Judy James has kindly agreed to share her experiences of her travels in Morocco. Judy and her husband Robin travelled to Marrakech with Original Travel in February 2011. Judy has written a beautiful description of their trip, and Robin allowed us to use some of his stunning photography. The is an abridged account in three parts, the first focussing on their Marrakech guide, the second on their experience of the souqs and the third on their trip into the Atlas mountains.
Assault on all senses
We got a taxi into Marrakech from the airport, soon getting to the great walls of the Medina which we followed around to the Bab Doukkala, one of the main gates into the old city. We unloaded our luggage amid the milling throng of taxis, donkey carts and bicycles, then set off down the narrow main street with senses assaulted by the scents and sounds of the medina, swirling smoke from stalls selling food, stray dogs and cats under foot, turned down a tiny side street coming to an unmarked door which opened into our Riad.
Through the door you enter paradise! A Riad is a traditional Moroccan town house, and built around a central courtyard and garden, open to the air, originally to preserve the privacy of the women. There is a tiled courtyard with a fountain floating and rose petals gurgled in the centre, wood fires burned in the salons off the main courtyard, richly decorated with brocade, carpets and wall hangings. There was a pool in another courtyard with a spa area and a huge rubber tree which grew right up to the roof terrace, past the bedroom windows.
Taking in the view
The roof terrace overlooked the rooftops of the Medina from where we could see the minaret of the Doukkala Mosque and the high Koutoubia minaret in the distance. The air was filled with the smells of spice and grilling meat - you could hear people talking and music floated up from houses round about. It is a very different experience living inside a Riad. There is no view from the bedroom or salon windows as they all open onto the courtyard, and the noise of the medina does not penetrate, so it is incredibly quiet apart from the faint call of the muezzin and the dawn chatter of hundreds of sparrows that roosted in the rubber tree whose canopy stretched up from the courtyard, past the bedroom windows.