Marrakech is debatably the most popular tourist city in the Northwestern African country. To me, Marrakech felt exactly how you would imagine Morocco to be: Street vendors tucked into every alley, selling exotic merchandise, beautiful leather bags and jewelry, outdoor food vendors and street performers. But the first thing you’ll notice are the motorbikes. All I can say is, “LOOK OUT!”
We walked into the main plaza of Jemaa el-Fnaa, which is the busiest plaza in Africa (and it definitely felt like it with 50,000+ other people), and soaked in the culture on a Saturday night.
Everyone was hustling.
However, it wasn’t the same hustle as Fes, which was more aggressive. This was like a comedy show. Each vendor, or salesman may be a more appropriate title for them, had his own “pitch”. They just wanted to make us laugh. And we did! Comments like, “Hey Hotel California”, “Eat here and guarantee no diarrhea for 3 years”, “Same sh*t everywhere” and dozens more that I can’t remember because I was too busy laughing. All in good fun! Needless to say, I immediately felt more comfortable in Marrakech than in Fes.
If you’re a solo female, I would suggest skipping Fes all together, and join the fun in Marrakech, but as always, be smart and not too relaxed.
As night falls, circles begin to form in the plaza, each with it’s own theme or activity – drum circles, belly dancing, carnival game gambling, snake charmers, and then a fight club, with kids! I didn’t like that one. This was also the moment when I felt the most uncomfortable: A young man pressed behind me extremely close and wouldn’t move back. I grabbed my purse and clutched it to my chest. He continued to get closer. I switched places with Taylor, yet he continued to move towards me. It wasn’t until I stood in front of Michael that he walked away. Clearly trying to rob me. Thank goodness for my strong men!
Back to the plaza which was now very quiet mid-day, we enjoyed some fresh juice from one of the stalls, saw a king cobra strike and the snake charmer hypnotize, and then got hustled by a henna tattoo artist who just grabbed my hand, started drawing and then demanded I pay her. Oh the joys of travel!
The temperature in Morocco during July/August is between 40-50C. Translation: HOOOOT!!!! If you choose to visit Morocco during this time, which I suggest waiting until Spring or Fall, just make sure your riad has a pool. This will be a lifesaver. Then I recommend sightseeing in the morning and evening, but relaxing by the pool midday when the temperatures are at their max. Or maybe you’ll get lucky like us and have the entire place to yourselves! #winning
We booked a Sahara Tour through our riad and after three days in Marrakech were finally ready for what we came to Morocco to do… Next stop: SAHARA!
P.S. We’re SO happy to have the crew together again! We Ran with the Bulls in Spain with Taylor, Erich, and Nic three weeks before, met up with them in Portugal and now traveling throughout Morocco together. This is my favorite thing about traveling — Meeting amazing friends along the way! And Welcome to the crew, Dom!
2015 Bucket List Complete:
- Henna Tattoo? – Even though it wasn’t exactly the design I wanted 😛
- Snake Charmer with a King Cobra
- Day trip to Ouzoud Falls, a beautiful waterfall outside of Marrakech
- Neat, authentic souvenirs and artwork
- Can’t eat raw vegetables
- Can’t drink tap water
- The driving in Morocco is sketchy, but not as bad as South America. They drive in the middle of the road and pass on blind corners. People riding on side of cars.
- Stay at a riad with a pool. It’s a lifesaver.
- Be sure to bargain with the shop owners
- Be nice and say “Thank you”, treat them like people
- Cats everywhere!
- Mopeds everywhere! Watch out walking down alleys, they’ll run you over.
- Call to prayer, 5 times a day, sounds like sirens. Loud. They all sing a different song.
- Breakfast is the same everywhere. Bread, bread, bread.