For anyone who is vaguely familiar with Hitchcocks repertoire of classic films, you will hopefully guess the location of this next entry.
For those of you who haven’t grasped it, I am deliberating the Rose City, the crown of North Africa, Marrakech. The exciting part about my oncoming expedition to visit contrasting corners of the earth, is that my trip to Marrakech has been my only departure from Europe. What’s even more exciting is that Marrakech is my favourite destination I have visited so far in my life, with some dodgy pseudoscience I have calculated in my mind that the further afield I depart from a small town in Somerset, the more I should appreciate and give thanks to the beauty of the world.
I visited Marrakech with my family last May, it was a vacation used to celebrate my triumph of achieving a mediocre 2:1 at University.
We didn’t get off to the best start. We landed with no sign of our pre-arranged taxi to pick us up from the Airport to then take us to the Riad. After much deliberation we managed to use somebody’s phone to contact the Riad and organise for somebody to pick us up. This act of generosity by said person was to cast light on the generosity and kindness of the Moroccan people we encountered thoughout the remainder of our visit.
I want to do a 10 Do’s and 10 Don’ts list which I can appreciate looks lazy from the eyes of somebody reading a blog but I think it is appropriate for a post on Marrakech.
- Visit the Medina at night – with magicians and performances in every corner of the square, there is no doubt you will be entertained until the sun begins to rise.
- Get an excursion to the Atlas mountains – It can cost a pretty penny, but the climb and magnificnet landscape once you reach a pivitol point in the mountain is something that you will remember forever.
- Soak up the Souks – The souks of Marrakech are a fun way to spend an afternoon. Practise your bargaining skills against the market sellers, they’ll appreciate your efforts, but will ultimately come out on top.
- Get a Hammam – I had never heard of a Hammam before visiting this city. A relaxing and theraputic spa and massage outlet. It is a perfect way to escape the heat and re-charge!
- The Oasis of Oasiria- Escape the busyness of the city and get a 10 minute taxi to Oasiria water park. A perfect way to cool down and enjoy a touristy attraction. Don’t forget the suncream though.
- Jardin Majorelle – Visit Yves Saint Laurents garden in the suburb of the city, with exotic plants, museums and fine Arabic art, you couldn’t find a more luxurious way to spend an afternoon.
- Spice up your life – It wouldn’t be the same if you left Marrakech without a couple of grams of Spices in your suitcase. Be prepared to be drawn into the shops by the keepers Chameleons outside . Purchase one of hundreds of different goods. My choice was black cumin to help control my relentless snoring.
- Stay at a Riad – Marrakech is so unique in it’s architecture and cityscape it wouldn’t feel right staying in a modernised hotel on the suburbs of the city. The staff who worked at Riad Zanzibar were nothing but polite, helpful and friendly as I’m sure the rest of the citys Riads are
- Explore the alleys – The thing that let me down whilst in Marrakech was the lack of flavour in the meals I eat near Jemaa El Fna (Main Square) to really get a taste of Morocco submurge yourself deep into the nooks and crannys of the Old Town to gorge on a full-flavoured tagine.
- Engage with the locals – They love you. They want to be your friend, and not just because they want to sell you something but because they are interested in you. Speaking a little French and making an effort to pay respect to their culture will go a long way in their eyes.
- Eat at a restaurant in the main square. The food is Americanised, bland and quite frankly you can find better.
- Take pictures of snake charmers, they will try and charge you up to £20 for the pleasure, an extortiante amount!
- Forget to try the orange juice. There are hundreds of stalls selling freshly squeezed, local picked oranges for about 20p a cup. You will be calling for refills with each hour that passes.
- Take the locals too seriously. Yes they will offer 2 camels in trade for your sister, they are just being friendly and wanting to engage in conversation.
- Expect something for nothing. The seemingly helpful children who want to guide you to the next attraction aren’t doing it for fun, they will expect to be paid handsomely for the pleasure.
- Drink tap water or water from the markets. They will reuse chucked away bottles to sell on for a high price. Always make sure the lid hasn’t been tampered with before buying water anywhere.
- Ride a camel. Sure it looks fun, but the camels are too hot and can’t be bothered. Leave them be, they are tired and the thought of another screaming tourist riding on the back of you is more than enough to give you the hump.
- Be tight. When bartering market sellers will offer you a ridiculously high price for a product, which they will then expect you to counter offer to something more reasonable, but don’t take the mick, they do need to earn a living. Be respectful.
- Forget a map. It is nearly impossibe to navigate around the city as most places don’t have street signs.
- Forget to listen out for the call of prayer. It is magical to witness especially throughout the different times of the day.