Marrakesh -

Best things to do in Marrakesh.

In Africa, Destinations, Marrakesh, Morocco, Uncategorized by FreestyleLeave a Comment

Marrakesh is exceptional and walkable. Best advice I can give is to spend a day following tiny little streets and simply get lost in Medina in Marrakesh.

Get lost in the streets of Marrakesh.

Not every traveller is able to find those small streets of Marrakesh. I heard few people claiming there’s nothing interesting in Marrakesh, although they read something different. Basically it’s because not everything is obvious and you will need to walk a little to discover beautiful Medina. If you follow typical paths you will end up in the middle of main laud souks and market streets which are tiring and boring. Make an effort to explore the city, don’t be scared to follow narrow streets where all the beauty is hidden. The heavy wooden carved doors are inherent part of the pink building architecture. I didn’t understand where is this pink colour coming from until I visited Atlas Mountains. It’s the colour of the mountain rocks that is turned into an infrastructure building material.

Riad – Best places to stay in Marrakesh.

Riad – what is it and why worth staying there? Riad is a traditional Moroccan house. Architectural elements are breath taking. It’s typical Moroccan house with a common area in the middle and rooms around the courtyard. They will usually have a swimming pool and pleasant garden in the middle section. Nowadays most of the accommodation offered to tourists are riads. Staying little outside the main square also has lots of advantages. You are able to observe a real local life scenery, far from crowded touristic spots. You’ll find it different in every single element of the architecture, outfit and street scenery. I was staying only 20 minutes walking from the main square in rural streets of Marrakesh. Arab and Berber society are very conservative. Sometimes I even had a feeling they are making a huge effort tolerating me walking the street in short sleeve and camera, while the others are very pleasant and opened. Be respectful with outfit and behaviour. Be prepared for hundreds of questions: Where do you go? Where’re you from? What are you looking for? They will usually tell you the thing you are looking for is different direction – I would advice not listen to them. Also, if you accept their advice or favour you will be definitely forced to pay for it at the end! Avoid young guys who offer help, they are very eager to show you the way.

Safety in Morocco.

Probably since this huge tragedy in Atlas mountains, when the two traveling Scandinavian girls were killed while trekking Toubkal, safety remains under a big question mark for every backpacker. I was traveling through these mountains 2 days before this tragedy happened. From my perspective the country is safe. First thing I always do after landing in a new place – is asking locals about the safety. Ask everyone, your reception Guy, people in hotels. Generally tourists are safe in Morocco, as the government knows they bring money to the country. Walking at night in Marrakesh wasn’t a problem for me. Pick-pocketing barely happens, as the police is quite efficient in chasing the robbers and they usually got caught within few hours. Most likely you would be hit by a moped. Mopeds drive full speed even in tiny little streets – stay safe and always try walking on the right side of the road!

Hammam Spa treatment – why you have to try?

Why Hammam is so exceptional? HAMMAM – is a traditional Moroccan massage. You’ll be able to find lots of spa saloons in the city. Not all of them are good, so be careful when picking the right one and definitely stick to Riads. It’s a very pleasant experience and an amazing body treatment at the same time. At first a black Moroccan soup is applied to sit on you for 15 minutes while you are in the hot steam room. Afterwards they wash and scrub your body to remove epidermis layer. All this is followed by a great massage. It’s an old traditional cleansing ritual in Morocco nowadays but has it’s grassroots in ancient Greece. It’s also possible to buy typical black Moroccan soup on the market.

Street Moroccan food.

Real Moroccan taste can be easily found in the rooftop terrace restaurants or amazing street food. Street food aroma will lead you to try different types of local cuisine. Street food starts to live around 5-6 pm. I tried it every day and had no stomach problems if that’s your concern. You’ll see lots of different ways the food is cooked – grilled, baked in stone oven or cooked in huge clay vessel. Best fried food I tried is onion pancakes (10 Dirhams), fried eggplant and traditional vegetarian soup with lentils and bean are incredibly tasty (25 Dirhams). Moroccan bread is amazing too. One of the best things sold on every corner is fresh fruit juice, especially pomegranate (10 Dirhams). The spices is also something you need to bring with you back home. Try to avoid buying them in the most crowded touristic souks, any place far from this is fine. You’ll definitely find the difference in taste.

