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marakesh - what's to do?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by GeX, 5 Jun 2011.

  1. GeX


    Joined: 17 Dec 2002

    Posts: 6,489

    Location: Manchester

    Hi all.

    Off to Marakesh next with my other half, we're there for a week. Anyone on here been before, anything that we should go see / do whilst we're there - anything to avoid/
  2. Maccy


    Joined: 23 Nov 2004

    Posts: 37,970

    Location: Herts

    My sister went last year and got very ill. My parents went a couple of years ago and someone tried to buy my mum for camels. The culture sounds great!
  3. GeX


    Joined: 17 Dec 2002

    Posts: 6,489

    Location: Manchester

  4. neil3k


    Joined: 13 Aug 2004

    Posts: 6,773

    Location: Bedford

    shisha dens
  5. marc_howarth


    Joined: 29 Jul 2005

    Posts: 445

    Location: Matlock

    I can reccomend going to the Jemma at night, the atmostphere is amazing and it's basically just a massive communal bbq. Other than that, don't go with any "tour guide" to the souks, you will find they're generally on commission from the shops that they take you to.
  6. manveruppd

    Wise Guy

    Joined: 24 Feb 2004

    Posts: 1,086

    Location: Leeds/Cyprus

    Try to look local so you don't get accosted by kids and street vendors. As in grow a moustache, dye all your hair black, take up smoking, don't carry cameras or other touristy trappings! :p
  7. craptakular


    Joined: 7 Jan 2007

    Posts: 10,615

    Location: Sussex, UK

    Buy a flak jacket before you go!
  8. Cosimo

    Man of Honour

    Joined: 9 Jan 2007

    Posts: 163,805

    Location: Londinium

    Get accosted by street vendors/shopkeepers and smoke pot.
  9. .Lethal


    Joined: 8 Jun 2005

    Posts: 7,164

    Location: United Kingdom

    Don't people look up themselves before booking a holiday?
  10. Cosimo

    Man of Honour

    Joined: 9 Jan 2007

    Posts: 163,805

    Location: Londinium

    Of course they do but you never know what snippets of information you might get from asking in here.
  11. Bunka


    Joined: 18 Jan 2005

    Posts: 5,550

    Location: West London

    Avoid the odd bombing here and there!
  12. molinari


    Joined: 6 Jan 2003

    Posts: 5,188

    I was there for 3 days last year. It's a very interesting place with lots to see, and it was very hot and humid. The most interesting place is the Medina (the old city, inside the walls). The souks are great to look around and you can get some bargains if you find the right shop. Fortunately, the owner of the Riad we stayed in pointed us in the direction of some good fixed price shops as I was interested in haggling :). There are also the palaces, mosques, museums and spas to visit, and the Majorelle Garden in the new city is lovely although a bit out of the way. Plenty to keep you occupied for 3 or 4 days. A good guide book (with a decent map of the souks so you don't get lost) is very helpful.

    To avoid being harassed by locals, just ignore them. It may sound rude but if you show interest, some of them won't stop until they have money from you (for goods or just to get rid of them). There is a good atmosphere in the main square in the evening when the market is up and running. Again, if you don't want to be harassed by the people with snakes and monkeys, don't make eye contact and don't take any obvious photos of them.

    Important: always agree a price before you get in a cab, and stick to it. If you're a nervous passenger, it may be better to walk! This is also one place were you need to haggle. 30 dirham will you from one side of the city to the other.
  13. bam0


    Joined: 28 Oct 2002

    Posts: 5,014

    I went for 4 days last year and IMO it was plenty of time to see Marrakech. The square and the alleys and shops behind it are great to walk around and for the price you'll pay the food served by the stalls in the evenings is fantastic, my wife and I ate comfortably for about 80-100 dirhams (in total, not each) and there were about 13 dirhams to the pound at the time.

    The old palace is worth a wander round, and you can get a combo ticket that gets you access to an old Madrasah, an art gallery/museum (that has some great photos of Marrakech about 80-100 years ago), and some other old ruin. Again it's not very expensive and is interesting to see.

    We got a random guided tour of the Jewish quarter when we went to see the old Palace and it was closed, that was actually really interesting because everything is hidden away behind what looks like people's front doors and you'd never know it was there if you didn't have a guide.

    I also just remembered about the Majorelle Gardens, I would definitely suggest a visit there.

    Overall though, apart from soaking up the atmosphere and seeing a few things there's not much to actually do in the city itself. Be prepared to find that things you might see advertised aren't actually on, such as the tour bus (had been stopped for a few months apparently, as had the fireworks at the Menara Gardens, who knows they may have started up again now).

