Four days in Marrakech



Marrakesh is an assault on the senses – hot, colourful, beautiful, noisy, ancient. The short drive from the airport took us past the high pink mud wall of the Medina, the old city, the taxi weaving between donkey carts, mopeds carrying entire families, small trucks with the occasional person lying with their feet up in the back, talking on their mobile phone, camels with blankets on their backs waiting to give rides. The sky was a pale blue, thick with desert dust.

The first adventure was finding our riad (a small hotel). The taxi couldn’t get to the door as it was in the Medina in one of the myriad winding alleyways. The driver dropped us in a busy street, and immediately we were accosted by a crowd, all offering to take us to the riad. Something we quickly learned was never take advice from a local, there was always an ulterior motive, whether to take us to their shop or simply send us in the wrong direction and any advice taken would need to be paid for. The taxi driver gave us advice which was fairly accurate, then an elderly lady took us the last few metres, for a small payment of course. Then we were in our oasis.

The riad was glorious – cool, smelling of flowers and so old. We walked through a door in a high wall, down a winding passageway to the open area in the middle. A small swimming pool was surrounded by open rooms with sofas and ottomans, bougainvillea climbing the walls, small palm trees in pots. We were taken upstairs to our room. It ran across the width of the riad, looking into the central space. The walls were painted deep red, the high ceiling ornately patterned with hand painted flowers and symbols, heavy decorated light fittings hung down, each with a large tassel dangling. The windows were patterned with iron swirls and with wooden shutters. Over the next four days this became our peaceful refuge, when the busyness of the souks overcame us.

Strangely, in finding our way around I came into my own. Travelling with two people who have accurate maps in their heads, always know which way is north, when I haven’t a clue, this time they were flummoxed. Walking down alleyways that twist and turn, passing through archways and souks took away all their sense of direction, but my observations of a lamp shop here, or a mark on a wall there meant that I could find my way easily.

By the second day we were thinking we would never get the hang of this – the constant demands to buy, the constant directions ‘Square that way!’, flattening ourselves against walls to let mopeds and donkey carts go by, learning just what we could take photos of without being shouted at, but gradually it started to come together. I will never be a haggler, way too stressful, but my daughter was good at it, buying lamps and whittling down the exorbitant initial price to something very reasonable, and all keeping her own good humour and that of the souk owner.

Four days was enough, so much to absorb, but I would say the experience of Marrakech was one of the best I have had. It will stay with me for a long time.

Not a lot of time or opportunity for sketching, theseΒ are just a few.



Author: anna warren portfolio

I draw, I paint, I am a printmaker. Always searching for the interesting detail in the world around me.

30 thoughts

  1. These sketches are fabulous, they took me there straight away, how amazing to go from the peace of our outback to the bustle of the souks. Thanks for letting me come with you. I am off to Bali in a couple of days, so I will share my trip with you in return. Karen.


  2. Between your sketches and your words I can clearly picture what your trip might have looked like. I love that you could navigate by being an excellent observer. So interesting, thank you for sharing.


  3. Quite different colours to Australia! The drawings really give the viewer the impression of perfumed exotic rooms as well as heat and dust outside. Fascinating to read your adventures and impressions. Mesmerizing!


  4. Anna, what a journey! So glad you were able to get in a few sketches. Lovely colors and warmth. Thanks for sharing a part of your trip. πŸ™‚


  5. Marrakech sounds incredibly intimidating to me, but I absolutely loved traveling it with *you*. Maybe, since I’m also “directionally challenged,” I would discover that I too could navigate there. πŸ˜‰ In any event, the exceedingly evocative images you’ve created in both your ink/watercolors and your weaving of words makes me feel I’ve walked and wondered right there with you. Thanks!


    1. Oh, thank you Kathryn! I’m so glad you felt you were there too. We did find it pretty challenging to start with, but it gradually came together. Realising that I could find my way around was a huge revelation, I have always felt pretty silly in that I can be turned around twice and I am lost!


  6. Now there’s a place I’ve had in the back of my mind to visit Anna . Your descriptions and anecdotes shared really take me into the bustle and frenetic atmosphere which I imagine to be a little like when we hired bikes and cycled round certain areas of Luxor on atrip some years ago .
    Haggling I’m with you … no no … I hate it … but they do expect it don’t they …
    A riad sounds a perfect and glorious escape after all the excitement of the senses being bombarded πŸ™‚
    Nice energetic feel to your sketches too Anna . Would love to see a stork building one of those sky high nests πŸ™‚


  7. It really was an interesting place Poppy – but it took a bit of getting used to! I would recommend it though, especially since you have been a bit acclimatised by Luxor! Just those names conjure up so many romantic storybook ideas … the storks were amazing, on some ruins there was a row of them, all with their huge messy nests!


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