We have arrived! After a few hours of traveling yesterday we touched down in Marrakesh and our adventure began. Last night we didn’t get to the Riad (hotel) until about 10pm, leaving us a little amount of time to go adventuring in the main square and have some dinner before we got some sleep for the busy day we had today.
Today was an absolutely amazing welcome into Marrakesh. Our group leaders organized for us all to have a guided tour around the main locations, helping us to understand our bearings and get to know the city safely.
First we visited the Majorelle gardens that were first owned by Yves St Laurent in 1980 . For me this was a beautiful start, if you haven’t already worked out from my blog that i love plants then now you do. The gardens felt like a secret oasis of green and blue in the middle of a pink city, i could have stayed there forever.
Next we traveled to the Saadian tombs via the Cyber park. This was a lush park filled with fruit bearing and olive trees (my favorite) and beautiful decorative fountains. After a dusty but exciting walk we arrived at the Saadian Tombs where the remains of Ahmad al-Mansur and his sons lay in lavish tombs and the remains of his chancellors and wives in the surrounding grounds. While we were there the tour guide told us that the graves contained no names as in their culture they are remembered for their deeds and person. This struck me as very brave as often peoples main goals and wishes in life are to be remembered.
Next we went to see a medicine man which i found very exciting. He was a traditional Burber medic trained in the art of natural medicine. He told us about spices like Cumin which should be eaten with everything as it is great for digestion and argan oils and their healing properties. At the end we had an opportunity to buy the medicines that interested us which we were assured were pure and cheap! I found this to be an enlightening experience as its something that i have been looking into for a while and was delighted to get some valuable insight first hand!
We were then escorted back to the location of our Riad for some local lunch. We were taken down a few windy streets (it was very difficult to keep up with everyone and one leader did actually get lost!) until we arrived at a big wooden door. We followed some dark tiled stairs wondering where we were being taken, until we arrived in a beautifully sunny courtyard with elegantly laid tables. The entire meal felt like a dream, it was so sunny, everything was glowing and the food was delicious. music played while we ate and the sun warmed our bodies, a welcome sit down.
When we were fully rested we wandered back into the streets to visit the museum. This was another lavishly decorated building with a beautiful garden. Here we were told that all the designs in Marrakesh origionate from nature and geometric shapes, due to the religion. in my experience, i saw that the nature patterns were often used on wood panting and the geometric shapes as tiles. We were also told that most grand buildings would have a garden that contained four sections of vegetation and shrubbery which represents the four seasons, a water fountain would stand in the middle.
Next we were shepherded around the Souks. As it is a Sunday, it was ridiculously busy! This was quite a shock after the calm museum but it felt like an adventure. There were men shouting from every direction, trying to pursuade us into their shop. As we were a large group, it made it very difficult to move through the crowds and we had to ensure we didnt loase anyone. After a long time of wandering and visiting a few areas we began to understand the layout of the city a little better.
Eventually we were taken back to the Riad where we dumped our stuff and ran out to enjoy the night! we took ourselves straight to the main square as it was where we felt the safest and knew there would be good food. We spent a while wandering before we found the perfect restaurant which was a beautiful roof top looking over the main square. As we ate our dinner the music of dancing and happiness flooded up to us along with the bright lights and laughter and when we finally got to bed we had the unmemorable sleep of a good, busy day.