Marrakech is a beautiful place. Full of wonder, mystery, smells, a bit of dirt, and beautiful people (mainly young women). Unfortunately when I visited Marrakech it was my first week away travelling, and due to my lack of experience prior to travelling I did not fill my week there with activities and places to visit. I know, total amateur. (First mistake).
We stayed in a riad. (Potential second mistake.) A beautiful and quaint riad. Unfortunately in the upgraded room water started leaking from somewhere above the toilet. Note, a riad is a guest house with a centre courtyard, some are larger than others and many have centre pools and water features. You cannot hear the hustle and bustle of the outside world, it is very relaxing. The riad I chose, because I was given,stupidly, full planning access, was at the edge of the old town. Past the souks. Smelly backstreets. People spitting. People drunk. Sometimes dangerous. And, where the women tut at you because you have ‘Berber’ hair. The riad’s name is Riad Dar Nabila. It was really pretty and cultural (i’m not sure if I can really describe a riad as cultural, maybe just very Moroccan(?)). If you are on a tight budget, or even if you just want to battle through the Souks every night to get home from the main Square – Book this!
On the first night we got there, when I arrived in wedges and a short skirt, straight hair, sunglasses on head, and a pink suitcase (you can imagine the Moroccans faces can you not?), I literally encapsulated the word blasphemy in my very essence of being (third mistake). We then ventured out. I changed. Obviously. (Tip # 1) We were attempting to make our way to the main square, we found a young man who was willing to take us there. We stupidly thought this was a fantastic idea. Luckily for us, our host at the Riad had told us some general directions to the main square. When the man started taking us down dark alley ways with drunk men… We were skeptical to say the least. I was shaking with fear, on the inside, we don’t show feelings to strangers, or even close people (ever!!) We managed to tell him NON (in the best French accent we could muster – don’t get any ideas, it wasn’t synchronised or anything). And got away. I think we gave up on the square that night. People in Marrakech do this a lot, they take you somewhere and demand payment, never let them take you always try and find your own way or have a map etc, or an app I guess.
During the next few days we spent a lot of time eating at Toubkal (it is on the square and is so cheap and brilliant quality food – ensure you tip or the waiters get grumpy (fourth mistake)). Their lamb tagine. The. Best. Ever. We ate there everyday for lunch and dinner. It probably cost us £6 per meal for two. And the person I visited with ate a lot. Not to mention I also eat a lot. Be careful on the square however. (Tip # 2) men have monkeys in chains on their shoulders, if you catch their eye, or they see you looking, they will come over to you and put the monkey on you without you wanting it there. They will then demand payment to take the monkey off of you. (Tip # 3) women sit around the square and will do henna on your arms etc, it looks amazing and I really wanted it. But, beware of the black henna. It scars, and can burn and itch. (Tip # 4) There are also snake charmers and people with snakes around the square. I didn’t see or get close enough to witness anything, however, I believe they also put snakes on you and will demand payment to take the snake away from you.
We spent a lot of time shopping in the Artisan place which is just near the Mosque above and to the right. The two huge doors make it look as though it isn’t worth going inside. It most certainly is worth a visit. Or three, as we did. The souks are brilliant for shopping and I regret not buying a couple of their leather satchels. Do note, when you have seen a bag at one stall, it will also be at another 20. The souks are huge! We got lost a few times and met a few dodgy people so be careful.(Tip # 5) haggle, haggle, haggle in the souks. But also be aware that these people have to live off of the money they make and feed their families. So if they won’t budge from a price, it probably is their bottom line. They seem to come down quickly from their astronomical prices.
Whilst there we also spoke with a French couple who were staying in our riad. They informed us about a place called Oasiria Water Park. There is a shuttle that runs from McDonalds for free. I am unsure about the times it picks up and drops off. The water park is a lot of fun though. We spent the day there. I would mention however, bring a towel or blanket to lay on as they charge for use of the sun loungers on top of the ticket prices. Some of the slides didn’t look too safe also. But it was really good.
We did not venture to any night clubs in Marrakech, namely due to the expense. £60 to get in for one person! I only took £110 with me, and came home with change so could not afford that. If I went back to Marrakech, which I honestly would love to do I would venture to the desert, do a camel back ride, visit more of the beautiful gardens. Marjorelle gardens were beautiful. Very, very beautiful. I would also tell anyone to spend some time in a riad and a 5 star resort. It would have been nice if we would have spent time on the outskirts of the town. Also dependent upon the time of year you visit, a pool is a must! we did not have one because of the riad we stayed in, but, we walked into a 5 star luxury resort and used theres for a day without anyone telling us to leave. I was worried we would get put in prison. Maybe a slight overreaction on my part. But it was a great day.
I hope this was useful.