Marrakesh: City of Hustle and Havens

This pink-walled maze glows with a frenetic energy that makes NYC seem lazy. Outside in the streets, getting lost is inevitable, goods spill from every corner, and negotiating is the norm. Behind the walls, inner courtyards and gardens provide quiet spaces of calm. The synergistic relationship between what’s happening outside and what happens inside makes Marrakesh work.

The center of the hustle is Jemma el-Fnaa–the main square and market place in the center of medina–frequented by both tourists and locals alike. Rows of fresh juice stands, tall mounds of spiced nuts, smoking grills covered in kebobs, henna artists, snake-charmers, storytellers, Berber musicians: here you’ll be well fed and always entertained. And while the offerings are eclectic, there is a shared sense of energy, culture and community that is impossible to deny.

Radiating out from the square is a network of souks: think commerce on crazy pills. Stalls covered in rich colors, patterned textiles, illuminated lanterns. Selling the new and the old, the authentic and the manufactured–but always selling. A place designed for both freedom to wander, and the intent to buy.

All of this merchandise madness happens facing out, but turn inside or up, and you’ll find quiet spaces of chill. Step through a wooden doorway, down a narrow path and suddenly it’s calm. The lush green courtyard of restaurant Le Jardin, the open-air rooftop cafe at Nomad, spaces that serve as the antidote.

Marrakesh is a place that intuitively understands what people need–communal experiences and individual moments, highs and lows, action and rest, spaces to do and spaces to be.