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Digital Subscriptions > Newsweek International > 15th July 2016 > SOUK UP THE RAYS


Morocco’s most exciting city even has some peaceful hideaways

AN HOUR AFTER my plane lands at Marrakech’s gleaming, modern international airport, I find myself stuck in a huge traffic jam. My taxi inches forward, navigating donkey carts, pedestrians with towering bundles on their shoulders, battered saloon cars from the 1950s, camels, horse-drawn wagons and hundreds of weaving, swerving mopeds. At a major intersection near the center of the city, a traffic policeman waves his arms but has little hope of controlling the wonderful chaos.

The city’s thrilling energy and its proximity to Europe have drawn generations of affluent European travelers. Winston Churchill visited, as did Édith Piaf, Maurice Chevalier and Yves Saint Laurent (who bought the lovely Villa Majorelle and whose ashes are buried in its gardens). Hippies and rock stars came in the ’60s and ’70s, and it remains a lure for celebrities. The draw has always been the same: a unique mixture of urban intensity with the sense of escaping to a magical, distant place.

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Can Europe Save Itself? - On the morning after the Brexit vote, a dazed Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, a body consisting of the heads of government of the 28 countries in the European Union, was asked to react to the historic vote. Ironically, he quoted Friedrich Nietzsche, the 19th-century philosopher whose work influenced the rise of German militarism that led to two world wars - the conflagrations the EU was designed to prevent from happening again. “What doesn’t kill you,” Tusk proclaimed, “makes you stronger.”