Likes & Dislikes

Opinions

Marrakesh - Medina - s.k. photo

"Cheeky, pushy vendors, and self-appointed tour guides. Tourism has completely ruined the character of the locals, making them greedy chancers. I'm not a big animal rights person, but the animals used for stunts for tourists are kept in obviously atrocious conditions. On the other hand, the colors, the atmosphere, the scents, the palace courtyards, and the surprisingly large number of quality restaurants are all stunning."
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"It is no coincidence that this city is known as the Pearl of the South: after a while, it begins to enchant you with its atmosphere and its many masterpieces of Moorish architecture – the mosques, minarets, palaces, harems, cavalcades of religious schools, reservoirs, fountains, secret gardens, and tranquil olive groves, as well as the hustle and bustle of the old town its many streets, markets, workshops, cafes, and restaurants.
And not all Muslim women wear traditional attire, as Morocco is the most 'Western' Eastern country." (2017)
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"It was a pleasant surprise for us that the locals were very kind. Of course, there are some more insistent vendors, but they should be ignored. Many people helped us find our way without asking for payment, and we didn't encounter any pickpockets, either.
We didn't like the main square, and we didn't photograph the monkeys, cobras, or anything else – not only because I would have had to pay for the privilege, but mostly because I think it's animal cruelty and I don't support it."
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"Marrakesh is the real East, and I mean the EAST: it's noisy, smelly, dirty, colorful, interesting, delightful, cheerful, crazy, aggressive, and friendly, all at the same time. Everyone is selling something, the market is awash with Chinese goods, and the real Moroccans have been pushed to the edges of the market. We visited three museums, a former madrasa (a Quran school), a museum of old objects, and a water extraction pool."
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"Marrakesh was my favorite city in Morocco. If you roam the hidden corners of the city in a few days, you will understand more of life than in years spent elsewhere."
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"Marrakech is a degree or two more European than Fez. There are fewer guys who only want to show us the way, advise, help, and inform us. It's a little cleaner and tidier, and the downtown is not so jungle-like. But here, too, you can easily step in puddles whose contents you don't want to know anything about. You can come to an alley with a slum at the other end, dirty-walled houses, rubbish in the corner, and a lingering stench." (2018)

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“With a full stomach and, in the end, a sweet taste in our mouths, we set off to explore the city by day as well. Right away, we got lost in the narrow, crooked alleys. Since not only the locals but practically everyone still seems to sleep soundly at around 9-10 in the morning, we found that except for some pretty sick-looking cats and a few other early-rising tourists, we almost had the streets to ourselves.
Understandably, tourists rise earlier: we too were awakened by the sweet singing of the muezzin but found it hard to go back to sleep asleep after such an unfamiliar, brassy sound in the morning. Marrakech, in any case, looks good in any light, and without people, the city is really magnificent. A million shades of salmon or coral, though the buildings have a lot of very plasticky ornamentation.
The zigzagging street plan takes you back to a different age, from which only the occasional, anachronistic scooter, traveling at an insane speed, brings you back to reality.” (2019)

Practicals

Transport

“At heart, I’m a motorcyclist. Either I plow the asphalt on my own bike, or else I rent one when I travel. I had a contact here too and wanted to pick up a bike, but when we arrived in Marrakesh and left the train station, a car crashed into a moped with such force that I think the unfortunate passenger on the back of the moped died. He twitched for a moment on the asphalt, then went still. The girls say he sat up later… All I can say is I didn’t see it. It was a clear sign that maybe I should give biking a miss here.

The traffic on the roads is crazy! I’m not the sort to complain about everything, and I tried to work something out here too, but I won’t force it if it doesn’t work, and they drive like idiots!

Taxi drivers set their own fares, which was usually not too much of a problem. However, they can be really unpleasant. They would take any really clueless tourist to the cleaners! Even at the best of times, foreigners pay triple rates. Only in the capital, Rabat, did we meet a taxi driver who had a meter in his cab. He was working for pennies.

Luckily, in Marrakesh, we ran into a taxi driver, Yusuf, who drove us around the city for a flat rate of 400 dirhams, took us to all the sights, and waited for us everywhere, even for hours on end. AND there was no “baksheesh” here ... he wasn’t interested in that – at most he took a certain percentage of us from the restaurant because it was a relatively expensive place, but the experience was fantastic!

We asked him to take us to the right place where traditional Moroccan food is served, comfortable, and don’t mind that it’s Ramadan. He communicated well in English, which is again a rarity. Not unknown, but rare. He spoke well in English, which is also a rarity. Not strange, but rare.”
(Bv, 2017)





