Sophisticated Living Indianapolis

JUL-AUG 2012

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donkeys" laden with cans full of gasoline pass by, the beauty of the city revealed itself. At the source of a fresh mountain spring that cascades down the mountain, children played and women tended to their daily laundry. Hiking up into the hills, we observed women baking bread in a communal oven and a pick-up soccer match taking place on the outskirts of an ancient cemetery. Casa Hassan, a charming guesthouse decorated with unique art and craftwork characteristic of the region, is an ideal spot for exploring the city's many treasures. On the mountainous, windy road leading to Rabat, the country's capital and its third largest city, scrubland gave way to coniferous forest and meandering streams. Travel by road can be arduous, particularly when stuck behind a slow- moving truck on narrow two-lane roads. Located on the Atlantic Ocean at the mouth of the river Bou Regreg, Rabat is primarily an administrative city. Close to the Royal Palace and the Mausoleum of Mohammed V, the five-star Sofitel Rabat Jardin des Roses hotel combines contemporary luxury with classic Moroccan architecture motifs. Housed within a 1960s-era tower, the nondescript exterior gives no hint of the interior's chic confines. Te gleaming marble-floored lobby includes a handful of high- end boutiques that cater to its well-heeled clientele. At the 42 far end of the space, near the entrance to 17-acres of gardens dotted with some 3,000 roses, a chandelier of Murano "bubbles" is suspended over a tranquil water feature. One of the more memorable experiences during our time in Rabat, which included visits to the Hassan Tower Mausoleum and Chellah Necropolis, was dinner at Restaurant Le Ziryab. Located in Rue des Consuls in the heart of the medina, we were met at our car by a man in traditional attire carrying a lantern, who led us through a maze of ancient alleyways to the restaurant. Te deft hands of a lone musician playing a lotar, a Moroccan guitar, provided the soundtrack for the evening as we dined on an abundant, multi-course meal of traditional fare, including cooked salads, lamb and chicken tangine, couscous and pastila. The remainder of our trip were spent in the bustling city of Marrakech, the most important former imperial city, and home to both the largest Berber souk in Morocco and Djemaa el Fna, one of the busiest open-air squares and market places in the world. Reflecting the dichotomy of old and new, our home base for two nights was the Four Seasons Hotel Marrakech, a calming, contemporary compound spread over 40-acres of Moorish gardens a short walk from the ancient ramparts of the medina.

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