Winter sun in London is a rare sight and occurs mostly on the coldest days because of the lack of cloud cover. I have always been a person who loves sunny warm weather and I dread the cold winter months, especially January and February. Normally we get away for half term in February to a place far away from the grey London skies. This year was looking to be difficult to escape then so instead we booked a weeks break over New Years Eve to Marrakesh, Morocco. Temperatures there would be chilly in the evening, we knew, but during the day in December it is generally sunny and around mid 15C, more on some days. It had been a while since our last visit to this amazing town in North Africa. In fact the last time had been when I was pregnant with Jerome twelve years earlier. On that trip we had stayed in the same hotel as we planned for this visit, the Caravanserai.
It is an oasis away from the hustle and bustle of the Medina, and unlike the artificialness of the Palmerai luxury chain hotels. Some people might be put off by the hotel’s location as it is in a little village, surrounded by local houses. The hotel is actually housed in an old Caravanserai, and was in times gone by the last roadside inn for camel caravans before reaching Marrakesh. The one day camel ride is now easily covered in a minibus in twenty minutes.
When we arrived we found that the hotel had not lost any of its beauty, the blush-pink, smooth plastered walls centred round the swimming pool remained as we remembered. With only sixteen rooms it has an intimate feel. Our spacious suite felt private with our own terrace. Two suites even have their own pool and we had been lucky to have one of these on our last visit. Jerome was in awe when he saw the main pool, unfortunately the water was only about 5C reflecting the temperature overnight, so was far too cold to even dip your feet in for more than a little while.
We had arrived just in time for New Years Eve dinner, a small romantic affair with just two other couples in the dining room. We had a table next to the fireplace with a blazing log fire to drive off the cool air, but we were glad to have brought some warm clothes; the houses are really not well designed for cold chilly winter nights more for the summer heat. We ate a menu of local dishes: chick pea soup, followed by delicious lemon chicken tagine and cake for dessert. Jerome quickly befriended one of the cats, Mischka, who lives at the hotel. I am allergic to cats, even though I adore them and grew up with them, luckily not extremely, but I could already feel that my nose started to itch. Just as well that I did bring some anti histamines just in case of animals. The cat just happily lazed on Jerome’s lap during dinner and afterwards while we played some card games.
We did not expect much in terms of fireworks and being out of the town centre we knew it was not really worth staying up late for New Year. However, in the end we went out onto the balcony to see the few rockets light up briefly over Marrakesh town in the distance just as midnight came.
The next morning we got up just in time for the end of breakfast. Jerome fascinatedly watched the woman cook pancakes on a little stove besides the dining room. Normally pancakes are his favourite food for breakfast he did not like the Moroccan version preferring the eggs, bread, honey and jam. Chris and I indeed liked the pancakes, one type almost like soft puff pastry and the other a soft fluffy more traditional style, and we had them every morning during the rest of our stay.
We had not planned to go into town on our first day, plus the complementary bus had already left at ten o’clock. We planned a lazy day by the pool. Luckily Jerome had spotted a pool table in one of the adjoining rooms next to the pool area and immediately wanted to play a few rounds with Chris. I collected our Kindle readers and some card games from the room, grabbed two of the free sun loungers beside the pool and I lay down to read my book. In the sun! The sun was hot, hotter than I thought it would be. I could understand why other guests were there in t-shirts and shorts. I was almost tempted to grab my bikini and sunbathe. We had a lazy afternoon, with lunch at the poolside. Finally, the sun kept dropping behind parts of the building so we moved place to catch the last rays. Upstairs, outside our room, was an alcove with Moroccan style sofas and we moved there as it was still facing the sun. I remembered that last time we stayed we had spent all day in the garden, but unfortunately the trees have grown so much since that there is no sunny spots left. It is probably great in the heat of the summer, but not for this time of year.
Somehow time seemed to pass quickly and we started to get chilly and moved inside. Jerome enjoyed a laze in the huge smooth stone bathtub. The room was warm with adequate heating so we were fine to change and go down for dinner. Mischka, the cat joined Jerome again. I could see the two seemed smitten by each other.
For the next day we planned to go into Marrakesh town, to do some shopping and see some of the sights. Read more about it in my next post.