Marrakesh - Jemaa el-Fna - horse-drawn carriage - s.k. photo

Marrakesh - city bus and medina bikes - s.k. photo

Marrakesh - traffic jam in an alley - s.i. photo

Marrakesh - Medina - s.k. photo

Accomodation

“Most tourists arriving in Marrakesh take a taxi to somewhere near their accommodation, but hostels and riads (accommodation in old houses in the old town) on narrow streets are usually not fully accessible by car. You, the unfortunate tourist, say goodbye to the taxi driver, then start looking for the address, which according to Google maps is here around the next corner, but within a few minutes you get lost in the maze of the old town, i.e. the medina. This is when a helpful local enters the picture and offers to accompany you to your accommodation. This he does, but often by making a significant detour, and then after the walk he announces that this little help costs 10-20 euros – which, of course you, the astonished tourist, are puzzled by, and perhaps angry too, but in the end you give some money anyway. Still, it’s very annoying, meaning you’ve started your stay with a bad first impression. So, in my personal experience, your peace of mind is worth the price of an airport transfer.” (2018)

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“It was hard to choose accommodation from Marrakesh’s many, many riads, since each seems more beautiful than the last. The word riad literally means garden, but in practice it means a traditional Moroccan house with an enclosed courtyard in the middle, where there are plants, a fountain, and possibly a pool. Almost every riad has a rooftop terrace where breakfast is served and where you can relax.” (2018)

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“For practical purposes, a riad is a type of accommodation comprising a house built around a courtyard, opening from there onto the various private rooms. Most accommodation in Moroccan cities is comprised of riads, and they are shown in very eye-catching photos on the hotel booking pages. In reality, however, everything is one or two degrees more modest: the ornaments are mostly carvings made of plaster, but they still look quite nice. On the other hand, the fact is that sound insulation in these old houses is practically non-existent, and thermal insulation also leaves something to be desired, given the fluctuations in the local temperature. It is a special local curiosity that in most places the bathroom is only separated from the bedroom by a mesh curtain.” (2019)

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I booked a bed in a female 8-person room in a riad (a traditional house type with an open garden in the middle) which was a very good choice. It had its own roof terrace, bar, restaurant, cozy interior, swimming pool, palm trees, en-suite bathroom, and practical beds. The only negative was the location – right in the middle of the bazaar.” (2020)



Food

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Morocco - Marrakesh - ornate restaurant - Krista photo

Marrakesh - Medina- eatery - s.k. photo

Marrakesh - Medina - Cafe Caravan - s.k. photo

Marrakesh - rooftop cafes - s.k. photos

Marrakesh - Jemaa el-Fna - street food vendor rousingly invite tourists to eat mixed skewers - n.e. photo

Shopping

"In the souk (market) behind the square, we only encountered the "usual" Arab hospitality. There is no excessive intrusion, and while, of course, they want to sell everything, they do it in a much more cultured way. The Marrakesh souk is enormous, and you can find practically everything there. Spice shops, leather makers, carpet makers, lamp makers... All fit nicely next to each other.
In the narrow alleys of the market, it is worth lingering for a long time, getting lost a bit and surrendering yourself to the atmosphere of a real Arab market, interwoven with pleasant spice scents. Be careful, for though impossible to drive into the alleys by car, possible with a moped. Watch out, and get out of the way of anyone on aske, like the locals do." (2018)
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"It was as if we had been dropped into the tales of One Thousand and One Nights: a sea of people selling lamps, rugs, leather bags, jewelry, and colorful, fragrant spices. The vendors are really pushy, and if you look at something a little more closely, they'll definitely jump in and be very helpful right away, but it's not impossible to get rid of them. We bought a leather bracelet and haggled the price down by a third. We probably should have bargained for a lot more – the smile which followed the deal was too broad!" (2018)
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"The bazaar starts on one side of the square. A mazy network of small shops where everything is available, from commercial products to eye-catching artisanal wares. Beautiful cashmere scarves in attractive patterns, shiny leather shoes in fantastic colors, artisanal lamps, tea sets, richly inlaid jewelry, beautifully crafted bags, colorful and fragrant spices, teas, fine-textured soaps, ballgowns, etc.
The vendors here no longer speak to us so intrusively; rather, they watch the crowds swarming up and down with calm monotony, have tea, or play board games with the merchant at the next stall. Until you stop to look at their stalls… because then they appear at your elbow and eagerly recommend your wares, you can take a quick, close look and decide if you're really interested."
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"When the dealer told me how much that particular scarf cost, I told him that "in my country" this can be bought for so much and so much (and I said a ridiculously low price, about a third of the real sum). Slowly we edged towards an understanding, plus I agreed to buy more than one, and in the end, we finally agreed somewhere around half the price originally stated. I'm sure the dealer made a good deal, but I was also happy with the scarves, especially when I look at how much I would have paid for the same at home."

Morocco - Marrakesh - bazaar - Krista photo

Marrakesh - shop - s.k. photo

Marrakesh - denture options - s.k. photo

Marrakesh - non-touristy shops in the city - s.k. photo

Marrakesh - Mellah (former Jewish quarter) - n.e. photo

Fun

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Marrakesh - professional exchange of snake charmers - s.k. photo

Public safety

"There were two of us, both women. In the alleys of the old town, people spoke to us almost every thirty seconds, saying this and that in their own language. But they never insulted or touched us. We got used to the stares pretty quickly (though we were dressed very modestly), and we felt safe at all times." (K.a., 2017)
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"The monkey shows: a monkey sits on the man's shoulder and is so cute that you can't help but look, but if you do, the handler will appear next to you and catch you… One of the guys caught my sister's arm in just this way, and she had to shake him off with a decisive gesture.  We quickened our pace.

