Marrakech - A Study in Contrasts

January 26, 2013

I took a journey across oceans, continents and desert on a quest to make a little girl's dream come true. It just happens that little girl used to be me!

All my life I have dreamed of visiting North Africa’s most fascinating city – MARRAKECH - curious to discover why this Moroccan oasis has been a muse for artists and writers alike for centuries. And as we descended the taxi and entered the médina to walk along ancient paths steeped in mystery, I knew Marrakech was everything I hoped it would be.

Inside the médina we were immersed in a world of exuberant color palettes, exotic scents, potions and sounds. Within moments we were approached by vendors bestowing us with gifts of amber, cinnamon and spice in hopes of luring us to their stands filled with mounds of spices in vibrant hues and a never endless array of handcrafted goods. It can feel overwhelming at first, but in time this playful ritual between you and the merchants becomes part of the allure.

When we arrived at our riad after walking through the labyrinth of shops and alleys, what lay hidden within this walled-courtyard house deep in the medina can only be described as paradise. Everything about Riad Azoulay is a delight for the senses.

The courtyard is open to a majestic sky that beautifully reflects onto the pool below. The air, surprisingly cool given the warm temperatures, is filled with the melodic sound of fountain water.  The entire space is skilfully decorated with Moroccan furnishings, ornate carvings, Berber carpets, Zelig tile and lovely fabrics. There is an exquisite attention to detail which indicates this was a labor of love for the owners, Massimiliano and Alessandro; two Italian expats that now call Marrakech home.

Our room, decorated with a 4 poster bed and rich fabrics in lavender and gold, was fit for a queen and for that moment in time I felt like one. And as we later sat poolside enjoying our first of many traditional Moroccan mint teas and snacking on homemade cookies, we were intoxicated by this exotic oasis and wondered if this was what eternal peace felt like…

Marrakech we quickly discovered is a study in contrasts. There is the bustling medina, Berber markets and antique buildings, but there is also a sophisticated, sleek and bohemian side to Marrakech that perfectly fuse to create a city that pulsates energy and provides mounds of inspiration.

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