Unesco Heritage, 19 kilometres of pale pink ramparts enclosing dusky red buildings, vibrant souks, palaces with exquisite tiled inlays, and a life that can be traced back nearly 1,000 years within view of the snow topped Atlas Mountains. Marrakech, a city like no other as it basks in the warm winter sunshine.
Just over 3 hours flying time from London be transported to a city where snake charmers still play their flutes as Cobras rear up from baskets to the delight of visitors from all over the world. This is a city that should be visited at least once, a mix of the old and modern where even in winter you can obtain a sun tan to make you the envy of friends
Modern hotels like the RUI Tikida Palmeraie on the city outskirts offer the traveller a haven away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Set in large landscaped gardens of Cactus, Palms, Bougainvillea with beds of Rose bushes adding colour and fragrance to the still warm air. Pools with spouting water fountains, large outdoor swimming pool plus an indoor pool for the less adventurous. Well equipped spacious bedrooms boasting either balcony or terrace. All rooms come with flat screen TV, hanging space that will swallow the contents of the biggest suitcase, bathroom with bath, shower, hair dryer, soap, shampoo and separate toilet with bidet. This is an ‘All Inclusive’ hotel so having paid for your stay there are no extras other than the ‘Spa’, it even includes 2 speciality restaurants, Moroccan and Italian, just book them at reception with the very friendly staff. A theatre lounge operates two shows a night, sit back, relax with a drink and enjoy the entertainment.
Marrakech is yesterday in today’s world. The Unesco-designated Djemaa el-Fna is where it all happens. Originally the place of public executions it is now the centre piece of the Medina, during the day thronged with locals visiting the souks but as night falls it takes on a new set of clothes. The locals are joined by tourists and visitors drawn to the area by storytellers, astrologists, snake charmers, acrobatics and toe-tapping Gnaoua troupes. It becomes a venue that many call ‘The Greatest Show on Earth’. Restaurants and coffee bars surround the area so sit back, relax and watch the show.
Nowhere is Marrakech’s mix of ancient and modern more evident than the centuries old souks. Enter another world, pottery workshops where potters work at wheels that have been operational over generations, iron work of intricate designs carried out on old fashioned anvils, copper models that are shining works of beauty, lamps and shades that are truly works of art, bakers operating wood burning ovens where temperatures reach over 50c that were worked by their fathers and their fathers before them, clothing of the finest silks, slippers, leather goods, rugs, carpets and spices rich in colour and fragrance transforming the air into a fusion or magic aromas. This is the land of ‘Haggle’, offer a third of the asking price, go from there and get a bargain. Each souk operates in their own distinct area but under the same roof making this one of the largest ‘markets’ in the world. Be careful though as the narrow walkways are still used by mopeds, scooters and motor bikes that weave in and out with apparent ease.
At lunchtime, be transported to another world, visit one of the many authentic Moroccan restaurants like the Dar Es-Salam, hidden away amongst the souks and entered via small doorways that lead to large dining areas adorned with chandeliers, soft furnishings and a quietness that comes as a surprise. Sample chicken as a main dish accompanied with vegetables and couscous, it’s delicious, followed by fruit and Sweetmeats with thick dark Moroccan coffee to finish with. Beef is the most commonly eaten red meat in Morocco, usually eaten in a tagine with a wide selection of vegetables followed by Lamb. Moroccan sheep store most of their fat in their tails thus it does not have the same pungent flavour that many visitors are used to. Moroccans enjoy their soups and a favourite is Pastilla, a thick soup used in the winter to provide warmth and is usually eaten with plain bread but during the time of Ramadan it is with Dates. Another is Bissara made with Broad Beans and again used during the colder months.
Only just over 3 hours flying time from London Marrakesh makes an ideal location for some winter sun. Whether you just want to stretch out on a comfortable lounger around a swimming pool whilst sipping a cool drink and getting a tan or take excursions and learn about the heritage and culture of a country that goes back nearly a thousand years Marrakesh with its excellent hotels makes and ideal location.
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Alan Fairfax -
is a travel writer for
YOUR HOLIDAY TV
Alan also writes for the
Ashford Advertiser Media Group with regional papers across Kent with regular holiday & travel sections in all editions
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Alan's video of his visit to Marrakech
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