Morocco is so much more than the cliché quasi-permanently attached to it, of exoticism and mystical Arabian nights, not totally dissimilar to Aladdin’s fictional Agrabah, complete with fez-wearing monkeys and magic carpets. If any Moroccan city were to even fulfil a part of this it would have to be Marrakech, who, despite its cosmopolitan and modern image, still retains a particular kind of timeless mysticism. Between the first time I went there as a child with my family up until now, including the numerous trips in between, Marrakech still has the same effect on me. It’s as though the second I exit the airplane, I get sprinkled with magic dust.
And that’s exactly why I chose Marrakech for my bachelorette party next February. My sister is planning it and all I really know is where we’re staying and who is coming. Other than that, I’m in the dark, so unfortunately can’t share with you what we’ll be getting up to. But what I can tell you about are some of the things I always get up to each time I go and just why I love that city so much.
My favourite place is undoubtedly Jemaa el-Fnaa, a large square in the city’s historic medina quarter. Overlooked by the minaret of the Koutoubia mosque, the square is peppered with water-sellers in traditional pom-pom adorned costumes, henna artists, monkeys and snakes being liberally plonked on unsuspecting tourists, horse-drawn carriages and probably my favourite part, fruit stalls. Here you will savour the best dates and freshly squeezed orange juice of your life, especially welcome during the stifling summer months. From there, I always weave my way into the souk (market) the same way: it so happens that my favourite shops and vendors are in that direction, but it also prevents me getting lost in the maze of spice-smelling narrow streets. Speaking of favourite shops, these include antique stores that sell traditional jewellery, more modern jewellery establishments where you pay by weight and can even design your jewellery on the spot, babouches (Moroccan slippers) salesmen and plenty of tiny nooks filled with marquetry boxes, candle holders, fabrics, spices and more. Almost more satisfying than the wandering around and shopping is the negotiating: they can be tough negotiators in the souk, but it truly is great fun every single time.
Removed from the souk is the Jardin Majorelle, a beautiful garden in the centre of the city, with all its buildings painted in a bright shade of electric blue.Originally bought and developed by a French painter, Jacques Majorelle, its claim to fame is its ownership by Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé. They even lived in the garden, in one of the villas and tirelessly continued Majorelle’s vision, making the garden home to a unique collection of plant species and elevating it to the level of a must-see when visiting Marrakech.
Last but not least, another activity, which is an absolute must and one of my favourites, is camel riding in the desert. Go to La Pause, outside of the city to enjoy a memorable camel ride, followed by lounging on tapestry cushions and
gallons of mint tea. Even though you could do this in other North African countries, La Pause is in my opinion a flawless setting and very Sex and the City (cliché I know, but you’ve got to love it).
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