Saturday, 27 February 2016

Marrakech Biennale - Opening Week

It was finally time for the 6th edition of the Marrakech Biennale to begin! We returned from Italy and Scandinavia to attend the opening week and all the amazing VIP parties going on in Marrakech. The Biennale started February 24th and will continue until May 8 so there is still time to visit Marrakech and enjoy all the great art. Installations, video, light, street art, photo, theatre, film, music and much more by international artists will take over the public (and private) spaces of the Red City. 

Welcome to the 6th edition of the Marrakech Biennale!

During it's 10 years the Marrakech Biennale has become one of the most exiting art and cultural events in the world and today it ranks among the top 20 (of a total of 170) biennales in the world! New York based artist Reem Fadda is the curator of the 2016 edition and the creative plattform for all artists is the theme "Not New Now".

Reem Fadda is the curator of the 6th edition and did an amazing job, here she is making a speach at the opening ceremony in the Bahia palace.

The opening week was hectic with a very interesting programme for the VIP patrons including curated tours, live performances, speaches and daily lunches, cocktails and dinners at beautiful venues around town. During the opening week artists, collectors, art lovers and the jet set pack flock to Marrakech to be inspired and to party. We were thrilled to join this fun crowd.

We are always happy to support cultural initiatives in Marrakech so of course we are proud patrons of the Marrakech Biennale and donating to this amazing event.

Our dear friend Vanessa Branson is the founder of the Marrakech Biennale and a lover of arts and Marrakech. Here we are enjoying drinks at her place, El Fenn.

Street art

More street art

We attented a long, luxurious and sunny lunch at the grand opening of Parc Sculpture at Al Maaden outside town.

Art at Al Maaden 

The grand opening gala dinner at La Mamounia was magical

Another evening beautiful Jnane Tamsna hoosted a gallery night

Meryanne Loum Martin, is a friend and the owner of Jnane Tamsna, here with Patrick at the gallery night.

Champagne cocktail at our favorite spot Royal Mansour

Jardin Majorelle hosted another cocktail evening in the lush garden of Yves Saint Laurent

The last dinner and party was held at Royal Palm. Here we are with fellow-Swede and big boss of the Biennale, Maria Sebant

Art at the Baldi Palace

Iron art work

But is it art?

The last day of the opening week we enjoyed a beautiful brunch at museum de palmeraie

It's been a great opening week - come explore for yourself before May 8

We sure enjoyed the opening week, what can go wrong with art and cocktails in brilliant company?

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Weekend in Italy

If we have another favorite country after Morocco (and Sweden) it would certainly be Italy! You have the delicious food, the great wines, the beautiful landscapes, the excellent climate, a vast and rich history and then there are all those nice fashion brands! What's not to like? So this week has been all about Italy. First there was a visit to the picturesque village of Arpino for a couple of days and after that a visit to the eternal city of Rome. 

The beautiful hill town of Arpino is just 100 km from Rome, with just under 8000 inhabitants and was founded over 2700 years ago.
Arpino is one of the major medieval hilltop towns in the heart of Italy called the Ciociaria. It's just one hour to Rome, one hour to Naples, one hour to the beach and one hour if you want to ski. You could also go to hunt truffles in the rolling hills surrounding Arpino. This enchanting town is a well-kept secret but is a place that provides a genuine Italian town experience for its visitors.
Arpino's history goes back over 2500 years and there are landmarks everywhere in the area.
Arpino's history is long and distinguished. It was first a settlement of a local tribe, the Volscians, in 7th to 6th centuries B.C. They built an ancient gate with a pointed arch that is almost 4 meters high and this is today the only existing one left in the world. Several famous people come from Arpino and the most prominent one is the Roman Cicero whose statue is in the main square of the village.

Arpino is gorgeous in the evenings and there are several nice restaurants surrounding the town square.

After the visit to Arpino it was time to explore the historical city of Rome once more! There are ancient buildings, monuments and statues just everywhere you look. The absolute favorite building is Pantheon that was built 2000 years ago as a temple for all the gods of pagan Rome. By the way, the front of Pantheon bears the inscription of Marcus Agrippa who is said to be a native of Arpino.

