Morocco, Part 1 – Marrakesh

I took an 11 day trip to Morocco in February 2012, which kicked off with three nights in Marrakesh. This was my first visit and I was advised by my partner who had visited before that two nights would probably be enough, and she was right. The main reason most people come to Marrakesh is for is the markets, or Souks, as they call them, and to be honest, whilst these are initially very impressive, I quickly found them to be tedious, and unfortunately for me, Marrakesh had little else to offer.

Being a white Westerner, you are an easy target for the local stall holders, who all assume you have lots of money to spend on their goods. They have many tried and tested opening gambits to strike up an initial conversation with you, and at first this banter is enjoyable and one of the reasons for visiting. However, it quickly becomes very tiring. They do not appreciate the concept of ‘just browsing’. Surely if you are in a market, you are there to shop right? What they don’t realise is that the whole Medina is a tourist attraction itself.

That said Marrakesh and the Medina in particular, is a visual delight. There are lots and lots of small streets, heaving with pedestrians both local and visiting; add to that locals riding about on small mopeds, and traders wheeling carts and it all becomes quite hectic. All of the goods on sale are very colourful, and coupled with all of the spices and food, the place is a feast for the senses.

We stayed right in the centre of the Medina in a riad called ‘Riad des Sables’, which was owned by a French lady called Katy. Her hospitality was very welcoming, and I did not tire of the offer of mint tea whenever we came back. As is typical, the riad was calm, cool, and quite, which made for a great haven from the bustling streets right outside.

In the evenings, we tended to eat from the food stalls out in the main square. The food was simple, and delicious and was enjoyed by more locals than tourists, who tended to go for the more expensive and obvious restaurants.

Marrakesh is clearly one of the ‘must see’ destinations of the world, but for me, just one night would be enough. I would recommend it as a starting point to a greater adventure through the rest of Morocco, just make sure you have a big enough bag for all your purchases.

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