This is an Islamic country that reminds me a lot of Las Vegas. There are a lot of old mosques mixed in with Vegas-esque resorts. It is hot and arid there and is built around a number of oasis’. It is mostly a barter society and everything is based on cash. You can negotiate on everything you buy.
There are a number of amazing spas. The old market is composed of a number of old alleyways covered with planking and steel rafters. The colors are out of this world. This market pictured is filled with snake handlers and music and sounds. It is a remarkable sight.
This is a French colony with a ton of European and traditional middle eastern influences. One of the most amazing places is the La Mamounia resort that is one of the top resorts in the nation. It is a very social hotel and out by the pool you meet travelers from all over.
One of the top excursions is a hot air balloon ride over the Atlas mountains where you can see the lush oasis’ of Marrakesh contrasted against the arid desert and mountains. The sunsets here are especially striking due to the sand particles in the air from the Sahara desert.
While at the La Mamounia I met a local couple that shared my fascination in leather goods and invited me to their house for dinner. Their names were Said and Damiya. Always looking to spend time with the locals I jumped at the opportunity. A couple days later they picked me up at the La Mamounia and we went on the hour drive. This included an excellent tour of the city from a couple people that seemed to know everything. I learned a great deal from them.
Prior to going to their house, I did some research on typical food in Marrakech so I might be more prepared for whatever they decided to serve, since they told me it would be “a surprise”. I got a lot of information from this site, however I was still not prepared for what she served. It started with something called pigeon b’stilla which is a type of layered pie with a crunchy crust followed by a lamb shoulder that took all day to cook. It was absolutely mouthwatering. While alcohol is frowned upon in much of the region, they served a beer that went perfectly with the meal. I believe it was called Flag Speciale, a nice full bodied pilsner.
Afterwards we retired to their den where there was a table full of olives, nuts, and wine to cap off the night. As the evening went on, Damiya spilled her wine onto their beautiful Persian Rug. We scrambled to get it cleaned up but she did not have the supplies I am used to seeing. She seemed upset so I called my friend Tammy who owns a residential and commercial cleaning company in Richmond Va. to get her advice. She spoke with Damiya to find out what she had handy and they were able to concoct a cleaning agent from the household supplies available. It didn’t do a great job but was the best possible outcome given the situation.
Anyway, I highly recommend Marrakech to anyone who loves Middle Eastern culture and food. It is a wonderful area rich in color, beautiful old architecture, friendly people, and lots to do.