This week, Camilla, our Commercial & E-Commerce Assistant, is our guest blogger, sharing with us her recent trip to Morocco:
The juxtaposition between utter madness and totally serenity.
For many travellers, the ancient city of Marrakesh (often Marrakech) is the first stop on a journey through Morocco and an absolute “must see” destination. Surrounded by the often snow-capped High Atlas Mountains, this bustling metropolitan oasis has everything a traveller could want, from crowded markets (souks) to narrow streets, where history literally comes alive around every corner. A few minutes in the Red city (named so for the red colour of the earth used for its walls) are enough to make you realise you have entered a different world. In Marrakesh there are many ways of either getting lost or finding oneself: in the streets and curves of the medina quarter, the flavours of traditional food cooked in tagines, the beauty of temple doors, the freshness of the gardens and the surprises of the ancient Moorish culture.
A labyrinth of aromas and colours
The history is present in the Medina of Marrakesh, a UNESCO heritage site, and it is really easy to get lost in this labyrinth of old buildings, crowded markets and alleys, so make sure you bring a good map! The souks are definitely the main attraction here, where everything is for sale: clothes, shoes, spices, but get ready to negotiate! It is part of Moroccan tradition and shop owners would find it strange to sell something without discussing the price! The Tanneries are also worth a visit, but be prepared to cover your nose as the smell of the untreated hides is quite strong. Don’t be discouraged by reviews that the area is scary, just be aware of where you are heading to! Also, an interesting spot I would recommend is Mellah, or the old Jewish neighbourhood, characterized by its wood shops, colourful spices and much quieter owners.
Riads, terraces and culture
The breath taking landscape of Marrakesh can be easily seen from the many terraces that encircle the Medina, through the different hours of the day. In the morning, I would suggest to start your day with a typical Maroccan breakfast served on your Riad’s terrace, for a total free stress experience. But what is a Riad? Riad means “garden” but it is applied to town houses built round a central courtyard. Following the Islamic idea of privacy and inward reflection, a Riad usually only have a few rooms (ours, The Riad le J, had 4) with no windows facing the outside. Following a visit to the stunning Jardin Majorelle, stop for lunch at Café des epices for a stunning view over the crowded Place des Epices, it really worth the wait!. After an afternoon spent visiting the main attractions such as Bahia Palace, El Badi Palace and the oldest koranic school – Ben Youssef Madrasa, walk north and ask for a mint tea at Le grand balcon du café glacier, a relaxing café where you can admire the never ending life in the main square, Jemaa El Fna. To conclude, have a romantic dinner at Le Nomad restaurant, but ask to be seated on the top terrace!
Marrakesh has so much to offer, with days and nights made of pure magic and should definitely be included as one of the most hectic but fascinating people-watching places in the country.