Marrakech, 2018

When you live in London you find yourself craving one thing - the sun! The warmth it gives you, the dryness of the air, the blueness of the skies. So this winter I decided to go somewhere dry and warm, give myself those desert-y vibes! 

I’d been interested in going to Marrakech in quite a while. I’d done a lot of Europe, and wanted something completely different and brand new - and I’d never been to an Arabic country before. The bustling markets, intricate tile works, and ochre structures of the old city made it super appealing to me; and I’d been totally enchanted by an amazing riad I had seen on airbnb. 

Arriving at my riad I was greeted by a friendly man with a big pot of mint tea. The Moroccan mint teas are delicious - but also about 60% sugar. There was a sweet little pool in the courtyard, and all brilliantly patterned walls. I sat alone, taking in the intricacy of the ornate facades and sipping my mint-sugar-water until a group of ladies who had also arrived from London joined me! We sat and spoke, and then went to see some of the sights of the old city.  

The old town is gorgeous: it’s tiny and cramped and bursting with life. The tiny dirt streets are about a metre and a half wide, you can barely move during the day as they are filled with activity and people as well as motorbikes and mule-drawn carts. Barring sites of religion, there are no tall buildings in the old city - the height of a palm tree may not be exceeded by a building. This makes for some amazing rooftop views, and restaurants overlooking the ancient city. 

The first thing you notice in Marrakech, is just how much of a sensory overload it is. The sights of the dazzling colours and patterns; the sounds of a bustling busy marketplace with livestock and old bikes; the smells of food, of dry sand, of leather tanneries. It’s a lot to take in, and very easy to get distracted and mowed down by a cart pulling mule, but all incredibly beautiful if not slightly overwhelming. The souks are very full on. 

Also of note is that, while plenty of people in Marrakech do speak English - it’s actually their third language! Pretty much everyone is fluent in Arabic and French, and the friendly locals will always try their best to speak English. My cab driver from the airport was a native who had self taught himself English, he was very excited to practice his language skills on me, but his fluency in English was incredible! Anything is possible if you work hard enough.

I really wanted to do a trip to the Sahara, but it was both pricey and time consuming - the only trips worth doing were 2/3 days and I didn’t have the time to spare. I’m sure the deserts will still be there when I get back. I did however, get to venture out into the Atlas Mountains. My trip was only a day trip, so we went to the edge of the mountain range and through some small towns, eventually stopping for lunch in a river (the restaurants outdoor setting was in the shallows of the river running through the canyon), before going onto a short hike to see a waterfall.

Back in Marrakech and there was still tonnes to see. The old palace provides spectacular views, and although it is now just a husk, the grandeur is not lost. There’s also again another terrific view of the surrounding Atlas mountain range, and a spectacular viewing platform. The new-ish Yves Saint Laurent Museum was enjoyable, but even better than that was his old estate (and final resting place) Jardin Marjorelle. The 2 and a half acre botanical garden also boasts a gorgeous villa of cubist design, in the amazing Marjorelle blue (original owner Jacques Marjorelle trademarked the colour which contrasts starkly with the yellow features, as well as the vibrant and hardy greenery that surrounds it. The villa now serves as a museum for the traditional berber people, with the YSL museum on the block next door.

Made some friends along the way.

The only downer to this trip was my return flight, I’ve had flights delayed, but due to heavy fog that had swamped Marrakech overnight (so thick we could barely see the cars beside us on the narrow roads taking me there) there was an 8 hour delay! Overall though Marrakech was an amazing place to visit, and a real treat for the senses. If you can, get out there! 

اشكرا لك مراكش! 

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