Exotic Marrakesh

Travel Destinations — By on March 11, 2009 at 7:03 pm

Marrakesh. The name conjures up images of winding souks, ancient palaces, desert winds, and perhaps even a snake charmer or two. It’s an exotic destination, even more so when you’re visiting with your 11- and 12-year-old children. That’s what Jennifer Conlin and her husband did recently, and their experience is beautifully recounted in this travel article.

It was cocktail hour, and what better place to spend it than on the rooftop terrace of Cafe Arabe, watching the sun set over Marrakesh. With my two companions, Charles and Florence, I settled into one of the plump white sofas decorated with silky orange throw pillows, as above us a patchwork of cream-colored cloth squares, each bordered by the darkening blue sky, fluttered like a hundred sailing kites.

Below us lay a sea of terra-cotta and ruby roofs, interrupted only by the gap of a courtyard, a towering palm tree or a glistening mosque, with the outline of the Atlas Mountains framing the horizon. All of us were mesmerized by the scene in front of us. “Pretty,” Florence said. “Wow,” Charles chimed in.

“Time for a drink,” I declared, thirsty after an afternoon of shopping in the medina below. Moments later, my husband, Daniel, arrived, fresh from carpet bargaining and more than ready to try the minty mojitos I’d just ordered. “Cheers,” Florence said, lifting a concoction of orange, lemon and peach juice. “To more trips like this one,” Charles added, taking a sip of his frothy strawberry and plum drink. “To your first mocktail hour,” I added, clinking glasses with my 12-year-old daughter and 11-year-old son.

Though friends had urged us to take a “couple’s” trip to Marrakesh and leave the children behind (it is one of the world’s most romantic places, combining the best of African and European design), we had a different plan in mind…

My worries that the kids were too young for such an exotic trip evaporated the moment we entered the city. Driving past donkeys laden with food baskets and camels saddled for rides, they asked questions about everything from the djellabas, the traditional long, loose-hooded robes worn by the men, to the history of the Seven Saints — seven large, three-story-high towers on the edge of the city that bear the tombs of different saliheen, or righteous men, from the 12th to 16th century. Up one street they noticed a man in a turban carrying a snake, down another a monkey in a fez. All that was missing was a genie flying past on a Berber rug.

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