Category: Morocco, 2019

Winding up in Marrakech and Heading for the Desert

March 12

We started our day walking through the streets for about 40 minutes, observing and photographing. We both love doing this. Carol is getting into photography, too. Below are photos we took of people throughout the day.

We are then driven to the famous necropolis of the Saadian kings, the Saadian Tombs.  It’s worth braving the crowds to experience these amazing tombs. Carol’s fortuitous need to visit the ladies room allows me to capture one of my better photos of the trip.

Younes explains the history of the tombs, which amounts to something of a historical orientation tour of Marrakech. Marrakech is a city of immense energy and history and one of the most compelling of all African/Arab cities. Sitting in the shadows of the snow-clad peaks of the Atlas Mountains, Marrakech is not only one of Morocco’s most aesthetic cities, but also one of its most lively and exciting. Founded almost 1000 years ago, Marrakech is a feast for the senses and has remained at the heart of Moroccan life ever since, acting as Sultanate capital on occasions, but now undoubtedly as the country’s cultural (or at least its tourist) center.

After the tombs we visit the outside of the large 12th century mosque and minaret that we’ve seen before from a distance. Younes explains more about the history of the construction of the mosque and minaret.

After lunch at a nearby restaurant we ride through the city in a horse drawn carriage arriving in style at Les Jardins Majorelle. (The “Younes twins”, Younes the driver on the left and Younes the guide on the right, pose for a photo in front of the horses.)

The French painter Jacques Majorelle (1886 – 1962) dedicated forty years of his life to the creation of the luxurious gardens and Berber museum. An amateur botanist, Majorelle included plants from all five continents in the gardens.

The garden covers two and a half acres, and was opened to the public in 1947. In 1980 the garden was purchased by Yves Saint-Laurent and his partner, Pierre Bergé. After his death in 2008, Saint-Laurent’s ashes were scattered in the gardens.

Marjorelle’s studio in the gardens, a Cubist style villa constructed by architect Paul Sinoir, has since been transformed into the Berber museum, and is painted a vibrant blue. The museum houses an excellent and interesting collection of Berber tools, jewelry, costumes, pottery, weapons and the like.

A Museum of Love in the gardens houses the posters Saint-Laurent created annually for friends and clients, all of which include the word “love.” We skip the pricey Saint-Laurent store.

Younes squeezes in one last activity, a visit to a very large art and antiquities gallery that has art work and artifacts of all kinds. We are escorted around the two large floors by a man who tells us about what we are seeing. The contents are quite exquisite and we’re happy to have seen it, though we don’t have nearly enough time to explore and have no interest in buying. The gallery man tries to get Carol to make a counter offer for a beautiful, metal cane with inlaid gems the he’s told her would be $500. When he finally gets her to name a number the conversation ends quickly when she offers $50. We did both get to use the bathroom at the gallery, though. Very nice.

Late this afternoon, we are transferred to the airport, bidding farewell to the Youneses, for our flight from Marrakech to Ouarzazate (40 minute flight, but over two hours spent at the Marrakech airport).  Happily, they don’t enforce the carry-on bag limitations, which would have created a serious problem for us. Upon arrival, we are met by a driver from Dar Ahlam, who transfers us to Skoura (1 hour) to the hotel.  

Dar Ahlam is secluded by palm groves and almond trees at the edge of the Moroccan desert, this two hundred year old rammed earth Kasbah the color of Champagne is the original ‘maison des rêves’. It is located at the gateway to the Southern Moroccan desert, 40km east of Ouarzazate, in a palm grove named Skoura. You can only access the property by 4×4.

With all modern comforts and the necessary technology, this singular fourteen room hideaway overlooks the Atlas Mountains, with a palm shaded swimming pool, hammam and candle-lit massage room. Meals are customized and served among a selection of distinct, private settings such as the flourishing gardens by Louis Benech, the gifted designer of the Jardin des Tuileries in Paris and the Bosquet du Théâtre d’Eau at Versailles.

We’ve arrived at this place, and it’s totally amazing. We’ll be having dinner at a private spot on the property. We don’t know where yet. There is no restaurant; just private spots around. No menu, the chef works to do something to your taste. There’s art work from around the world. Right now we’re having drinks in the Grand Salon, and Indian music played by musicians outside is wafting in.

Okay, here’s our dinner spot.

Tomorrow we head for a day/night in the desert. Stay tuned.

We’re off the grid in the desert, so no post tomorrow. Try to deal with it; we’ll catch up day after tomorrow.

3 comments to Winding up in Marrakech and Heading for the Desert


    Love all the shots Arnie. So glad you are happy with Dar Ahlam
    Enjoy the desert.

  • kay Osborne

    What a terrible life, just awful, especially having to dine on stuff the chef throws together just for you, and in a private spot in a lush garden to boot. Tough going, K

  • Tom

    Do try to get caught in a sandstorm. It’s an amazing experience.

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