Prepare to get all your sense slapped in the face. Marrakesh is big, bold, beautiful and has enough to keep your eyes occupied for days. If you can handle the constant daze of colours, noise and smells and, if like me, you dont like being bored, then you’ll find a happy home in Marrakesh.
Don’t worry about getting lost
The souks, on first appearance can be a daunting prospect. You’ll be lost in an endless labyrinth of small alleys and, after a little while the piles of lamps, teapots, pottery, shoes and spices will all blend into one and you will, at some point, feel a little overwhelmed. It’s ok! The majority of the souks will have signs pointing towards the Djemma El Fna, aka “The Big Square”. If you get lost at any point, just ask for directions to ‘Big Square’ or follow the signs and you’ll be free in no time.
Do get inspired
The bright colours, the patterns, the smells and the endless tile porn is just incredible. Make sure you capture everything of Instagramable Marrakesh and photograph the shit out of everything.
Don’t use a cycle!
I made the mistake on going on a cycle tour and it was possibly one of the scariest things I’ve ever done (including that time I was hold up in a Vietnamese taxi and robbed!!). The roads are INSANE, the scooters are worse than your average London courier, people walk into the street without looking, or caring. What’s worse is that my “Viator” approved supplier didn’t give us any lights, high vis and a poor excuse for a helmet so come 7pm when it got dark, cycling became intensely dangerous. I have the scratches and scars to prove it.
Do eat everything you see
The freshest and sweetest orange juice flows like tap water here, plus considering a glass is around £1, it’s never been so easy and delicious to get your daily vit C hit.
You’ll likely get bored of Tagine but stick with it. There are loads of different kinds of tagine, from chicken and lemon, beef and dates or lamb and veg. I had a life changing onion and ras eu hanout pancake wrap. Desserts are of the French variety so get ready for Muille Fuille and classic French patisserie.
Don’t be a mug!
If you can’t haggle, learn to! If you see something you like in a stall, don’t be scared to show your interest. Whatever price you’re presented with, cut it in halve and then start to negotiate. It’s ok to quibble over the last 5 MAD by the way. If you can’t get that last sliver of money, start to walk out, if the vendor wants to make the sale that much, he’ll secede. If not, go back in 5 minutes and try again. I got a 1000MAD would-be-jewellery box for 300MAD so work hard for what you want!
Do take the time to visit Amals Women Centre.
Two years ago Amal Non for profit was set up as a non profit organisation to help disadvantaged women how to cook and enter into the hospitality industry. Since then, their restaurant has shot to number two on Trip Advisor and their famous ‘Friday Royal cous-cous’ has people queuing out the door. Join a 300MAD cooking class and learn how to make Moroccan whiskey (sweet green and mint tea) and a traditional Moroccan dish of your choice as well as learning about countryside herbal/natural remedies used throughout the country.
Don’t dismiss the amazing restaurants
I’m the WORST for wanting everything super cheap and eating street food wherever I can, put the fact is, there are a beautiful small selection of exciting modern Moroccan style restaurants popping up in Marrakesh. I always associate restaurants with higher prices, but actually the quality of the food is almost outshone by the low prices. Café Des Epices has the most incredible lamb meatballs (Kefta and tomatoes tagine) not to mention the best views of the spice souks on sunny little roof terrace. Nomad brings traditional Moroccan to your table in a fresh a modern way. I was served the tastiest buttery couc-cous I’ve ever had along with an orange and almond cake good enough to sin for. Pepe Nero Moroccan/Italian mix was the ultimate splurge of the week but that chocolate fondant will forever haunt me and so will always be worth the cash.
Don’t be a tourist (blend in)
Remember that you’re in a Muslim country so keep shoulders, chest and knees covered. Out of respect anyway.
Note for women:
Even though I was covered up in baggy shapless clothes I still got dirty comments. Being a VWE chunky and funky boobie lady, you just have to ignore the comments about ‘tits’ and ‘plump ass’. But if you get any grabbing (as I did), don’t let them get away with it. Men do it because they think they can get away with it and unwanted physical contact is NOT OK, regardless of where you travel.
Do remember to use all your currency before you go.
The Moroccan Dirham (MAD) is a closed currency so you might struggle to change you left over money when you get home. On the topic of cash, ATMs are available in the Djemma El Fna but you’ll struggle finding them anywhere else.
Don’t take the Moroccans too seriously.
On first appearance, Moroccans look a little intimidating but actually they have a wicked dry sense of humour. On the way back to the airport, our taxi driver quizzed us on hilarious riddles and jokes, waiters would play funny little tricks on you and even shop owners will make a funny response if you’re haggling too hard.
Do remember to have plenty of coins on you. 1/5/10’s will be handy
Most attractions are between 10 and 50 MAD and a lot of places wont be able to break a 50 or 100 note. Small coins are also handy for tipping and such.
Don’t forget to agree on a taxi price before you get in!
Just like haggling in the souks, you can haggle in taxis too. When you’re in your hotel enquire about how much a local would pay from A to B and try to match that price.
Do set your watches by the call to pray
The call to pray will wake you up at 4/5am and you’ll hear the whole city cry out at 12/3/5 and 8ish too. It’s a handy way to know roughly what time it is. If you’ve never heard the Adhan before, it’s a strange noise but, it all adds to the ambiance.
Do take a day trip tp Essaouira
Marrakesh is crazy and it overwhelms all the senses, so I would reccomend taking a little day trip to Essaouria and enjoy the most picture perfect seaside town you’ll ever see and to breathe some fresher clean air.
DO HAVE ALLLLLL THE FUN Marrakesh really stole my heart, and i can’t wait to explore more of Morocco