Rome is probably the most ancient city in all of Europe with so many impressive buildings and monuments everywhere. 

A quick visit to the Vatican is like a leg day at the gym - so many stairs!

Apart from all seeing all the historic parts of Rome you could also do lots of great shopping. Here is Prada's spring collection that looked a lot like the logo of Red City PR (our communications firm).
A trip to Rome means a lot of pasta and pizza!
Thank you Italy for this visit, we will come back soon again!
Viva Italia!

Saturday, 13 February 2016

The weather of Marrakech

One of the many reasons to come to Marrakech is the sunny and warm weather. Marrakech has over 300 (!) sunny days per year and very little rain. Spring is beautiful with orange and almond trees blossoming and temperatures of 25-30C. The summers are hot, really hot, peaking in July/August with sometimes up to 45C. But it is a dry heat so it is actually totally ok. Fall is also warm and beautiful. The coldest months are January and February when night temperatures can fall to 5-10C and it is also the rain period. Marrakech is an old desert oasis so as long as the sun is up it is warm and nice even during January and February but as soon as the sun sets the temperature drops dramtically.
Blue skies, sun and eternal summer - this picture is from January 2016, the coldest winter month, this year boasting 22-25c during day time.

When is best to visit Marrakech?
We sure love all seasons in Marrakech but when we are asked when is the best time to come we normally advise to visit September-November or March-June if you are looking for sun without too much heat. July and August is the hot and dry season and December, January and February are the coldest and wettest months.

Average temperatures in Marrakech

When we decided to make Marrakech our home we also decided that we wanted to stay in the city during all the seasons tp really experience the different climates over a year. So unlike most of our Marrakech friends we stayed in town also during Ramadan and the hot July/August months (with the occassional ocean break to Mirleft, Essaouira, Tangier and Lanzarote). Here is a summary of our first year in Marrakech from a weather point of view:

Winter (January-February)
We arrived January 17 to a suprisingly cold Marrakech. It was an unusually cold and rainy beginning of the year with some rain and grey skies. As soon as the sun was out we enjoyed 20-22C but the nights were cold. We were longing for the formal start of Moroccan spring in mid February.
Due to the rain there was a lot of snow in the mountains, here we are in the skiing resort Oukaimeden, a 1,5 hour drive from Marrakech.

The nights were chilly beginning 2015 and we got to wear our Djellabas.
December, January and February is rain season in the Red City
Spring (March-May)
A beautiful spring arrived a bit late in March. It was an explosion of green and lush fields, flowers and beauty. This is a great time to travel in Morocco and experience the landscape in full bloom.

Marrakech is fantastic during the spring

Spring is a great time to travel, both on the countryside and to the Sahara desert.

Green lush fields

Summer (June-August)
Summer is always hot. June was nice, July partly hot peaking at 45C but after that there were some nice winds and actually a very nice summer weather with around 30C. There were some crazy short rain falls causing some flooding in the city.
Hot summer days 
One of our favorite spots in July, Palais Selman

Ocean break to coastal town Essaouira

Relaxing at Peacock Pavilions

Fall (September-November)
We enjoyed a beautiful fall with constant sun and 25-30C. No rain att all, which is bad for the agriculture and skiresorts but good for tourism in general.
Fall in Marrakech is an amazing season!
Roof top dining is great during fall

During October/November both saffron and olives are harvested.
And when 2015 came to an end and the winter months begun again we were suprised how warm and sunny these Deceber-February months were compared to 2015. We have had 20-25C and sun all days also during January/February 2016 and mild nights. 

We sure love the stable and sunny weather of Morocco and Marrakech!

Keep shining!

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

A typical day at Riad Arabe

A lot of people have asked us; so what is a typical day like for you now that you are living in Marrakech? The lives we lead here in Morocco is certainly a lot different from our busy corporate business lifestyles we had back in Stockholm. So we thought we would try to describe one of those ordinary days at Riad Arabe, our home in the Red City.

