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!