Friday, January 14, 2011

Radisson Blu awarded best national and international hotel chain

Photo: Radisson SAS Scandinavia Hotel, Copenhagen by Mulad
Radisson Blu has been awarded best national and international hotel chain in the Norwegian Grand Travel Award by Norwegian agents. Radisson Blu, former Radisson Sas Hotels, was taken over by German Rezidor Group a few years ago. Rezidor is also running the Park Inn hotels.

I have stayed at several Radisson and Park Inn hotels. I have had mixed experiences. Here are stories on Radisson Blu and Park Inn hotels on Enjoy Food & Travel.   

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Jardin de Majorelle and the Yves Saint Laurent memorial

Pavilion painted in bleue Majorelle

Jardin de Majorelle or the Majorelle Garden is a secluded oasis in the middle of Marrakech. This is a place to visit if you want to relax from the busy streets in Gueliz, the modern part of the city and the commotion found in the narrow streets of the Medina.  

Yves Saint Laurent Memorial
The garden is named after its designer the expatriate French artist Jacques Majorelle (1886-1962) that created it in 1924.  The vegetation stands in contrast to pottery, and decorated walls in striking colours, like those appearing many places throughout North Africa. The most striking is the bold cobalt blue which he used extensively in the garden and its buildings is named after him, bleu Majorelle.

The garden opened to the public in 1947 and it has been owned by Yves Saint-Laurent and Pierre Bergé from 1980. Yves Saint Laurent's ashes were scattered in the Majorelle Garden when he died in 2008.
Forest of bamboo
The Islamic Art Museum of Marrakech is found at Jardin Majorelle. It includes North African textiles from Saint-Laurent's personal collection as well as ceramics, jewelry, and paintings by Majorelle.

The garden also is the home of more than 15 bird species, which can be found only in the area of North Africa.

When entering the garden you find yourself in a forest of tall bamboo, creating a mysterious illusion of being not in Morocco, but further east as in China or Japan. Bamboo are tall, thick grass that provides shade  from the harsh North African sun by the gateway into the garden.

Bismarckia Nobilis
In the middle of the bamboo is a small artificial brook lined with bright cobalt blue stone lining the canal

The strong blue colour is reflected mysteriously in the tall bamboo trunks.

We passed on our way a beautiful blue gray palm. It  is the Bismarckia Nobilis a palm tree endemic to western and northern Madagascar where they are found  in open grassland.
Date and Washingtonia palms

It is named after the German chancellor  Otto von Bismarck and the epithet for its only species, Bismarckia nobilis, comes from Latin for 'noble. '

And towering over the garden you see tall Washingtonia and Phoenix Dactylifera, the native date palm. The date palm is widely cultivated in North Africa, whereas the Washingtonia Palm is native to South Eastern United States.

The most beautiful spot is, in my opinion, the large pond. It is located by the brightly blue pavilion 

Here you find large cactii, as well as old yucca plants and agave. These are, strangely enough native to North America rather than North Africa.

Visiting the Majorelle Gardens is a welcome getaway when (or if) you get tired of the commotion of the Medina and need a retreat for a few hours. It is wonderful place to walk around, and you get a good meal here as well, as we did under the shade of the tall palm trees. 

Other gardens on Enjoy Food & Travel