We later saw what the trick was with the monkey: the monkey is chained by the neck, and they put the chain around the tourist's wrist, so and you they can get their cute monkey photos… of course for money.

I read in a blog post about how things like this happen: a blogger in the main square of Marrakesh ran into a snake charmer, and the man put the snake on his partner's shoulder ("photo, photo"). Later he said how much this photography costs, and it turned into a loud argument (then of course they bargained a lower price). If I understand correctly, there is a danger that the monkey/snake will not be taken off you until you pay." (2018)
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As I walked through the square with my sister – two blue-eyed, white-skinned European women (in long pants and high-necked t-shirts) – we soon received not only shopping recommendations but also marriage offers (especially my sister, who was soon being greeted at food stands with "Hello, Selena Gomez"). Here, the only way for us to survive – and reach the other end of the square – was to completely break the normal rules of courtesy. Don't speak, don't reply. Don't even look, just ignore them and look straight ahead. Because if you make eye contact, they will come after you to get you to buy something, and it will be hard to shake them off."

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"In Marrakech, for example, if we didn't shop at a vendor at the bazaar, he would typically shout something rude or obscene. There was a man who decided to join my girlfriend and me. We didn't ask for his help; he just figured he'd take us to his spice shop, but after his presence got too much of a drag for us and we tried to shake him off, he started aggressively asking for money for showing us around town. When we didn't want to and walked away, he jumped on a motorcycle and followed us.
A henna woman just caught my girlfriend's arm with some needle in the main square. We yelled at her that we didn't want anything and to leave us alone.
In Morocco, I felt a little bit that people were too pushy, too aggressive, at least in Marrakech." (2016)

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Health

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Marrakesh - These small balls with its scent supposed to deter the mosquitos - s.k. photo

Marrakesh - mobile pharmacy - emergency medicines - s.k. photo

Others

1. “You may want to buy a Maroc Telecom SIM card. It costs pennies, and for 30 dirhams, you get 5GB of data so that you can find your way around more easily. Here too, Google is your best friend.
Don’t be surprised by the fact that you can’t really get a SIM card at the official Maroc Telecom store. Instead, you’ll find a lot of orange guys in vests labeled Maroc Telecom near the main square. I was mistrustful of them at first, but at the official store, or indeed any stall with Maroc Telecom signs, they’ll direct you to the guys in vests.” (R. T., 2018)

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2. “Based on both online reports and personal experience, we can say that it is worth changing money at Chez Ali or Hotel Ali, located on one of the streets running into the already well-known main square. This was where we saw the best exchange rates anywhere, although it’s also important to add that in most places there would probably be no problem paying with euros either. Still, better safe than sorry.

One more quick tip: you should be equipped with as many 20 dirhams – the smallest denomination – as possible. This is what we used the most. And if we get coins, we’re even happier, because they can be used in many arguments over price.” (2019)

Marrakesh - Bab Agnaou, one of the most famous gates of Marrakesh - s.k. photo

Marrakesh - s.k. photo

Background

Destination in brief

Marrakech is in the southwestern part of Morocco. It lies at the foot of the High Atlas Mountains.
Marrakesh is the most upscale tourist attraction in Morocco.  Its Old Town, the Agdal and Menara Gardens are part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Marrakesh is one of the so-called royal cities, besides Fez, Rabat, and Meknes.

Population (in 2020): 1 million

Average net monthly salary (in 2020): 430 USD

The old town is locally called Medina. Marrakesh has a new, modern city part,  which is not as chaotic as the old town, but neither so exotic.

Marrakesh is the favorite city of the Moroccan king.

It is also called the "Red City" because of its red city walls.

Nowadays

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Marrakesh - Medina - s.k. photo

Marrakesh - street scene - s.k. photo

Marrakesh - city life beyond the medina - s.k. photo

Marrakesh - I'm tired of work now - s.k. photo

Marrakesh - Medina - s.k. photo

People

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Marrakesh - portrait - s.k. photo

Attractions

Medina

Thanks to Medina, that Marrakech became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Of course, it is a must-see attraction of the city.  How to describe?: a cavalcade of smells, scents, noises, mountains of colorful spices. We warn you that you'll find a lot of dirt, rubbish, it stinks here and there, but these are part of the adventure. If you insist on seeing a sterile environment only, don't visit Africa.

Marrakesh - Medina - s.m. photo

Marrakesh - Medina - s.m. photo

Marrakesh - Medina - Susanne photo

Marrakesh - Medina - s.k. photo

Marrakesh - Medina - like a movie scene - k-t. g. photo

Mosques

Marrakesh - Mezquita Koutoubia (The Kutubiyya Mosque or Koutoubia Mosque) - s.m. photo

Jemaa el-Fna


Marrakesh - Jemaa el-Fna - s.k. photo

Marrakesh - Jemaa el-Fna - s.k. photo

Marrakesh - El Fna - l.y. photo

Saadi Tombs

Marrakesh - Saadi Tombs - s.m. photo

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