Diving Into Marrakech

A quiet moment in the souq

Marrakech.

Solitary

Merely pronouncing the city’s name evokes sunburnt red walls, mazy streets and bustling souqs.

Inside my riad

I arrived in the city two nights ago and found a riad (which means “small palace” in Arabic) smack in the middle of the old city, known as the Medina.

The neighbors have a tree growing in their house

The Medina is a pretty amazing place, and it’s where all the action happens.

Around the corner from my riad

Literally everything is for sale.

Hanging lamps

Haggling over merchandise is inevitable if you want to get a fair deal on something.

Inside a crafts market

Although what you consider a steal was still probably a ripoff.

Spices

In a way, overpaying for things you don’t need (yours truly now has 100g of cardamom tea courtesy of an opportunistic spice vendor) is the price you pay for the riotous beauty of the souqs.

Which way do I go

Negotiating over exotic spices and rugs is only part of the fun: getting lost in the Medina offers the possibility of escaping the bustle of crowds and maybe glimpsing natives who aren’t trying to sell you something.

Day laborers

As it happens, life beyond the tourist track does exist in Marrakech. Builders build houses.

Vanishing into the shadows

Postmen deliver mail–a miracle in itself, given the labyrinthine nature of the Medina.

Wandering the Medina

Occasionally sunlight bathes pedestrians in glory.

Leaving school for lunch

Other times, when you’re completely exposed it doesn’t take long to crave the shade.

Blue and pink

If the walls were human skin they’d be wrinkled beyond comparison from all the sunlight.

Non-Muslims not allowed

Mosques seem to serve the dual purpose of offering sanctuary to the devout and a refuge from the searing midday heat.

The cat owns this doorway

For the many felines of Marrakech, any shaded alcove will do.

Minaret

Some things are worth risking a sunburn for, including the spectacular 12th century Koutoubia Mosque.

Jemaa el-Fnaa

Not too far from the Koutoubia Mosque is the spacious Jemaa el Fnaa square, where Marrakech has met for all manner of diversions for almost a thousand years.

Making music at night

Live musical performances are an especially big draw, but the catch is that most of the acts don’t play music until the crowd has pitched in a certain amount of money. Everything is business in Morocco!

Hanging vines in the palace

Because I enjoy visiting really old places, I decided to see the Palais el Badi.

Doorway, Palais el Badi

It was built by a really cocky sultan, apparently for the express purpose of throwing huge parties.

Nesting storks

The palace is mostly in ruins so no one lives there anymore except for a bunch of storks. The storks have good taste, because the views from the rooftop terrace are incredible.

Bab Aganou

For virtually all of my time in Marrakech I’ve stayed within the walls of the Medina–pray tell, what lies beyond them? Other than seeing this beautiful 12th century portal, not much. Let’s go back inside then!

Long day in the coop

Are you feeling hungry for chicken? You can have one cut up fresh at this market. Or if rabbit’s your thing, or lamb, or fish, or…you probably get the idea.

Epic chicken kebab

I wonder which one of those chickens became this kebab sandwich.

Poulet Tagine

Or this lightly spiced tagine with vegetables.

Aubergine

Fear not, vegetarians, for I feasted on non-sentient eggplant.

Chili beans

The Moroccans take a leaf out of Thoreau’s book: they definitely know beans. These ones tease you with a touch of heat and they cost almost nothing.

Spice tea and spice cake!

Moroccans also know how to brew damn good tea, and whatever the hell spice cake is, I want all of it.

Like baclava, but only almond paste inside

And this entire tray of delicious baclava-like pastries.

Spice pastry

Same goes for whatever they put in this thing–it was so rich that I couldn’t even finish it. I once ate 5 desserts in one day yet I met my match here. I’m leaving the city tomorrow, which is crazy because Marrakech is not a “see it in a couple days” kind of place. Yet onward I go.

If this is your first time reading my blog, let me know in the comments section below! Wouldn’t it be awesome to see more cool places like this every time you opened your email? Following my blog is free, and I don’t believe in spam–click on the “Follow!” button up there on the right for updates on my travels and inspiration for the next time you go somewhere new!

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