Back to Morocco again brought back memories of my two week trip there three years ago with Tania but we never came to this part so new to me. Not as interesting as other parts but still good to be back.
Tangier has a walled casbah familiar from other parts of the country but always fun to wander around.
Once you get into the markets you can be assured of a riot of colourful stalls and street scenes.
Lunch in Tetouan was lamb and apricot Tajine – forgotten how delicious they are.
We visited synagogues in Tangier and Tetouan – all Sephardic given that many moved to Morocco from Spain during the inquisition and to this day a lot of Spanish is heard in Tangier. The street below was in the Jewish quarter and deliberately had six pointed arches to reflect the Star of David
And lastly a stop at a closed (it was Labour Day) school for students who learn the traditional arts such as leather engraving, intricate plaster carving, woodwork and copper work.
So we visited the lovely, but sadly overcrowded, Majorelle Gardens on our last day. This was where the late YSL and his partner developed a garden (which they rescued from potential oblivion) and a foundation to help local kids. In summary it is a homage to cactus, blue and yellow and has the best gift shop ever. Last time I visited about 15 years ago it was much quieter – seems the secret’s out.
Majorelle Gardens, Marrakech
And now for the doors – I’ve seen so many on our travels and they are symbolic as well as varied, interesting and diverse. So many places we saw in Morocco were behind doors that gave you no clue as to what was behind them – so there was always a “down the rabbit hole” feeling whenever you went through one. As a finale, rather than focussing on what was behind the doors I thought I’d celebrate the doors themselves. Below are some of my favourites from the sublime and complex to the simple yet nonetheless mesmerizing. Enjoy.
Selection of intricate doors from around the country
Some simple and battered doors – still lovely though
Next stop – cheeky couple of days in Madrid
Marrakech is yet another city full of tiny doors that hide so much from the public eye – whether it is a shop with three floors resembling an Aladdin’s cave or the many riads in the old medina. It is not the done thing to show off what you have – hence the unobtrusive exteriors hiding the sumptuous interiors. It certainly creates an element of surprise. Ours, like most roads, has a large roof deck where breakfast is served gazing over the rooftops of Marrakech as the muezzin calls people to prayer.
My Fenec (desert fox) suite at Riad La Sultana
A walk around the four interconnected houses that make up Riad La Sultana
You are never short of a shopping opportunity in the old souk
Marrakech looking its best in Spring time.
The quieter parts of Marrakech including the madrassa and mosque and the jacaranda trees
First visit to the souk – slippers, dyers, locks and lights
Want to find something? Visit the souk. Everything from locks to slippers.
You can even find many varieties of cacti – including a few fake ones (!) at La Mamounia Gardens.
Cacti at La Mamounia
A couple of days at the seaside in Essaouira including a Jewish shrine and synagogue and cemetery; a walk around the small medina and Harbour and some more strolling around the food market. Restful place but becoming a bit touristy.
Olives, veggies, sweets and much much more. Food at the medina in Essaouira is a serious business
The old town in Essaouira and our trusty guide Hassan
The Haim Pinto Jewish shrine and cemetery dating back over 500 years and the synagogue in the old town
Finally we had a day of rest and there is nowhere nicer to relax than in a fantasy riad nestled into the mountains. The Riad Bab Ourika fit the bill very nicely and apart from a short lesson in making a lamb terrine we did very little except read, snooze and enjoy this lovely building and its very large gardens. bliss!
At the end of our short sojourn into the mountains we headed to Essaouira via some goats in trees – yes really – see proof below. A uniquely Moroccan experience and I like the fact they are prepared to share trees.
Next stop Essaouira on the coast.
The Riad Bab Ourika, Atlas Mountains
The grounds and views from the Bab Ourika Riad
Hungry goats do indeed climb trees. But only in Morocco and only Argania trees.
After surviving the desert sand storm, the road trip continues through Ouarzazate where we saw “Moroccowood” where everything from Lawrence of Arabia to Gladiator was filmed. And now we are spending a couple of nights of “chill time” on the top of a hill at a gorgeous Riad in the Atlas Mountains in Bab Ourika.
Souss Massa Draa and Skoura
Ouarzazate and Al Halim