldering eyes of gorgeous looking Berbers,  the sultry music and seductive dancing reminded me of what it should mean to be alive!

Planning the magical carpet ride of a trip…

Back in England,  in no time we were itching to return.  The light and heat had become essential for my soul to survive the winter.  So, this past February, we headed to Marrakech to celebrate my birthday.

What I had not appreciated was the magic brewing back home.  Seeing how relaxed, happy and full of life I’d looked on Insta, my friends and followers wanted some of that for themselves.  One specific woman, Annie Dickinson, founder of Wayfinding Women — (you may recognize her from travel articles she’s written for It’s My Life) — actually called me as I was basking by the pool.

Irini Tzortzoglou & Annie Dickinson in windy Cumbria…  fast friends and co-conspirators in crafting joyful retreats…

Last October, in my home country of Crete, Annie and I led our first retreat together.  Now we were dreaming and scheming about sharing all I’d been experiencing with other world travelers — delicious discoveries, sensational pleasures and the sheer joy of Al-Maghrib.  My ‘birthday celebration’ trip had just turned into a recce for retreats we will now co-lead here next January and February.

I knew the fascinating history and blend of peoples — from the indigenous Berbers to the Arabs that settled in the 7th century, the Jews who came over from Spain in the 15th century, and African traders who travelled in caravans from nearby countries like Senegal and Mali — would make for one magical carpet ride of a trip.

As a chef, I am fascinated by and love  Moroccan cuisine, heavily influenced by these movements of people each bringing their own ingredients, unique cooking vessels and techniques.

I relish the colorful, buzzing souks.  Shopping is a veritable smorgasbord… many varieties of dates and olives, fresh and candied fruits, vegetables and pulses!

The high-quality extra virgin olive oil, beautifully nutty argan oil and many types of wild forest honey are delicious staples of the deeply aromatic and satisfying tagines, salads & couscous dishes.  With each trip, my suitcase returns filled with these bottles of one-of-a-kind gifts for friends back home.

What to see and do in Morocco…

To someone visiting for the first time, Morocco could feel a bit dizzying sensorially.  In markets, the atmosphere bustles.  People dressed in long hooded robes fervently weave through narrow alleys, bargaining with vendors, inspecting goods, and engaging in lively exchanges.  Others move at incredible speed on foot or on wheels in what seems to be a chaotic landscape with little organization or the standard of sanitation we are accustomed to in the West.

For the curious traveler with open mind and heart, Morocco can be a revelation, a life-changing experience, and many have fallen in love with it over the years, just like me.

Experiences you might not find in a typical “what to see and do” of Morocco that I would recommend…

  • Take a historical tour of Marrakech strolling through the narrow Medina alleyways and finish with a sizzling chicken tagine on the roof of the Maison De La Photographie.

  • Get an organic henna tattoo at Henna Art Cafe.  Lori K Gordon, an American artist, whose own art has been on display in the Smithsonian, created the Art Café in the heart of the Marrakech Medina to help support local artists and their families.

  • Shop for beautiful textiles & rugs, jewelry & leather goods and have fun bartering with the sellers.  They love it!

  • Enjoy a cocktail on top of Vanessa Branson’s iconic hotel El Fenn.

  • Take an excursion to the Atlas mountains, stopping to photograph goats climbing in the argan trees to eat their leaves… and make your own argan oil at Targant museum.

  • Ride a camel at sunset on Taghazout Bay.

  • Relax with a deep cleansing hammam scrub and massage at Hammam De La Rose.

  •  Attend a cooking class at Nora Fitzgerald’s women-empowering ‘Amal’ where they believe “the power of good food to change lives, bring people together and nurture body and soul”.

  • Savour Moroccan mint tea in a Berber house.

Many of us live far from natural environments which bless us with a spectrum of lush and resplendent colors at different times of the year.  In day-to-day life, many of us are surrounded by grey concrete and even dress in ways reflecting that — I am referring to all the black and grey suits from my banking days — and we even go for one single color palette of beige or grey in our homes.

When it comes to rediscovering vitality and igniting the senses… Morocco reigns supreme as the ultimate destination for an awakening experience like no other…

If you’d like to join Irini & Annie in Morocco next January,
register for the “First to Know” below.
Registration launches April 22, 2024

If you’d like to join Irini & Annie in Morocco next January, register for the “First to Know” below.
Registration launches April 22, 2024

Much love…

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meet the co-authors…

IRINI TZORTZOGLOU is the 2019 MasterChef UK Champion.  After a 30+ year banking career in the City of London, Irini went on to wow the judges and millions of viewers by winning this prestigious BBC cooking competition.  Following her 2019 success, Irini published her book “Under the Olive Tree” and is a MasterChef guest critic, food writer, recipe developer & celebrity chef.

If you live in the UK, you can cook at home Irini’s favorite dishes available from recipe box company Cookaway, or learn the secrets of Greek cuisine from her course on the e-learning platform Scoolinary.  Irini is also an olive oil & honey sommelier and leads retreats in Greece and other countries with cuisine & culture she loves.

After life unexpectedly changed, ANNIE DICKINSON moved abroad, living 3 years in Ireland before settling in the English Lake District with husband, David.  From here, she operates, designing, organizing & leading bespoke retreats to magical destinations worldwide.

Her intention for women joining her retreats is to find joy in moments big & small, establish genuine connections with like-hearted women that last long beyond the trip… and offer the space & time for women wishing to find it, the empowerment to transform their world.  Wayfinding Women, LTD has recently expanded our tours to include ALL OF US retreats for women who wish to share this experience with their partner, significant other, playmate, BFF or companion…