Travels with V

Morocco

A red quilt on the ground

Marrakech part one

It’s all red down there, I realize when I wake up and look out the airplane window. Fields of different red shades, thrown out on the dry plains. Sometimes separated by dried out river beds. We’re soon landing in Marrakech, southern Morocco.

Top 5 in southeast Morocco:

 

  1. Jemaa-el Fnaa. The main and central square in Marrakech is a 5-sense overload. Colourful and mouth-watering, chaotic and tiresome. Don’t miss the medina right next door, with bazaars and secret gardens!
  2. Pepe Nero, the best restaurant in Marrakech. Table must be reserved days ahead!
  3. Jardin Majorelle, Once YSLs private garden, now a spectacular and popular park. Lots of cactuses and bamboo, a splendid café and a don’t-miss-museum. 
  4. Cool in Ouarzazate: Atlas Studios, where lots of blockbusters have been shot. Guided tour through sceneries you’re bound to recognize .
  5. Best hotel in Ouarzazate: Berber Palace. Yes, it’s expensive. But there’s fe alternatives, many cheaper places are dumps.  

From the airport we head straight into the heart of Marrakech, it’s emotional and geographic center, the Jemaa-el-Fnaa square. A jam-packed, chaotic place swarming with people at all times, night or day. Tourists, city folks, vendors and tricksters, acrobats and snake charmers and whirling dervish dancers. A deafening noise that just never stops.

Jemaa-el-Fnaa means “gathering of the dead”, sort of, and it refers to a time long ago when public executions took place here. Now it’s less mortal but incredibly colourful.

We are staying at the Hôtel & Ryad Art Place Marrakech, deep in a corner of the square. It’s a beautiful and excellent place, built like a typical Riad, a camel-driver’s inn with a yard in the middle and the rooms around the balconies on the second floor.

We walk diagonally over the Jemaa-el-Fnaa and into the Medina, a confsing labyrinth ot narrow streets and stairs, and a multitude of shops selling spices and clothes, colourful saucers and all kinds of kitsch.

Further into the medina we find the hidden secret gardens. Behind it’s portals the city noises disappear, and all you hear is the splashing of water in fountains and the chirping of birds. In a pool turtles wrestle for the best sun spot.

At night the tempo increases on Jemaa-el-fnaa. The dancing is wilder and drums and shawns try to whip up the last drops of energy from the now half-fainted snakes. Lamps are lit, fires started and soon the whole square is wrapped in grill smoke and mouth-watering food smells.

Discover Marrakech with us! In the next chapter we visit a beautiful but spikey park that was once the garden of Yves Saint-Laurent, the fashion giant. And we discover a palace of the dead that was forgotten for hundreds of years, and that is is now guarded by a platoon of wild cats. Soon appearing in this space!

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