    Obviously haggle at the shops, just don't be rude :) Also you'll have to haggle for taxis, be prepared for the taxi drivers at the airport to quote you some stupid prices, 200 dirhams plus to take you into Marrakech, there is apparently a bus, if you talk about getting that and start to walk off you'll get the price down but you'll still pay over the odds, I think we got it down to 80 dirhams from the airport into the city, but it was only 30 going back. Again with normal taxis if you're going somewhere in the city you shouldn't be paying too much and if you can't get the trip for a price you're comfortable with just walk away as there are loads of taxis available.
  14. ubershell


    Joined: 22 Mar 2011

    Posts: 351

    Location: Cheshire

    I'm going there too in 3 weeks time :D

    I'm planning on horse riding in the Atlas mountains and visiting the souks but I am only there for a few days. A week should give you plenty of time to fit lots in, though its meant to be 35 degree's at the moment so taking it easy in the heat is probably a good idea!!
  15. SuperBOB


    Joined: 11 Jan 2004

    Posts: 513

    Location: Sydney, Oz


    Just got back from Marrakesh. The wife got a lot of crap from the locals, teenagers grabbing their penis in public and gesticulating at her, so prepare yourself for that ;)

    The highlights for me were:
    going to Essaouira
    Moroccon cookery class
    landing at Glasgow

    Its also a fairly dry country, the booze is sparse and not as cheap as everything else is.

    All the tourist top 10 lists for the place are fairly accurate (the square, the souqs) - but for me were only worth a brief look and a quick photo then I was planning my next trip out of Marrakesh.

    I think if I go back to an Islamic country ill do less independent travel and spend more time in a westernised hotel.
  16. GeX


    Joined: 17 Dec 2002

    Posts: 6,489

    Location: Manchester

    Thanks for the replies.

    With regards to going out to places like the Atlas mountains - is that something that's best arranged out there, or done here and prebooked?

    SuperBOB - cookery class? You watched Vacation Vacation Vacation too then? lol

    Regard the lewd behavior of the locals - I was under the impression that if my OH keeps covered up, respecting local traditions then it won't be an issue. She is blonde though, so clearly not local!!

    What about money over there, normally abroad I take a small amount of local currency and then just my credit card for anything - but guessing that's not going to work as well. Presume there are cash points around that'll spit out the local currency. I remember in Turkey they'd happily accept local, USD or GBP - what's prefered in Marakesh?
    Last edited: 6 Jun 2011
  17. ThomasTheTankEngine

    Wise Guy

    Joined: 24 Jan 2010

    Posts: 2,144

    The atlas mountains are great. I went there on a geology field trip when I was in college.

    Going round the souks will be entertainment enough for a few days. So much interesting and weird stuff. Shops full of animal products you wouldn't have a hope getting through customs, and the open-air dentists provide quite a spectacle. Might want to go in the evening though, as lots of sections are undercover and basically turn into ovens during the day.

    When I went, we had 3 blonde girls with us (one of whom is now a model). I'm pretty sure most of the guys had never seen a blonde girl in their life. It was quite an experience..... the locals were annoying, but basically harmless. This wasn't in one of the major cities though, so it probably won't be quite as intense in an area used to tourists.
    Last edited: 6 Jun 2011
  18. bam0


    Joined: 28 Oct 2002

    Posts: 5,014

    I found you got a better exchange rate at the airport once I landed than I did in the UK, either use the exchange desks in the airport or just use the ATMs they have there.
  19. Xandos


    Joined: 19 Aug 2006

    Posts: 594

    I was there a couple of months ago (when the bomb in Argana Cafe went off, actually)...

    It's fun trying to sell the lady, though they always say it'll take a few days to get the camels, which simply isn't good enough.

    Don't feel bad about ignoring people, though do it with a good demeanour, and a smile. The Jemma el Fna or whatever it's called is obviously a place to hang out in the evening, good atmosphere... Make sure you never let anyone do anything without agreeing a price or assuring them you won't pay first! They are hardened and trained scammers the lot of them :p...

    Overall I wasn't largely impressed, and I wouldn't know how to spend a week there... We took a trip to the Sahara desert, went sandboarding, camel riding, 4x4'ing etc. Which was by far the highlight of all Morocco for us, and allowed us to see the Atlas mountains on the way.

    If you want Hash ask a minibus driver or taxi driver when you're going through the mountains, instead of getting some overpriced rubbish from the touts and hustlers that line the streets.

    Haggling - haggle HARD! having just been to India, and finding that frustrating, I can say that Morocco is a LOT WORSE. The real value of what they're trying to sell is probably under 10 times what their asking price is. Stick to your guns, don't allow them to creep you up, and walking away and laughing is your best weapon. Try not to get antagonistic with their bull, and just laugh it off even though they're basically attempting to wallet-rape you.

    Don't expect to find any decent food! Expect to be ill (I survived india, both me and the lady were independently compromised). Eating on the Jemma is paying for the experience, better cheaper food outside the center.

    They have a nasty "fixed rate" racquet going on with the taxis from the airport, and will try not to go under 100 dirams. Laugh, tell them it's 6km, and offer them 50. Refuse to go higher, walk away, etc.

    Have fun! Though to be honest it's not a country that I shall be revisiting...

    Buy some crap in the Souks, About the best thing Morocco has going for it is home-crap.
  20. CircleFaust


    Joined: 1 Dec 2003

    Posts: 3,444

    i'm going at the end of this month

    is it worth trying to get the bus from the airport to my hotel (morroccon house hotel)
    thinks its only about 7km away.

    or should i just go for the taxi

    also, i was just going to change about £20/£30 here and take it over just to get me by. i'm on an organised trip so won't need lots of spending money. was going to take some cash just and change when i needed it. i have a credit card i might take just in case
    Last edited: 6 Sep 2011