Marrakech – a short trip
As you emerge from the airport the air is different. It is dry and it has the faint hint of vegetation and pine trees. It is October and it is very hot. Our adventure in Marrakech begins.
The 20 minute taxi ride into Marrakech is fraught with danger. The usual rules of the road are ignored. But somehow it all works. Whole families are piled onto a motorbike and hold on for dear life. The traffic is heavy and the old Mercedes taxis are everywhere. Your eyes are wide open as you take in the life around you – only three hours from home on www.easyjet.com but it is truly another world.
We arrive at our taxi drop off point to be greeted by our porter. Where we are going now, cars do not fit. He puts our bags in his carriage and uses his cart to protect us from the traffic as we cross the road. Next is the labyrinth of alleyways until we come to a lovely carved wooden door in the side of a somewhat unremarkable alley.
The bell is rung and the door opens. We are greeted by the friendly face of Pascal, the owner of Riad Ghali.
As we step inside the tranquility of this beautiful riad is immediately apparent after the noisy streets. With a pool in the middle of the courtyard and the balconies that extend around, this riad is perfect. The foliage and the typical furnishings give it a character so different to what we are used to. The beautiful and ornate lanterns that hang around the riad add to the Moroccan feel too.
A quick mint tea and a minute to drop our bags in our room. You are immediately reminded how much detail goes into the decor. Our whole ceiling is hand painted in tiny detail in greens, reds and fine detail in gold. Our room is simple with a huge carved door and two big windows. Looking out of the window you look up to a blue sky. In the bathroom you cannot fail to notice the beauty of the beaten brass sink and the tadelakt plaster that is so typical of the region.
A short stroll takes you to the main square of Jemaa El Fna. This is the one you see in all the pictures. By day a large mostly empty square with the odd snake charmer and women milling about wanting to henna you. By night the whole square comes alive with street food being served on long tables and benches. You will eat a hearty meal for two for £3. We love it.
The best thing about Marrakech is roaming the streets and souks and appreciating this culture. The food, the colours, the amazing things that are made by hand. The loud call to prayer.
Our favourite place is the small Spice square. Here you have women with their pestle and mortars breaking down huge piles of herbs. There are women selling warm hats and baskets a plenty. Where Jemaa el fna is busy and very noisy and a little stressful, this square is the opposite. Calm and relaxing. We like to sit several times in a day and drink mint tea at Cafe des Epices. You get a lovely healthy lunch here too (our favourite is the avocado and tomato sandwich). The staff are friendly and you have the choice of three floors to sit on. The top terrace has a beautiful view out over the Atlas Mountains.
In the opposite corner of the square is Nomad. This restaurant is where my daughter claims to have had her “best meal ever”. With fresh fish brought straight from the coast and some simple but interesting dishes, this is our favourite! It also has a fabulous roof terrace. Check out the gift shop too.
We cannot resist a bit of shopping and so the souks take up a bit of our time – the fun of seeing if you can get a handbag for half what they ask for it is all part of a day in Marrakech!
Of course you should see some of the historical sites of Marrakech, but its main draw is watching the everyday life that goes on here.
We arrived home from Marrakech exhausted but cannot wait to return.