Day 2: Marrakech
We enjoyed a leisurely rooftop breakfast before heading out into the twisting alleyways of the medina which would confuse even a compass. Google maps has no place here. Founded almost a thousand years ago, Marrakech is one of the great cities of the Maghreb, an intoxicating mix of dusty squares, terracotta riads and lofty minarets. We’d hired a local guide (the lovely Aziz) to make the best of our time here.
Our first visit was to the beating heart of the medina, Djemaa el Fna square, to inhale the hustle and bustle of acrobats and conjurers, henna ladies and food stalls. Afterwards, we dived head first into the souks to haggle over spices, teapots, sweet fried bouchnikhas, babouches (leather slippers) and Berber rugs. We watched the silks being dyed and were ‘persuaded’ to buy a cactus silk scarf in fine indigo blue. Note to self: need to firm up my ‘no’ technique. We visited the former university of Ben Youssef Madrasa (our favourite stop of the day) with its intricate carvings, courtyard pool and ornate mosque then on to the Dar el Bacha Museum with its exquisite courtyard gardens, orange trees and hammam. Afterwards, we perused the old pharmacy purchasing argan oil, herbal extracts for high blood pressure and a fine blend of fifty spices (none of which we actually needed) with our final visit of the day to the breath-taking Bahia Palace with its intricate marquetry, riot of tilework and zouak.
To rebalance our chakras after an exhausting day, we retreated to our riad to drink sugary mint tea in the cool, tranquil courtyard until the outside world seemed like a distant memory.
*Important Note: we kept a wide berth of the snake charmers and monkey handlers at Djemaa el Fna square as a huge amount of cruelty is involved with these practices. Please never engage with these people.