"Guess who's back, back again...". I was singing the Eminem song in my head as I started to type, kinda laughing to myself, because it's been a long minute since I posted. I had every intention to, so determined - but I won't bore you with my excuses. I could, but I won't. So while I'm rambling away off subject I'm sure you've already checked out the title - Marrakesh! Awesome right? I visited Marrakesh in Morocco for the first time in November of 2016 as a way to celebrate my birthday month. Prior to visiting Marrakesh, I've been stalking this beautiful location online for years. To be exact, around 2010. What truly peaked my curiosity and held my attention was when I discovered a wonderfully curated blog by a unique lady named Maryam Montague. If someone asked me who I wanted to be when I grow up, I would definitely name her first. Maryam's blog was about her life in Marrakesh appropriately titled "My Marrakesh". She would pull me in with her amazing descriptive writing style. She was very passionate about her work, her family, and Marrakesh. Catching up on her ventures and exploring Marrakesh through her eyes was a treat for me. I watched her grow from writing a blog to being a well known brand, still representing Marrakesh. Still doing great things and making it look effortless. Still holding my attention and watering my imagination. I couldn't wait to visit and feel this wonder first hand.
So that's my background on shamelessly stalking Marrakesh, and Maryam (I meant well..). Fast forward to early 2016, I made up my mind I was going and started planning with girlfriends and my sisters. In the end, my sister and a girlfriend committed and my fantasy became real. I was going to Marrakesh. The one thing I had to accomplish was a stay at Maryam's boutique hotel - Peacock Pavilions. First, because it was enchanting and perfect. Second, because Maryam lived there and I had to meet her. We left the third week of November and our first stop was Peacock Pavilions - mission accomplished. I met Maryam. I ate dinner with her and I was speechless for the most part. Silly me was so awe struck and could mostly only nod and smile. It was still a magical evening - like something out of a story book. Our evening was planned to start off with cocktails, a henna party, and an elegant intimate 4 course dinner. Outside. Under a Tent. Under a majestic tent. Like I said - magical. I was so in the moment that I did not take a lot of pictures but the one above was taken by me while seated at the table. That's Maryam on the right. Everyone was laid back, interesting and pleasant. We had volunteers seated with us and it was great to hear their stories on their work with empowering girls and women in Marrakesh.
Henna party at Peacock Pavilions - Check out our Auora
Me (In the middle..) and my lovely ladies at Peacock Pavilions
Ready for Dinner under the majestic tent
I'll share a little background with you on Marrakesh.
Marrakesh, a former imperial city in western Morocco, is a major economic center and home to mosques, palaces and gardens. The Medina is a densely packed, walled medieval city dating to the Berber Empire, with maze-like alleys where thriving souks (marketplaces) sell traditional textiles, pottery and jewelry. A symbol of the city, and visible for miles, is the Moorish minaret of 12th-century Koutoubia Mosque. - The Moroccan Trip Planner. The Berber people are who I would like to call the "originals"of Morocco. Just like we have the Native Americans in USA and Canada, the Berbers were the originals of North Africa. Indigenous will be the appropriate word to use but I like Originals. It gives it the rightful mystery it deserves. You will here mostly French spoken in Marrakesh due to the French colonization. Berber languages and Arabic are spoken as well. I don't claim to be an expert on all things Marrakesh. My knowledge is based on what I've read and seen. I encourage you to research and enlighten yourself as well prior to a visit.
We spent a day on a guided tour exploring and shopping with an intent to hike the Atlas mountains. We engaged with locally pottery artisans, shopped Berber jewelry, visited and shopped at a cooperative by women who produced beauty products made from Argan oil, made a stop for lunch and more exploring at Kasbah Tamadot, a luxury hotel near the Atlas mountains. So, about that hike. Well, life got in the way and we ended up spending way too much time eating and prancing around on our stop at Kasbah Tamadot that by the time we made it to the mountains it was too dark for the hike. I did get and stay sick for most of our trip - I underestimated how cold it would be in November - that I didn't do quiet as much exploring towards the end of the trip as I would have liked as I can be quiet cranky when I'm sick. Ok, very cranky. For the remainder of our trip we stayed close to the Medina at Dar Les Cigognes. The staff was very pleasant especially the Chef who offers a cooking class during your stay complete with a trip to the market place and had a great sense of humor. The best part of Dar Les Cigognes was the rooftop garden where you could also dine (mint tea all day, everyday) as well as it's proximity to the Medina. The Medina was...a maze. A magical Maze. I could stay there all day. So much food for the senses - there was fabric, spices, jewelry, lamps, art, rugs, - my kind of place to explore and wander. If you go, definitely take a guide with you, it's truly a maze and easy to get consumed and lost in. I was too sick (and mostly cranky..) to engage in a traditional hammam they offered at the spa at Dar Les Cigognes that I was really looking forward to. But my sister and friend did and they said it was an amazing experience. We ended our evenings with night caps at a restaurant/club in the center of the Medina called Kosybar. I enjoyed the Coconut soup the most. An of course all the mint tea I could drink.
My Sis making Pottery at a local spot during our guided tour
A blessing with my new Berber name - Fatima
At Kasbah Tamadot with a view of the Atlas Mountains
Fantasy in reality - a Garden in Kasbah Tamadot
Sitting on top of the world at Kasbah Tamadot
Exploring the Souks
Breakfast time on the roof top garden at Dar les Cigognes (I believe this was Stage 1 of cranky kicking in..)
Night cap at Kosybar featuring my friend Sandra
I could add so many more pictures, so many more experiences explored. I wish I could share it all, every single bit of it all with you but that would be information overload and just might crash your internet experience - but worth it. I look forward to visiting Marrakesh again - healthier would be better. This time I would also like to make a detour to Fez in Morocco and get lost and consumed in all that wonder as well. My trip to Morocco was not just a long time dream realized, it was also a moving feast. Moving in that all my senses were elevated by the beauty in the people, food, art and culture. It was a menage of all things beautiful. It reminded me that the world is a beautiful and unique gift to us all. So wherever you are, take a moment to reach a little further out to the ends of your world. Seek out all the wander that the creator has to offer. It's a moving feast.
Roof top Garden - Dar Les Cigognes
#thecheliexperience #thecheliexperience #Livewellexploreoften #Explore #Spa #hammam #Thecheliexperience #livingwell #medina #souks #peacockpavilions #maryammontague #marrakesh #marrakech #morroco #atlasmountains #kasbahtamadot