MOROCCO PERSONIFIED

After a warm sunny July in Cape Town, August brought erratic gale force winds and non-stop freezing rain. Lashing out and howling for days then out of the blue, one sunny day. This schizophrenic behavior from Mother Nature in the Mother city was driving me insane, it was time to buzz off!

I was chatting to a good friend in Morocco when he suggested I visit his beloved Morocco and break the monotony in Cape Town. I graciously accepted and got cracking on the packing!

Morocco has always fascinated me. I had not been to this exotic part of the world as yet! Naturally I felt excited about the new experience and very privileged to be able to see this beautiful country through the eyes of my friend, a local Moroccan and international jet setter.

Casablanca الدار البيضاء ed-dar el-Biḍa meaning “White house” is the hub of Morocco. Besides being the financial capital of Morocco, It is the chief port and industrial centre. Casablanca also has the third largest Mosque in the world; the Hassan II Mosque.

The prayer hall can accommodate 25,000 of the faithful, and outside the esplanade can hold another 80,000. It covers two hectares and has the world’s tallest minaret (200 m/656 feet). When it’s really hot and crowded a retractable roof silently opens. The architecture, art, geometry and the amount of decoration, plaster and wood used to construct this mosque is astonishing!

Morocco is only a two hour flight from Paris and easily accessible to the rest of Europe, one of the many advantages that it has. Interestingly, I noticed that Moroccans can easily switch in mid-sentence between languages, reflecting the cultures of – Berber, Arab, French and Spanish.

I loved the Maarif market filled with fresh fish, fruit, spices and vegetables. Habous, the old town, was a walk through centuries of history. The souks are a major feature in Moroccan lifestyle. In the souk you will find exotic food items, traditional arts and crafts, shoes, and clothing. I was thrilled when I found my first Jelabah – caftan dress with the attached hoodie and even more over the moon when I found the perfect Babouches which I bought in many colors.

Then it was off to Marrakech, an ochre city, set in natural beauty. The contrast of the mountain range, barren desert and valleys, contributes to the charm and intrigue of the city. Its about two hours from Casablanca by car and visually, different in beauty.

The souk or the medina in Marrakech is a mysterious place, night and day. Fortune tellers will attempt to read your palm, monkeys on long leads screech and bare their teeth at you, snakes slither to the sound of a flute and an unusual character seen around the market square is the water-man offering drinking water to a passerby in his colorful coat with copper cups dangling around his neck, an age old tradition.

In Marrakesh we stayed at the Royal Mansour which was built by the King of Morocco. It is more than a luxury hotel, It’s a place of elegance, discretion and comfort. Each riad ( a traditional house built around a central courtyard) at the hotel unique in design and furnished with beautiful antique furniture, ornate tiles, handcrafted wood, draped silk curtains and cushions thrown together, the detail of our riad was impeccable. From the private roof terrace of our riad the sun was setting in the distance over the Atlas Mountains. We listened to the muezzin, experiencing the traditional riad life at the end of the day.

In my opinion, those who have stepped inside the huge bronze gates of the Royal Mansour, know there is no other hotel in Marrakech that can compare to this, embodying Moroccan hospitality, architecture lifestyle to perfection.

Casablanca – famous for the eponymous movie – still holds a lot of mystery, so why not just say “Play it again Sam.” I know, I will go back again!

QueenB!……..Abuzzing off

The Royal Mansour
Rue Abou Abbas El Sebti،
زنقة أبي العباس السبتي،
Marrakesh 40000,
Morocco
Tel: +212 52980-8080

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