Accor Hotels have a competition that invites bloggers to write about one of their favourite cities. The idea is to show three reasons why you love it and the prize is three-night stay for two, in London, Paris and Amsterdam. They’re including transport by Eurostar and even spending money, doesn’t that sound wonderful?
One of my favourite cities is Marrakech, a passion that began way back in 1969 when Crosby, Stills and Nash released the track Marrakech Express. I was very young, but something in that song intrigued me, from then on Marrakech seemed like a very exotic destination, even though at the time I would have struggled to find it on a map.
A few years ago I finally made it and it didn’t disappoint one bit, in fact I loved it so much I returned for a second visit. It’s difficult to narrow it down to just three things I love about it, but the first I’ve chosen is Les Jardins Majorelle. Originally created by the artist Jacques Majorelle, who devoted forty years developing it into a lush paradise. The intense ultramarine cobalt colour that he used abundantly through the garden, later came to be known as Majorelle blue.
When Majorelle passed away, the garden became neglected and would have been destroyed and replaced by an hotel, had it not been for the vision of Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Berge, who bought and began the restoration process.
There is now a memorial to Saint Laurent in the garden and Berge gifted it to the Foundation Pierre Berge and Yves Saint Laurent.
Bahia Palace – meaning ‘the beautiful’ was built in the 19th century by Grand Vizier Si Moussa. It has two acres of gardens and around 160 rooms, some of which are open to the public. The main attraction for me is the ornate tile work on floors, walls and ceilings. These are multicoloured Zellij mosaic, in Islamic, Andalucian and Moorish style, with green ceramic roof tiles.
There is also some delicate stucco work that reminds me of the jail screens in Rajasthan – used in the womens quarters of major palaces as well as havelis. Naturally the Bahia once had a harem filled with concubines.
The palace can be found in the medina, next to the Jewish quarter and is open daily, unless there are royal visitors. It is one of the cheapest places to visit in Marrakech, about a pound, plus a small tip if you have a guide.
Last but not least on my list, is La Place Jemaa el Fna, a UNESCO world heritage site for ‘the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity’. I think it’s a love it or hate it kind of place, that many would describe as crazy and impossible. By day the vast square is a sun trap, only copious quantities of the best and cheapest orange juice ever will keep you going. Luckily the stalls are everywhere, as are the caleches, ready to take you around the city for a negotiable fee.
As the sun begins to go down, if you want to take it easy, head for one of the roof terrace cafes, and sit back and enjoy the spectacle.
Every night, La Place is transformed into a huge open sea of eating places and it has to be tried at least once during your stay. The food is freshly cooked and the air quickly fills with smoke, but its tasty and authentic. Anything thing you want, and an awful lot of things you didn’t know you wanted, can be bought around the square and the souk. If you show any interest in an item they will do their utmost to get you to part with your money, but I found it to be good natured haggling.
Before you leave the square, have a wander through the crowds. You will find snake charmers, tooth pullers, henna artists, story tellers, fortune tellers and monkey handlers – I’d avoid those if I were you!
I hope you enjoyed visiting Marrakech with me, the competition ends tomorrow but if you’re very quick . . .
Ben Huberman at WordPress asks us to post a nighttime photo for this weeks challenge. I haven’t really got very many, I’m to lazy to use a tripod and I don’t take my camera out much at night. I did find this one though, taken at a Riad in Marrakech a few years ago.
Take a stroll through the medina in Marrakech and you will find the 19th century Bahia Palace. The entrance takes you through lush gardens with banana, bamboo, bougainvillea.
Look up at each threshold, the tiled ceilings are beautiful.
and look through the window to a room that was once a concubines.
Join in at http://wheresmybackpack.com/2013/09/20/travel-theme-through/comment-page-2/#comment-32870
In the heart of the medina in Marrakech lies a beautiful haven of peace. Even it’s name, Houdou, means serenity, in Arabic. It’s a 17th century mansion, with an inner courtyard, shady and green with citrus trees and the ever present buntings chanting their song. The roof is part shaded and part in full sun, a lovely place to rest and enjoy a view of the Atlas on a clear day. There is a hammam and if you’re too hot from shopping in the souk, there is a plunge pool to cool you down. Food is freshly prepared, local but with influences from the French owners.
I’ve tried to show you what it’s like INSIDE a traditional riad, I hope you like it and if ever you visit Marrakech I recommend it highly!
Can you show us Inside? Maybe you would like to see other interpretations to inspire you.
This weeks challenge is ‘From Above’.
Sara Rosso says ‘Change your perspective on something. Share a photo of a subject which you shot from directly above. This plate of cheese from the Langhe region in Italy was interesting when I tried to take a picture of it, but when I took it from above, it became even more clear how the honey laid in a neat pile in the center of this circle of cheese and how each wedge had its own identity. For those interested, you started going clockwise with the cheese at 12, and they were all delicious.
Find a subject and instead of taking a picture from in front of, at an angle, to the side, or from behind, take it directly from above!
In a new post specifically created for this challenge, share a picture which means FROM ABOVE to you!’
I have chosen some views from above from several countries, hope you like them and maybe join in?
This week’s photo challenge is guest hosted by Aaron Joel Santos. Who says,
‘Culture. Culture is a bit of a loaded word. In a photograph, it can embody everything and nothing. So where do we draw the line? Shopping culture, hippy culture, Asian culture, Thai culture, ancient culture, and on and on. These phrases have different meanings. For me, as a working travel photographer, being able to show culture, in all of its various guises, is crucial to the success of an image.
There are obvious elements that go into making a great photograph: perspective, color, contrast, subject matter, and lighting, to name a few. But for this challenge, go for that little something extra — that piece of the image that makes a viewer want to see more — to delve deeper into the culture you’re photographing. I’ve always said that I want my photographs to make people curious. So that is your assignment here: inspire curiosity with your photography.’
The richness of the culture in Marrakech is something I love, so here are three photos for you. The first shows that culture isn’t always comfortable, in fact in the tannery, that has been part of their culture for so long, it’s distinctly unpleasant when the smell hits you.
Next, there are many stalls in the souk selling the wonderful local figs, dates and olives, delicious.
Lastly, this is Jemaa el-Fnaa, in the heart of the medina, and a world heritage site. It’s a real spectacle in the evening when it is packed with music, dance, snake charmers, story tellers, tooth pullers, you name it. The smoke is from the numerous food opportunities that are set up each night.
Marianne at http://eastofmalaga.net/ has chosen Multi-colored this month. Her own vibrant photos take on to Australia, Malaysia, Vietnam and New Zealand, check them out. Mine are all taken in Marrakech, one of my favourite places, with colour around every corner.
This challenge is a blog hop, to showcase two different blogs that you enjoy each time.
My first is Marina’s art blog http://marinakanavaki.com/ , her tagline is ‘Art Towards a Happy Day’, so very warm and generous. I love the way she uses her art not only as beautiful paintings but transferred to everyday items, at prices that make it accessible to all. Her work ‘As above so below’ is my favourite – so far.
Next, a relatively unknown blog http://2far2shout.wordpress.com/ , Tony has a light touch and describes himself as a slow traveler. He spent part of this winter in Australia and I loved his post about Kiama, God’s waiting room as he says! This time last year he was in India, returning to the places of his childhood. I have a copy of Hero on a Honda, his travel book about that trip.
I hope you visit and enjoy these two blogs!