As I mentioned last year, Othman and I have a tradition of spending a weekend in Marrakech just before I go to the USA every summer. Well I'm off to the US on Sunday, and we stuck to tradition last weekend! I was actually lucky enough to have won a free night for two at Riad Quara during a themed photo contest held by PAGES in late April, so we had somewhere to stay for free, which is of course never a bad thing. We had heard a lot about the riad and were very excited to go.
We left once my Saturday classes got over at 5pm, and were in Marrakech around 8. The riad is located in the middle of the medina, behind Jmaa El Fnaa, and for those of you who have ventured there you know what kind of twisty alleyways that area is made up of. Despite Othman asking the way many times we walked with our bags for almost an hour trying to find it, and by then I was in a thoroughly bad mood. But then... we walked into this:
The employee who greeted us was calm and sweet, and brought us into a small room lined with Moroccan couches to rest for a bit. She came with a huge teapot and intricately decorated silver receptacle that was essentially a bucket (but I can't call it that because it was so much more) and poured orange blossom scented water for us to wash our hands. A few minutes later she reappeared with tea and cakes.
By now you might be able to imagine that my bad mood was quickly dissipating. The longer I stayed on that couch, listening to the trickle of the fountain in the open air courtyard, still smelling the orange blossom, sipping my tea, the lighter I felt. As I looked around I started appreciating the details of the architecture and decor.
I wasn't the least impatient to get up to our room. But when we did, and were greeted by this, Othman and I looked at each other, totally impressed, and oh-so-thankful to the riad's owners for having chosen my picture in the contest!
The little bathroom wasn't to be outdone by the bed though!
One thing I loved about the room was its lack of a TV— it would have been so incongruous with the rest of the place and an eyesore for sure. And who would want to watch TV in a room like that? We also never even inquired about wifi, which is usually the first question we ask. I guess we were enveloped in the riad's charm right from the start.
We had a wonderful, fancy dinner out that night, and woke up the next morning well rested and refreshed. Breakfast was included in the stay, so we made our way up the stairs...
through an open door...
onto the balcony.
We thought it couldn't get much better but clearly we were wrong! While Othman went downstairs to talk to the employee about my food allergies, requesting different things for breakfast than the standard fare (which she obligingly said was no problem at all), I hung out taking pictures, noticing this lil guy.
I guess we were hungry, so I didn't get a nice picture of all the breakfast laid out (it was fit for a king let me tell you), but you can see my contented face at least!
I loved this touch— the Moroccan tea glass covers. Tea glasses get burning hot and there's a method to holding them, but many (most?) tourists wouldn't be aware of that, so it's very thoughtful of the riad to save our fingers! I might be used to drinking tea but I was happy with the adjustment!
During breakfast Othman made a friend too!
By the time we were done with breakfast and ready to go out shopping in the medina it was nearly time for us to check out, but our car was far off and we didn't want our things sitting in it roasting in the sun. The riad once again was incredibly accommodating, and let us keep our things in the room while we shopped. When we got back a couple hours later, they let me wait downstairs with our things while Othman went and got the car to bring it closer. The thick walls created a real oasis, and the only sounds I could hear were the neighbor kids playing, birds singing, and the fountain bubbling. I wasn't even tempted to distract myself with my phone-- instead I wandered, taking pictures of the details, and when I was done with that, simply sat and enjoyed the peace for what it was.
I photographed the beautiful walls,
the intriguing lamps,
the courtyard I couldn't get enough of, now with a daytime view,
the room we had been welcomed into the night before,
and the flowers that were bright, beautiful, sweet smelling and everywhere.
When Othman arrived, saying the car was now in the nearby parking lot, I was sad to leave, but not too sad. I know we'll be back.