By Adeeba Hadi
We arrived at Marrakech Menara Airport around midday where we were met with the warmth of the Moroccan sun dazzling us. The view outside consisted of lots of beautiful palm trees which looked even more magnificent under the luminous sunlight.
Our Riad, (a traditional, historic Moroccan house with a courtyard used as a hotel) was a 20-minute ride from the airport situated close to the city centre, Jemaa El-Fnaa. The journey was filled with lots of palm trees and greenery, around which were streets filled with people, taxis and some horse carriages. Our Riad was within local alleys where we could spot the locals including younger children playing out on the streets. The Riad was a very cultural Moroccan house with numerous traditional paintings and custom-made furnishings; our room was situated on the terrace, allowing us a clear view of the beautiful day outside.
Our very first day was filled with embracing the diverse, roaring city centre, Jemaa el-fnaa; taking in the large space filled with various stalls offering fruits, dates and other moroccan street foods. The Jemaa el-fnaa was truly an unforgettable sight; a full volume of vibrancy and chaos that the city has to offer at the heart of Marrakech. As the sun set and darkness descended, we witnessed the city square transform into an exotic, busy atmosphere which entertained the evening crowds with mystical readings, snake charmers and deafening music. The Jemaa el-fnaa was surrounded by various restaurants with terrace seating which gave a magnificent view of the noisy, thrilling happenings of the city square below. The atmosphere of the city square with its lively, cultural and charismatic environment was the highlight of our first evening in Marrakech.
Standing tall at the medina quarter, on our walk to the Jemaa el-fnaa was the minaret tower of the ‘Kutubiyya mosque’, the largest mosque in Marrakech flanked by spacious gardens; situated close to the Jemaa el-fnaa.
Our second day consisted of visiting the city square and various open-air Arab markets also known as ‘souks’. We had a camel ride booked for us later that evening which was no doubt one of the most extraordinary experiences of my trip. We were picked up from our Riad and taken to the palm grove also known as the ‘Palmeraie’, which reflects the intimate atmosphere of Marrakech’s medinas with tranquil courtyards, scented gardens and a breath-taking view of the sunset. After the exhilarating camel ride amidst the palm oasis, we were taken to a traditional Berber village where we were hosted by a very hospitable Berber family in their cultural, conventional home, and had the pleasure of enjoying the taste of Moroccan mint tea along with some dates and dried nuts.
We were greeted by our carriage waiting for us in the morning of our third day, which was going to take us to visit the various tourist attractions of Marrakech including the Menara gardens, Majorelle garden (Jardin Majorelle), and the Musée Yves Saint Laurent (YSL). The Majorelle garden is one of the most enchanting and mysterious gardens in Morocco. Created over the course of forty years, it is enclosed by outer walls, and consists of a labyrinth of crisscrossing alleyways on different levels and boldly coloured buildings that displayed magnificent art. It was truly a joy photographing some of the wonderful aspects of this elegant garden, designed and named after the French artist Jacques Majorelle.
Marrakech is a vibrant and diverse city filled with scenic views as well as an exotic environment with various activities. The city’s thriving culture, beautiful setting, mystical appearance and heavenly shopping make it a unique cultural and unforgettable experience. There were plenty of things to do and see in this exotic city, and one thing I can say with confidence is that once you’ve captured its charms, it will be impossible to forget them.