A typical sunset in the Red City

7.00-7.30 am
If we haven't already been woken up by the morning prayer calls from the nearby mosques we normally wake up at around 7 o'clock and begin the day with doing some social media post uploads for Red City PR as well as in our own channels. Then we get up and take our dog Disco for his usual morning walk around the medina where he always finds something new and interesting to smell or bark at.

Rachida works full-time to take care of everything at Riad Arabe, from preparing breakfast to paying the electric bills. She's a gem!

8.00 am
Our housekeeper Rachida usually arrrives to the Riad at 8.00 and immediately starts to prepare our breakfast. On the weekdays she makes omelette with orange juice and coffee and serves that with greek youghurt. On the weekends she's also serving us moroccan bread and french pancakes. While she is preparing the breakfast in the kitchen we let the two turtoises, Vincent and Valerie, out of their cage and feed them 3-4 lettuce leaves that they eat up as soon as they have warmed up by the morning sun.

Our mischevious pets Valerie & Vincent

8.30 am
We eat our breakfast on our roof terrace that has views of the Koutoubia mosque and the medina roof tops. Disco is always trying to look cute so he will get a piece of our omelettes or some cheese which always fails until Rachida comes along to clear the table and throw him some leftovers.

Disco is trying to do some cute tricks to get some of our leftovers 

9.00 am
After breakfast we take a walk to our gym at the hotel Palais Es Saadi that is located in Hivernage, a 20 minute brisk walk through the medina from our house. We walk pass the souk and watch all the shop owners prepare their businesses for yet another busy day.

A walk in the magical mystical medina of Marrakech is always an adventure

9.30 am
We arrive at the gym and if our personal trainer Youssef is there we usually do some cardio but if our other personal trainer Abdo is working we do some muscle workout. Normally the gym is quite emply but now and again we run in to different celebrities who happens to stay at the hotel.

A hard work-out with our personal trainer Abdo

11.00 am
After the work-out we take a taxi to our french or arabic class in the new town, Gueliz, where we have 90 minutes of language training. Usually we haven't been good students with our homework so we have to repeat alot.

We are trying to be good students

1.00 pm
After the class we take a walk to the centre of the new town, Gueliz, where we do our errands at the shops, post-office and grocery store before we find a good lunch restaurant. Quite often we end up at Café de la Grand Poste or The Loft where we usually have a chicken salad.

Grand Café de la Poste in Gueliz is a favourite lunch restautant

2.00-2.30 pm
We come back to Riad Arabe where we have a coffee on the roof terrace. Now we have our normal office hours when we do most of our practical work for the companies we work for, mainly Red City PR. We prepare business plans, communications strategies, co-ordinate designs of new logos and photo shoots. Simultanously we are trying to befriend our roof cat we started to call Kim (since we don't know it it's a boy or a girl) and that we started to buy cat food for. Kim seemes really pleased with this set-up and comes back everyday in the afternoons to check his bowl.

This is Kim, our new pet and roof cat. If he is lucky he sometimes gets some milk with his food.

6.30-7.00 pm
The sun start to set and we enjoy another magical colourful sunset accompanied with the calls for prayers from the neighbouring mosques.

We have the most fantastic sunsets at our roof terrace

8.00 pm
At eight o'clock it is dinner time and if not Rachida has prepared a deliscious three-course Moroccan dinner we go out to some favourite restaurant like the Italian I Limoni or the more posh restaurant at Hotel La Sultana. We usually have friends over or we meet up at a restaurant.

Dinner at home!

11.00 pm
We get back from the dinner and get ready for bed and prepare for a new day.

Goodnight from Riad Arabe!
So, that is how a typical day could look like. But normally there are so many things going on in this city that you have to be prepared that your whole day is turn over and you end up doing something entirely different instead. Like fixing the drains for several hours when the rain is pouring down or getting a mission from Rachida to buy a new mixer or having a new client who wants a meeting at once. You just have to be prepared for anything!