Friday, 9 September 2016

Marvellous Marrakech

I've just returned from an incredible trip to Marrakech, and to say that this city is inspiring is certainly an under statement. Marrakech has always been one of those cities that I've dreamt of adventuring too and with so much visual imagery that surrounds Morocco as a country, I knew that it was time to pack my bags and head off on an 8 day adventure!

As we flew into the airport I was immediately stuck by the colours and heat that greet you. That feeling you get as you of walk down the steps and a wave of heat hits you is something that I honestly say feels me with joy, I am sure I was made for hot climates, London is just too cold. The moment your feet touch the tarmac there is a sense of ease, calm and relaxation, there is of course bureaucracy, but nothing as strict as what we are currently use too and this for me is always a welcomed retreat.  A driver picks us up and immediately we are whizzed away to our Riad in the centre of the Medina, not one for the faint hearted, but I couldn't imagine being based anywhere else. The hustle and bustle, the colours and smells, and being in walking distance of all the city has to offer, it was just perfect.

As you enter the Medina, the city unfolds, every which way you turn this wonderful vibrant deep pink envelopes the facades and Marrakech plays out in front of your eyes. Almost theatrical in many ways, bicycles circle in between you as Souk holders sing out to visitors, a rhythm starts to enter your soul as your sense are drawn to the vibrancy of the city. Thick spice smells fill the air as sweet pastries tempt your tastebuds and pink dust flows around your toes, I've arrived and it's just wonderful.

As the sun rises and sets, each day brings a new adventure. We walk everywhere we go, so really getting a sense of the city and the locals that inhabit it. It's hot and haze re-adjusts your focus, every corner you turn another opportunity to capture something, a photo here, a photo there, the city is so visually inspiring you have to remind yourself to stop, pause and look up and out. We visit the stunning Majorelle Jardins, created by Jacques Majorelle and later taken over by Yves Saint Laurent. This tropical oasis centred around an 1920's studio that is encapsulated with the most unbelievable blue, there aren't any words that can describe seeing this colour, you really have to see it to believe it.

We visit the Bahia Palace and walk around the Royal Palace, (a fair few times as navigation is lost!) but as we loose sight of directions, we wonder into the most inspiring streets, only filled with locals and two London artists. As the days roll by we plan more adventures and take a trip to the Atlas Mountains and trek for 2 hours with a local up to 2100 meters, and travel out to the desert to see the Unesco World Heritage site, Ksar of Ait-Ben-Haddou which dates back to the 17 Century. These two days where absolutely astounding and I feel honoured to have seen them.

Morocco is an incredible country, filled with warmth and generosity and reminds us of the good of humanity. One of the lasting memories for me will be the 'call to pray' every day that echoes from one Mosque to another in the city. A call that made me feel alive, and honoured to be able to listen to the chants, truly beautiful. As a Muslim county, they have sadly seen a stark decline in tourism which deeply saddens me and was reiterated by each and every local we meet. I only hope and wish that this will disperse and people will believe in the good of humankind, no matter what country, religion or political persuasion, Marrakech you are Marvellous.

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