Thursday, 17 November 2011

Nosey Parker in the Neighborhood - Marrakech

Today I`m linking up with Kat`s Nosey Parker in the Neighborhood so that I can give you a little taster of where I live - go on, make yourselves at home and have a good snoop around.


Question 1: About my home...

About 9 and a half years ago, we moved to Marrakech from London where I was a partner in a law firm.  A complete turn around culturally and professionally.  We came here to set up our business - a B&B in the old town.  Yes, I`m a B&B landlady! I live here with my husband Youssef and our son Zaki.

Marrakech is in the N.African country of Morocco.  It`s the second largest city in Morocco with a population of just over 1 million.  It has an old walled city (the medina) and a new one, which was established by the French protectorate.  Marrakech has mild winters and very hot summers with no rain for 4 or 5 months and has an average of 10 hours of sunshine every day. Like Kat, we do a happy dance when it rains and take photos.

The view from our old house

Marrakech depends on tourism and every year almost 10 million visitors come here often staying in traditional houses (riads).  The place on everyone`s list to visit is the main square where you can see snake charmers, magicians, soothsayers and monkeys.


Question 2: What are the houses like in my area...


We live in a residential area in the city centre and here`s a photo of our street.  The Moroccans call these houses `villas` although they are not what I would call a villa as they are not free-standing. They are typically 3 or 4 floors high with a basement and maids` quarters (garconnier) at the top of the house. Our house is to the far left of the image - you can just see our front gate.  Opposite our house you can see the local corner shop (where the red `Coka` crates are) `hanout` where you can buy pretty much everything apart from fresh meat and vegetables.

Our house is on a corner. Here`s the neighbouring street at night.


In the old walled town, the streets are a tangle of traditional courtyard houses.  The houses look deceptively ordinary from the outside but once inside the rooms face onto a courtyard garden.

Question 3: Some of my favourite places...




One of my favourite places to visit is the Majorelle Gardens.  Until recently, we lived just around the corner from it and it was a great place to take my son as it`s fairly small and he can run around.  It`s a botanical garden owned until his death by Yves Saint Laurent.  The green plants work beautifully against the cobalt blue pots and tiles.


A wander round the souqs can be fun too although it gets busy at peak times and the vendors can get hassly.  They also speak good English now and were taught naughty expressions by that cheeky Jamie Oliver when he visited a year or so ago and I don`t appreciate the call of `fish and chips` as I pass by!

 
If I want to escape the city for a day then one of my favourite places to visit is the old Portuguese coastal town of Essaouira, put on the map by Jimmi Hendrix and now famous for its Gnaoua festival and surfing.


...or a trip up into the foothills of the Atlas Mountains where there are blue skies, verdant hills and red earth.  One of my favourite places to stop for a drink is Richard Branson`s Kasbah Tamadot where the views from the terrace are truly stunning.


Zaki and me October 2010
Question 4: How do most people travel around the city?

Don`t get me started on transport in this city so I`ll keep it brief. Marrakech has a pollution problem.  The main form of transport is a mix of scooters, cars and petit taxis, which are plentiful and cheap.  I drive here every day and it puts me in a bad bad mood.  No exception.  On a 10 minute car journey, I find I have an average of 4 -5 near misses. Trust me - I`ve counted and I consider myself a pretty good driver who drives defensively.  A more leisurely way to travel around the city is by caleche (horse carriage).


Questions 5: Is there a type of food Marrakech is famous for?

Yes, like the rest of Morocco it`s the tagine but there is a speciality common to the area and that`s the tangia. It`s always cooked by men.  In a pot, a mixture of meat, spices, preserved lemon and garlic is placed before the pot is sealed and left to cook in the ashes of the local bakery fire. Bakeries are usually next to the local hammam as the fire heats the water for that as well!

Hope you enjoyed your nose around.  Head over to Kat`s and have a snoop around other people`s neighbourhoods!

Diary of a Flutter.Kat

33 comments:

pcflamingo said...

Fascinating and beautiful! Thank you for the pictorial tour!

susan said...

I knew your post would be a good one. Love your tour and thank you!!

Isisjem said...

Great post and tour! Love the pictures. Makes me want to visit now.

Toni said...

So interesting! I doubt I'll ever get the opportunity to visit Morocco so it's been fun to read a little more about it from a resident's view. So many beautiful places, but I'm not sure I could live in the city! Thanks for the nose into your life!

