Colourful and creative handmade items for sale at a Moroccan souk
It seems that no self-respecting
traveller should call their itinerary substantial unless it includes a
stopover in Marrakech, regardless of their length of stay. Looking back
over the past decade or so of holiday bookings, this trip easily stands
out as one which I've always thought best fits the description of
'holiday bargain of the century', and a half board stay at a pristine
5-star hotel, plus flight, clocking in at less than £300 still suggests
to me that there can be some huge rewards to be reaped by planning and
booking trips as strategically as possible. In late June, the city was
almost impossibly scorching, and bustling with life, and the sheer
colour of the city alone floored me more than any other place visited
up until that point in time.
Acrobatic displays at Jemaa El Fnaa, the main square in Marrakech - atmosphere!
It is fair to suggest that Marrakech can
be roughly divided into two areas, the (walled) area of the old city,
comprising the medina, main square, number one structure (Koutoubia),
and then the new town, also known as Gueliz, where you'll find a
cluster of the city's most modern and dynamic developments. Armed with
a sufficient knowledge of French, enough money in the local currency,
and a desire to combat the searing heat and get around the place as a
pedestrian, I made extensive use of the hotel's terrific outdoor pool
as a means of cooling off after such treks around the city which
enabled me to familiarize myself with the urban area to the full extent
of where my orientational skills would allow me to. A night out at a
local fantasy show (Chez Ali) was an elaborate and enjoyable affair
(yet more couscous and tagine!), an afternoon spent quad biking across
the Palmeraie area with just the guide for company (a private tour,
booked as a group session - result!), and a blindingly brilliant day
out spent at the wonderful waterfalls of Ouzoud ensured that my slice
of Moroccan pie was as tasty as I could ever have hoped for.
Folks, trust me, I felt exactly as euphoric as I looked, for all the right reasons!
everyone else I have spoken to who has visited the place goes into
raptures when they talk about it, even those lacking the sweet tooth
required to enjoy their brand of mint tea. Diversity and exoticism go
hand in hand, and the one compliments the other extremely well, and
with the kind of mystical depth I had sought out in Marrakech, it's no
great surprise that I couldn't even resist those Moroccan fez hats to
bring home as souvenirs.