Marrakesh – A different culture – but not too far away

By | Category: Travel destinations

Escape damp and dark London for a weekend in Marrakesh and enjoy a taste of Middle East culture without a long haul flight.

Stay at a traditional Riad to add to the experience and immerse yourself in the different sights and sounds around the Place Djemaa market square.

As the sounds of Jingle Bells and Auld Lang Syne fade into the background Marrakesh can offer a great weekend escape and experience of Middle East culture without the pain of a long haul flight. The Atlas Mountains provide a spectacular backdrop overlooking the Place Djemaa. This is a vast market square that slithers by day with snake charmers as you walk through invisible clouds of spice aromas testing your senses. Colour and noise lure you off to the souks, which lay in the labyrinths of alleys leading off the square. Pottery, copper plates, carpets; in fact anything you desire, in any colour and shape presented by a smiling Moroccan ready to barter over hot mint tea until you leave ladened with memories.

By night the market square transforms into runways of neon lights illuminating the rows of tables and benches, covered with those long forgotten plastic tablecloths. Paper plates filled with steaming hot couscous, terrines of rice and vegetables, all neatly covered with their pottery hats, quickly appear in front of you delivered by the many happy waiters attired in doctor’s white coats. No medics are required as the food is delightful. Performers and sellers still remain on the peripheral of this spectacle, encouraging you to take pictures but remember a photograph is not a free commodity and recompense is expected.

January can supply warm days and chilly nights. Clear blue skies dispels the memories of a damp and dark London and allow exploration of the magic of Marrakesh and a day trip to the foothills let you dip your toe into the snow.

Traditional Riads add to the cultural experience and are my own favourite. Often located around the old city so only five minutes walk from the Place Djemaa. Hidden behind non-descript doors the Riads are former traditional Arab houses, open courtyard to the sky with fountain and fruit tree at their centre. Small and intimate rooms, individually themed and a welcome change from a large bustling hotel. A wood fire in each room to relax in front of after enjoying steam and massage treatments in the compact hamman located downstairs adds to the bliss factor of a Riad. Breakfast on a roof terrace is a delightful start to the day as the calls to prayer echo all around.

One word of caution; if you decide to rave at the Pache Club, which also has a lovely restaurant, take care of the moat around the entrance. Alas on one trip my friend was accidentally knocked in by over exuberant clubbers. Once security helped her out the rest of us suffered a painful five minutes with our hands over our mouths to prevent the laughter escaping. It was an excruciating time waiting for her to see the funny side. It didn’t mar our trip but has provided a lot of laughter since.

Author: Teresa Scully

Travel has this long time provided an escape from working in the City. Anywhere away from Finance, FTSE and commuting did the trick. Experiencing different environments and cultures from the rainforests of Ecuador to the heights of the Himalayas in Nepal have always given me great adventures and continue to lure me. But even a weekend in Wales, walking in the Brecon Beacons or discovering the delights of Barcelona have added to my education of the world we live in. Having escaped the City to work as a Life Coach, therapist and writer my desire to travel has not diminished. I hope you enjoy the travel tales to follow and that they provide some insight as to entice you to follow suit. Even when things don’t go to plan on a trip I try to see the funny side; an armed raid in Nepal for example did not deter me from returning the following year as the country and it’s people are truly beautiful and is one destination I will share with you – or will I? Then you may all want to visit as well – have to think about this carefully!!!!!

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