We were visiting Marrakech in the middle of Ramadan so things were quieter during the day.
As the sun set around 8pm, the call to prayer was heard through the city and the people were able to break their fast.
We ate dinner at a nearby restaurant Limoni where we discovered Chicken Pastilla, finely ground chicken encased in the lightest puff pastry with delicate spices and a dusting of icing sugar. A combination of savoury and sweet flavours which worked surprisingly well. Another dish to try cooking perhaps.
After dinner we walked to the main square where people were praying, eating, dancing and generally coming to life after the day’s fast.
After a day of walking we were tired and so after absorbing the ambiance walked home slowly navigating the streets at night until we arrived back at our riad and collapsed into bed.
An evening in Marrakech.
It was an easy mistake, the streets looked very similar, there weren’t many signs and suddenly we were off the map and didn’t know where we were.
We were walking through food markets, down bustling streets with zooming motorbikes and noise and everywhere we were offered assistance to the main square which we knew was a rouse to take us in the wrong direction. We’d been warned.
It turned into a game of skill as we navigated the distractions; the old woman begging, the men offering suggestions, the donkey pulling a cart, a boy squirting water. We started laughing as it was like being on a survival course, navigate your way through Marrakech without losing your temper, maintain your relationship and ascend to the next level of the game, night navigation.
After two hours of walking (most likely in circles) we ended up in a familiar area (just near where we’d started) and eventually made it back to the riad.
We had made it back thanks to the trusty map and several sanity breaks along the way.
It called for a stiff drink on the roof terrace to celebrate before setting out for dinner and the next level, night navigation.
Would we survive the next challenge?
A discrete blue door down a tiny backstreet with the name of the riad carved into a stone above was the only indication of the tranquility within.
The riad provides an oasis from the daily bustle of life in La Medina and after spending a full day navigating the streets of Marrakech, we couldn’t have been more pleased to see it.
We had started the day meandering through the souks, the endless labyrinth of traditional markets selling leather goods, ceramics, jewellery and clothes.
We walked up and down the narrow alleyways going deeper and deeper into the midst of the market. We weren’t really shopping, just browsing. Senses were engaged and it was all very inspiring. The design aesthetic in Marrakech was fantastic.
After several hours we stopped for a delicious lunch at the Cafe Arabe where we ate Morrocan salads, pastries and couscous. We have discovered that the aubergine is a vegetable previously unappreciated and we’ll be trying to cook it when we get home.
After lunch we went to the Museum of Photograhy where we saw early photographs of Marrakesh before setting off to return to the lovely RyadDyor for a siesta and that’s when things went a little wrong…
Having sorted out the extortionate bill, we were driven under a dark cloud to our next port of call, the RyadDyor in the old town, La Medina.
We were met by a man with a cart who loaded up our bags and took us winding through a labyrinth of back streets until we reached a wall with a blue door.
Inside the door was a cool relaxed interior with two open central courtyards and palm trees waving in the breeze. A small plunge pool cooled the area and everywhere were beautiful Morroccan artifacts.
We met the manager who gave us a tour of the riad including the roof terrace before giving us a detailed map of the area and suggestions of where to go.
The map would later turn out to be our most precious possession as it saved our lives…
After a final breakfast and a tour of the hotel it was time to leave the luxury of the Ksar Char-Bagh behind and set off to our next destination, the RyadDyor in the old part of Marrakech.
Before we left we were presented with a bill.
It was a nasty surprise as we were under the impression that the stay was complimentary in return for a promotional article we will be writing on Marrakech and given the absence of other guests, something which is needed.
It is always a good idea to clarify what is all inclusive as we were charged a lot for things we hadn’t requested but which had been suggested in order to experience the hotel. We weren’t looking for a free ride but hadn’t been shown a menu or a price list. That just seemed wrong.
We paid the bill but felt rather disillusioned as we set off to our next destination.
Next time we will certainly clarify what’s all inclusive!
We decided to have a day lounging by the pool as the chances of it happening again for a while are apparently quite slim.
After breakfast we meandered to the side of the huge green pool and took up residence for the day only moving to swim or to swap between sun and shade.
It was a hot day and after our first trip into the medina and the stress of the previous week, it was a welcome chance to unwind.
The day past slowly until we once again ate dinner alone on the terrace under a blanket of stars before sinking into a deep sleep of relaxation.
After a delicious breakfast we had an itinerary for the day and set off into the old part of Marrakech (La Medina) to have a look around.
We were dropped at the main square and so we started to explore the souks, the labyrinth of markets which the city is famous for.
The stalls of ceramics, leather, metal and spices were abundant and sellers tried to entice us to look. We barely scratched the surface as we knew we’d be heading back when we move hotels.
We stumbled across a tiny museum, a traditional house from the 14th
Century. The carvings were intricate and coloured tiles covered the walls and floors.
After the market we set off for lunch at the Cafe de la Poste, a French brasserie in the newer part of the city where we enjoyed a relaxed lunch of salad and tabbouleh and then we walked to the Jardins Majorelle, a blue painted garden designed by Yves Saint Laurent which was small but very tranquil and cool after a hot walk in the sun.
Across the road at 33 Rue Majorelle we discovered the most fantastic concept store where traditional design had been reinterpreted in a contemporary manner. Clothes, jewellery, ceramics, toys and more. I could have spent hours in there.
I found a fantastic red bead necklace which looked like rows of shiny cranberries as I’ve decided to explore ethnic jewellery on this adventure.
I thought it worked well with a white linen kaftan I bought last summer as I dressed for a second dinner á deux on the terrace.
We arrived in Morroco (after the obligatory two hour delay due to rain) and were whisked off by private driver as the sun set over the red buildings to our luxury hotel just outside the city.
The temperature was warm and the locals were starting to break their fast from Ramadan.
The most spectacular building greeted us with enormous silver doors, twinkling lights and stars starting to emerge overhead.
The Ksar Char-Bagh is the kind of hotel one dreams about. No detail escaped attention, from the beautifully landscaped grounds to the perfectly designed interiors. Intricate carvings and a spectacular pool surrounded by palm trees.
The hotel consists of fifteen suites and only accommodates thirty people on ten acres of land. To say it was tranquil was an understatement.
To our surprise we were the only guests and enjoyed private dining on the terrace.
It was the perfect place to relax after a strange week where everything seemed to turn upside down.
We drank Morrocan Rosé and ate a delicious three course meal of traditional salads, a chicken tagine and a layered wafer and cream dessert which we definitely didn’t need. We finished with traditional Morrocan mint tea, sweetened slightly and fragrant with local mint. It was the perfect end to a lovely meal.
Diets are by the wayside this week I suspect.
Welcome to Marrakech!
With a little time to kill at Gatwick, it was hard not to indulge in a little people watching, or staring.
The British are a motley crew of holiday makers and there were lots of brand spanking new holiday outfits walking past.
Lots of tight white trousers, bright shades of pink and coral, sandals and polyester. The matchy matchy accessories and crop tops galore.
Add the obligatory Boots and Pret bags and the look was complete.
Im now heading off to buy my sunscreen and get my Boots bag.
I don’t want to stand out from the crowd!
After the madness of this week, the timing was perfect to get out of what’s left of the U.K. and go to Marrakech.
For the first time in a year, we are going to have a proper holiday which doesn’t involve packing boxes, cleaning, selling houses or looking after other people.
Neither of us have been to Morroco so it’s a new experience, a completely different culture and hopefully a break from the nonsense.
A week doesn’t sound long enough!