Marrakech- Where African and European design converge
June 23, 2015
When Nigel and I decided to go to Marrakech for a weekend (only a 3 hour flight from Dublin) I was very excited with the thoughts of going to a country I had never been to before. We were going with friends, leaving the kids behind- just three days of fun and ready to face the unexpected.
Marrakech appears out of nowhere as you come into land. All of a sudden the desert is gone and this mirage of dusty terracotta low buildings are all around you. The weather in May when we landed was balmy and dry, the average temperature was 37 degrees.
Our days were mixed with chilling out by the pool, shopping in the Souk, and visiting the fantastic restaurants and rooftop bars by night.
Everyone should experience the Souk. It is a maze of streets and stalls filled to the brim with everything and anything you could imagine. The aromas in the air change every few feet as you pass through the different streets and alleys – sweet from the cake stalls, smokey from the Moroccan lamb cooked in underground ovens, all alongside the strong smells of leathers, metals and herbs.
As usual, I was attracted to anything to do with interiors (I cant help myself!). So I searched out the furniture, rug and lighting shops. They were like Aladdin caves filled with old doors, panels, artefacts and stunning local artwork. Equally with the handmade rug stalls and shops, they had beautiful soft natural tones and patterns, and so many to choose from. Between furniture and rugs I could have loaded a full truck there and then! I knew we were in the right shops when I spotted the man himself, Tommy Hilfiger and his wife shopping in the same one.
The Henna ladies in the middle of the market square were fascinating to watch. They worked and talked to each other continuously, pounding the leaves and the twigs of the henna plant to form paste for the henna dye. The speed they were working at was breathtaking, and all this in 40 degree heat with only battered umbrellas shading them from the sun.
You will soon need a break from the shopping and no better place than the coolest little rooftop restaurant called NOMAD, we had a birds eye view over the Souk, and the food was delicious. After a recharge we hit the streets again for more fascinating experiences. It is surreal some of the sights you see and I found myself snapping photos of snake charmers, a chameleon sitting on a bright yellow hat slowly changing colour from green to yellow and a terrifying dentist sitting in the market under an umbrella who offers the service of pulling your teeth out for you on the spot and gives you a set of recycled false teeth!!! Honestly you have to see the sights yourself to believe them.
NOMAD restaurant- great food and a great view
We also went to the magnificent Jardin Majorelle (also known as the Yves Saint Laurent gardens) which is well worth a visit. The contrast of his trademark cobalt blue mixed through the gardens with stunning flowers and plants everywhere. I found it to be a very calming place especially after a trip to the Souk.
There are endless choices of night-time entertainment in Marrakech. On our nights out we had a blast at the Bo & Zin restaurant; great food, music and décor, very cool vibe with indoor and outdoor eating. We also paid a visit to the Le Comptoir Darna restaurant, as you walk in the door there is no denying you are in Marrakech, the dark lighting and low seating, candles and scents of spices. The highlight of this restaurant is the live entertainment. The atmosphere was electric and the restaurant went wild when the belly dancers appeared and entertained us all.
Although there are so many places I would like to visit in the world, I would definitely go back to Marrakech again so I can see more of this city but also to visit the countryside of Morocco. It was hard to pack it all into three days, next time I would seek out more of the Moroccan antique dealers and the trendy Riads, as a lot of them have been turned into Boutique hotels with beautiful fabrics, colours and furnishings from Africa and Europe. Now I have a taste for Marrakech I look forward to my next visit.
Miriam (aka Minnie)