Try an authentic tajine in Marrakech.

Tajine – it’s a traditional Moroccan dish, slow-cooked stews braised at low temperatures with vegetables all in aromatic herbs and spices. There’s number of tajine options available in every restaurant menu: stew, chicken, vegetable. You’ll find traditional Moroccan restaurants located near Medina in Marrakesh. If you want to buy a dish for yourself do not pick the colourful one – they are fake and you won’t be able to cook in this. The only real tajine are clay ones, with no painted patterns. ATMs – are mainly located on biggest squares. There’s lots of them near Yves Saint Laurent museum. It’s possible to pay by card almost in every restaurant, shop, riad or hotel.

Jemaa el-Fna – night market.

Jemaa el-Fna – the main stage of Moroccan halqa- street theatre. Located in the main square of Marrakech. It’s worth walking this biggest souk once mainly to see their traditional music and local performances. Everything other than this is fake and horrifying – monkeys in chains, the nicked dancing cobra, kept only for street entertainment, exhausted mountain lizards for photos purposes. Very said knowing how much pain is happening behind the scene. If someone from the crowd notices you are making a photo they will immediately scream pointing at you and ask you for money. Suddenly half of the crowd will be starring at you. I got really confused at first I did something wrong. But don’t worry, everything is only about money. 😉

Traditional performances in Jemaa el-Fna

I was looking to find those famous traditional performances. I found quite interesting scenery and very different from what I read in all guidebooks. Only men gathered to watch this street spectacle. A second I lifted my camera they screamed for money. Having nothing to loose I said fine but I want to make few photos instead. A man you see on the picture is acting while the other one is chasing him and trying to hit him with a huge stick. The souks – Bargain on everything you want to buy. Usually start from a very low price, cut the zero off and divide into two to get a real prize of the item. I wanted to buy a mask and he said to me 250 dirhams, I finally bought it for 100 only because I was tired having a longer conversation with the seller, but good people told me it’s still way to expensive. French society is majority in Marrakesh. Their fashion world interfuse local attractions, small cafes, nice boutiques and handcraft shops, modern magazines are bringing stylish life. Be careful with that!! I found a very stylish shop with masks and sculptures exhibited behind the glass and extremely expensive prices – see a picture below – this gallery is fake! I couldn’t believe when walking one day through the city suburbs I saw a small street stand with all those masks being sold for extremely small money!!! I guess most the items sold in those French fancy shops are easily available for small money in rural streets of the city. Berber language, modern Arabic and French are the official languages. As the importance of English has increasing it has replaced French in schools nowadays.

Best places to see in Marrakesh?

  • Jemaa el-Fna Square (see description above),
  • Museum of photography – great place, enjoyed it very much. It might be a little crowded during weekends. I prefer to visit such places in the mornings. 70 Dirhams entrance fee. There’s a very nice restaurant on the top floor.
  • Yves Saint Laurent Museum – which attracts people from all over the world! For me attraction number one!! No chance you miss it!! The place is full of designer history, helps you understand why he was so fascinated by Moroccan colours. The street along the museum has transferred into a luxury valley with French cafes and fashion boutiques. Leather bag costs here 3500 DH. Not my thing, posh and fake. The queue for the museum is app. 30 minutes. But guess what!!? Pass the entrance and walk another 100 metres to find a second entrance with NOBODY in the queue. Yes, you discover this when they tell you where is the starting point. The entrance is 100 DH but if you combine Jardin and Berber Museum (all can be purchased separately) you’ll pay 180DH. All of them are worth visiting. Exceptional place in every way! Exceptional artist!
  • Everyone will be sending you to the leather market, saying there’s a festival and you’re lucky to be here that day. Bullshit!! The place is unpleasant, dirty and smelly. As I’m avoiding any kind of leather clothing it’s not a place I would go.
  • Walk the streets of Marrakesh they are full of temporary exhibitions – breathtaking riads coloured by art.
  • Women’s Museum – if you want to understand Women’s culture and traditions it’s the right place. It’s not a big museum but still interesting to see. Entrance is something like 25 DH.
  • There’s lots of museums in Marrakesh so it’s up to you how much time you want to spend inside rather then outside. Other quite interesting options are Orientalist Museum and Museum of Marrakesh.

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