Red and Blue

The red city of Marrakech and the blue city of Essaouira.

Delighted to have arrived again for my second visit to Marrakech, the airport building still looking bright and polished as it did the first time. It is now early evening, a little cool, but the fragrance of flowers and herbs give you a warm heavenly welcome. From the taxi window heading off to my chosen destination you can see the Atlas mountains in their full snow capped glory.  

Arriving at the Riads Collection Angsana I am  warmly welcomed with a tray of traditional prepared tea and pastries. After a long day of travel an early night is what is needed, and seeing my beautifully made bed with crisp white sheets makes the decision all the easier.

The following day starts with a delightful breakfast made with the freshest of ingredients and the sweetest orange juice I can ever remember having. I then explored the riad only to find that I could choose from a spa wellness or roof top swimming pool overlooking the mountains to indulge myself in the coming days. Perfectly located only a few hundred meters from the Jemaa el-Fnaa and adjoining Souk I feel very fortunate to have found this treasure of a residence to shall we say base myself.

From the moment you step out from the modest front door of the Angsana whether it be left or right you will not be far from the important places of interest. First stop and also first in line this particular morning I visited The Bahia Palace followed by the nearby Badil Palace. Both a delight to see, interesting and well kept, you should not miss either.

I then headed towards the main square or Jemaa el-Fnaa as better known. Busy it is, having to avoid donkeys ladened with merchandise and young men on scooters will certainly keep you on your toes.

Riads Collection Angsana

There would not be a visit to Marrakech complete without some Souk purchases. And number one on my list is at least two pairs of slippers or babouche as they are called. I love to listen to the history of making them told by the tradesmen themselves. And I found two lovely pairs from Num.18 Galerie Tradetionelle.Oh and do not forget to add an extra sole to your choice, it is done while you wait and for a small extra fee. Now I must find myself a basket trader. This I did at Num.14 Souk Elghassoule, he even personalized mine with my name embroidered on it, am delighted!

After a morning of shopping, it’s now time for a healthy lunch. Cafe des Epices nearby did not disappoint, organic salads and juices are on the menue . I then payed a visit to the YSL museum, which I was so much looking forward to seeing, love the man, love his work, and loved the film. Have you seen it?

More about the YSL museum and Majorelle Garden ON THE RUE YVES SAINT LAURENT IN MARRAKECH

Our next day in Marrakech was a damp one, rain and little sunshine. A stay in the riad day with a large pot of fresh mint tea and book, cosy! We then in the afternoon still decided to go out, umbrella in hand to check out the outer walls of the Royal Palace, high enough so that you cannot see inside. This was followed by dinner in the lovely rooftop restaurant Nomad with its view over the city and mountains beyond. We enjoyed this place so much that we returned the next evening for a repeat performance.

NOMAD Restaurant 

Bahia palace

The following day we decided to make an excursion. Having on our previous visit to Marrakech taken the Jeep trip into the mountain country, thought this time we should head down to the coast. So Essaouira it was. We choose for the local bus instead of the tourist one, not very expensive but far more authentic. Before our three hour journey started we took coffee at the bus station.

The journey to the seaside city was more than pleasurable. The scenery along the way was lovely, rolling hills filled with desert and farmland. We saw men and women transporting their wares on bicycles and mules all fully ladened. And what we enjoyed most was the famous Tree Goats of Morocco all feeding off the nuts in the Argania trees along the roadside,  a true spectacle.

When arriving in Essaouira we were absolutely enthralled by the shades of blue painted buildings which gives the city its name, ‘the Blue City’. The feeling here is definitely laid back. The hippie and surfer culture starting here back in the 1960’s and still living on strong. It is enough to just stroll through the medina and admire the blue and white painted walls to realize why.

We then walked down to the Atlantic Ocean coastline, a lovely stretch of white sand, rugged and yet calm. The port close by had on the other hand a busy market atmosphere about it. The freshest fish that you could imagine on offer, sold by  merchants bombarding you with friendly eagerness to buy from their stalls.

Being lunchtime we headed back to the medina and took a street side table at the charming looking The Coast Cafe-Resto on the Rue al Atarine. The organic menu is exactly what we were looking for, and our tagine Maghrebi dish did not disappoint, truly delicious. The owner, a lovely man came and sat with us, telling that he changed his in the family for generations leather shop into a restaurant. Run by himself and his family, one word describes his venture, goodvibes! Bidding him farewell we decide to make some purchases before returning back to Marrakech. I opted for a bottle of Argan oil produced by a female owned cooperative. There are two types produced, one for cooking and the other cosmetic, I went for the latter. My second buy was a piece of solid perfume the smell is divine, a rich amber. It will keep my clothes cupboard free of moths and smelling fresh for years to come.

Our last stop was the l”horloge is Sahakfe, a beautifully calm place next to the cities oldest pharmacy and a carpet shop shaded under over hanging trees. They offer wonderful local tapas and fresh organic lemonade, heaven!

What I would recommend

Where to stay: the Riads Collection Angsana  stay was above our expectations beautiful, calm with utmost kindest service of all staff. The reception staff had helped us to save time and expenses booking through to them (trips, taxis) and took time to explained about the history of the riads we had the pleasure to visit all 5 of them just ask if you like to see them. 

Tips airport runs take more time than usual extra control take extra times. And for me even bargaining might be something you need to do here and might be fun for some is not what I like that much. So every time I eat on street I pay to much, be prepare to handle. To bargain in the shops is easier as you can just walk away. If you not visiting in the summer bring something warm to wear as the temperature can wary.

My final words Morocco has so much to offer. There are some changes to be seen since I visited 12 years ago back but remains authentic and itself.

 What I wear: The electric allure of an exotic cities calls for bright billowing dressing so I choose for loose  dresses and kaftan blouses with choice of  accessories of round sunglasses matching  with a pair of gold hoop earrings. So perfect from the city to the beach. My ultimate favorite for this season is the  Sweet Nothing 14-karat gold  bracelet  mixing with the  re-imagines its signature ‘Kitten Mitten’ bracelet and the sweet nothing gold choker from Catbird for the ultimate vacation dressing. Sensi Studio Frayed Woven Straw  Hat kept me from the strong Moroccan sun.

I have selected those items  in the pictures below. The best part of the dressing is to mixing it with my local craftsman purchases.

I am looking forward to returning again one day and hope that you  enjoyed reading my story.  Thank you for visiting Gabriela