Quilter in the Gap said...

This was amazing to see. Thank you so much for sharing your little corner of the world. I hope I have time later to put together my post as I just found out about this party. Not sure how I missed it.

Amanda ~ Blue LaReve said...

This was such a beautiful tour around your neighborhood!! Love all the photos!

Hilachas said...

I enjoyed reading about your city. It is always interesting to hear about cities from the perspective of those actually living in them. Thanks.

Cindy said...

This is so amazing! Thank you for a little look into your world.
If you're looking for rain, my friend, come on over!!! IRL won't let you down :)

diane said...

Thanks for the tour. I'm afraid my tour would be so boring compared to yours.

Deanna said...

What an interesting place to live! Sounds so exotic, but I suppose when you live there, it's home, not a holiday.

gill said...

Thank you! I so enjoyed having a look around!!

Danny said...

Wow! Your home seems so great! Thanks for sharing.

Archie the wonder dog said...

Such a fascinating post - thanks for sharing!

Flying Blind... said...

Your neighbourhood is the best!

Sheila said...

That was a fun trip Annabella, thank you.

Ellie said...

Oh thank you for the tour. It's always interesting to see where people stay. It looks like a very vibrant and colourful place to live.
I had to laugh at your pictures of the rain. When I was a wee girl (about 9) we stayed in Rhodesia and when it rained it poured. People used to dance in the puddles - that memory has stayed with me and your pictures just reminded me of it. :))
I love the picture of you and Zaki. Do you enjoy being a b&b landlady?
Thanks for sharing.

Elizabeth said...

I'm almost misty with nostalgia!
Wouldn't it be bliss if all the mopeds vanished?

I used to take the number one bus very often --Djemma Elfna to Gueliz to
Acima. I always felt pretty safe in the bus!

oxoxo to all

Katy Cameron said...

Oh, this is one of those photographer's dream locations that I'd love to visit (although it's perhaps a good thing I've not tried to visit before, as I thought it was more on the northern coast on the Med than round the corner where it is!) Thanks for sharing anyway :o)

Leanne said...

This is great, thanks for the tour & the information about you! I enjoyed reading this!

Helen in Switzerland said...

That was a really lovely tour - I definitely need to visit Marrakech sometime soon!! Lovely to see the picture of you and Zaki too!

Catherine said...

Thanks for the tour and the info Anabella - and all your amazing photos: it was a great read!

Second Chance Tan said...

Awww, fab post and fab photos, thanks so much. My partner and I met in Morroco 8 years ago when we were both travelling there, so it holds a vey special place in our memory, and one day (sighs!) probably a long time from now, we will return xx

quiltzyx said...

Thanks for the mini vacation to Morocco! The photos are wonderful & now I feel quite refreshed. :D

Nicky said...

Thanks for the tour Annabella - I so want to go to that garden - it has been on my bucket list for a few years now!

Ann Marie @ 16 Muddy Feet said...

Wow, sounds almost like you live in paradise, except the traffic. One day I will visit Morocco.

Rebecca Lynne said...

Whew hew loved this post Annabella! As always the photos are gorgeous and I love the environment. I hope to visit there some day...ah, once the kids are grown up perhaps!

Jamie Lee said...

Wow, your post was so interesting!!! The photos were beautiful and your home seems so exotic and different from what I call home. Thanks for sharing!

Diary of a Flutter.Kat said...

Thanks so much for sharing your home with us Annabella! Fascinating! Not to mention beautiful :)

Teje said...

Hi! Thank you for sharing your story! Everything looks so beautiful and exiting and your photos are really good!
x Teje

Brigitte Heitland said...

It seems such an inspiring place to live!

Janet said...

So exotic and so interesting! I've always enjoyed looking at your posts... they have a sort of misty quality to them that reflect the middle Easterness... Thanks for showing us around!

Jenelle said...

Lovely photos! The picture of you and your little boy is so adorable (and what a beautiful place for you to visit!). I really hope to come to Morocco someday, and I will certainly stay at your B&B. I just need to brush up on my French a bit and learn some Arabic!

Dolores said...

Hi Annabelle

Just discovering your blog - I'm a fellow quilter in your do.Good Stitches bee. Morocco sounds so fascinating, I have done a fair bit of travel but haven't made it to Morocco yet (went to Egypt in 1997). Also, my parents are from Malta so there are a few similarities - hanut is what we call shop too.

dxx