A walled-city of labyrinthine alleyways filled with donkey-carts, spice-sellers, carpet hawkers, snake charmers, and palm readers, the Medina (old city) of Marrakech has been the highlight of my travels. In the center of the Medina is Djemma el Fna square; nightly, at 7pm, the square explodes with life – an entire night market of food stalls – lanes of appetizer carts, kebab carts, couscous & tagine carts, soup carts, tea &dessert carts, fresh juice carts – suddenly appears, anchoring the madness of throngs of people. Around the food market, as far as the eye can see, are entertainers – musicians, storytellers, carnival games, henna artists – each with its own crowd of onlookers. The outside ring of Djemaa el Fna is the souqs – the multi-level markets whose passageways twist and turn into each other – sellers hawk ceramics, lamps, leather goods, jewelry, antiques – all of which is part of an elaborate bargaining game (we learned that the rock-bottom price is generally about 1/3 of the originally proposed price, and it often took several minutes of negotiations and a turn of “walking away,” to get to that magic number).
One of the best surprises in Morocco was the people. From the owners of our incredible riad (guesthouse) in the Medina, to the free “guides” we picked up in the Mellah (Jewish Quarter), at the Bahia palace, or on our way to the Majorelle Gardens, we found that everyone with whom we interacted exuded warmth and went above and beyond to help us find our way/enhance our trip. I could go on at length reciting all that I loved about Marrakech, but I’ll let the pictures show the rest.