March 27, 2009

Marrakech The Red City

Marrakech is often referred to as the red city or the spice city and the combinations of the red and pinks in  the buildings and the exotic spices you see in the souks does not leave you in any doubt why it has been referred to as both.

It truly is like no other city on earth and is without doubt the most exotic city with in one to three hours flight time from most European cities. The airport is very close to the city and your transfer to center is around ten to fifteen minutes.

The city is made up of the old and the new. The new part has all the trappings of any European city and the shops and hotels and cafe culture that you would see in Europe. The French influence is obvious and the new part of the city is home to many new villas and apartments that are occupied by mainly Moroccans but also a fairly large number of various nationalities who live and work in Marrakech.

The Medina is the old part of the city will transport you into an environment like no other. The Raids hidden away in the back streets and alleyways are sanctuaries of cam and sophistication that let your experience the way Berber people have been living for years. They range from low cost hostel types that are still very, very high quality to stunning guest houses to luxury palaces that dreams are made of.

The Souks and shopping

No trip to Marrakech is complete without getting lost in the souks. For those with a passion for shopping this is a dream destination. Whatever your shopping desires it is somewhere in the souks. The challenge and the adventure is the finding of it and when you do, you then have to find your way back to where you want to be! For those that think they are not into shopping your challenge is to leave Marrakech without buying from the souks.

Bargaining

Remember bargaining in Morocco is a way of life and it is expected. It is a skill that you will get better at but probably you will never get to the level of a Marrakech souk stall owner.It is impossible to give accurate advice on how much you should pay as the prices change on a daily basis depending on a huge amount of variations including supply and demand, the amount of tourists in the city, time of day or season. You should take your time and do not be rushed, the vendors enjoy your company. Pay what you feel is value and never be afraid to say no.

DJemaa El Plaza

The beating heart of Marrakech is without doubt Jamaa El Plaza. Impossible to describe fully in words this is and environment that must be experienced and felt. Evenings are the best time to visit to fully experience the raw living life of Marrakech.

The food of Marrakech

Like everything else in Morocco eating well is a bit of an adventure. Of course like any other city Marrakech has its fair share of excellent local and international restaurants. However, why not do what the locals do and eat at the stalls in De Jemaa El Fna. These stalls have been there for long before any tourists arrived in this country and with age comes experience. Their is a stall for any desire and you can pay anything from DH10 for a simple snack to DH100 for a 3 course meal.

Things To See

Djemaa El Fa and the souks and Raids are all something you will experience but you should also try and make time to see.

Koutoubia Mosquelocated right next to Djemaa El Fa and a excellent landmark for the city.

Saadian Tombswhich were not discovered until the beginning of the 20th century.

Majorelle GardensA excellent respite from the hustle and bustle. They do have a 30 dh entrance fee.

Dar Si Said Museumjust five minutes walk from Djemaa El Fa

Ben Youssef Madrassawhich is on the largest Madrassa’s in North Africa

El Bahia Palace which is well worth a visit D10 entrance fee

El Badi Palace which is a ruin with many cats living in the tunnels DH10 entrance fee

Marrakech is and adventure that we feel should be experienced so of course do a bit of research but part of the adventure is surely to experience the culture and way of life here so do not do to much reading!

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