Welcome to Marrakech, also known to many as The Rose City. What an incredible location this is — ranking for me among the most beautiful stops we’ve made on the “Where in the World is Matt Lauer?” journeys.
FIRST, A BIT about my trip here. We left Rio de Janeiro just minutes after the show ended, and were on our way by 11 a.m. local time. The flight was a long one — almost 10 hours — but it gave me plenty of time to read through my notes and scripts for day two.
We arrived in Marrakech just after midnight local time. We were greeted in a customary Moroccan fashion — with sweet mint tea poured into glasses from a traditional teapot. It is considered impolite to turn down an offer of this tea. We all sat together as we waited for our passports to clear and enjoyed the fragrant drink.
The drive to the hotel was not long, and offered a nighttime look at some of the city’s ramparts — the pink stone lit by flood lights around the perimeter. The temperature was perfect and the air smelled wonderful. All in all it was a wonderful welcome to Marrakech.
When I woke up this morning, I stepped out onto the terrace of my room at the Grand La Mamounia hotel and saw the beautiful gardens, manicured lawns and a clear blue swimming pool. This hotel — which has played host to everyone from Winston Churchill to Tom Cruise — is truly spectacular, and one I would love to return to with my family some day.
After a quick breakfast and a stop at the “Today” show make-shift office, I headed off to the Souk — a bustling marketplace where you can find everything from slippers to a sheep’s head. I only hope the sights, sounds and smells of the Souk translated on television.
Our special thanks to Ambassador Margaret Tutwiler, who joined us for a segment about U.S. relations with Morocco, and to all the local experts and craftspeople that shared their knowledge.
Today’s show was split between the Souk and La Mamounia. Our arrival back at the hotel was just in time for gift giving to my colleagues: a caftan for Ann, a tea set for Katie and a hand-crafted wooden box for Al. A local restaurateur joined me for a taste of Moroccan cuisine — complete with cous cous, a tagine and all the authentic spices. Before we knew it — and all too soon — it was time to say goodbye to Marrakech and all its wonders.
As we head off for day three, we all reflect on the kindness of the people we have just met — truly some of the most gracious hosts we’ve had throughout our travels. I am looking forward to our next stop, and will always remember the beauty of Morocco.