Not the place for an uneventful and relaxing respite, Morocco is a full force, high energy explosion of sensory stimuli. The heat is intense, the sights are striking, the soundtrack is boisterous and the smells are overwhelming.
In the medina of Marrakech, running schoolchildren vie with rickety, overburdened donkey carts, reckless mopeds and ladies with bread baskets balanced atop elegantly swathed heads. Towering technicolor spice mounds, soft leather babouches and intricate glass lanterns line the narrow alleyways of the souks.
At night, the medina’s main square, Djemaa El-Fna, comes to life with vendors selling street cuisine of every flavor imaginable. Snake charmers, acrobats, and curiously costumed water sellers add to the parade of oddities.
Marrakech also has a modern side, called Gueliz, or the Ville Nouvelle, full of swank restaurants, nightclubs and designer shopping. The collections at Majorelle Gardens and the Museum of Islamic Art are worth perusing there.
Fès is the ancient heart of Morocco, its onetime capital and one of the eldest extant medieval cities on earth. The medina here is immense and tortuously Byzantine, and is best navigated with the help of a knowledgeable guide. The mind-boggling (and pungent) palette of the tanneries’ leather-dyeing pits are a rightfully famous vision to behold.
To escape from the delirious frenzy of the cities, hike the majestic snow-shrouded peaks of the High Atlas or venture into the burnished golden sand-scapes of the Sahara on camelback.
However you choose to spend your time in Morocco, you will leave with kaleidoscopic memories of the striking desert landscapes, the vivid dynamism of the markets and the awe-inspiring hospitality of a people remarkably sincere in their quickness to welcome wayfarers of every sort.