Follow my steps: Marrakesh

Wanna hear a joke?

Hailstorm in Marrakesh, North of Africa in May – I never said it`s a good joke, but is the cruel truth. Just one of the things you never expect when you pack for warm weather.

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!Trigger warning!

Due to the climate change, the rainy season has been late. Therefore, at the beginning of May we caught all the rain an unlucky person would get. 3 days later I was looking like a dead man walking and couldn`t hear properly due to the fever. Alright for the rain, but what were the chances to get a hailstorm in North of Africa, not once but twice in a week (Marrakesh and Meknes)? Slim to none.

Top 3 things I have enjoyed visiting in Marrakesh

          1. El Badi Palace (10 dirham fee) – we visited while it was under renovations, but it was easy to see its former glory. The indoor yard isn`t a scenic view, what`s inside/on its walls is Instagram worthy.

 

               2. Cyber Parc Moulay Abdessalam (free) most touristic parks are small and ask for a fee, this park is for locals trying to find a quiet spot in busy Marrakesh. It is a big park, very clean and it will easily take few hours to walk by and enjoy the weather.

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         3. Medina (free) – an UNESCO site and the life of the town during the night. With almost 1000 years of history, this medina still is an economic and cultural center. You can find everything you had no idea you need here!

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#BonusStory

Although we rented an apartment for 2 nights, due to the heavy rain and bad condition of the mountain roads, we couldn`t continue our trip to see the Ksar of Ait-Ben-Haddou in Ouarzazate (without risking our lives) on time.

During our “last” night in Marrakesh we met this cool guy I had been talking on Couchsurfing. Spent a great night together with his friends eating, playing guitar, talking about politics, getting high and petting his white Husky, Link.

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When he heard about our misfortune and after making fun of our luck so far, he invited us to spend the night over at his place. Spending another night playing with a dog? YES!

To better understand how nice we were/are, that he extended his invitation, I`ll put here his review from couchsurfing:

First If you gonna host Daniela, don’t let her talk politics, she will start a civil war in your place and bring popcorn to watch the debate hhhhh (she is a journalist i can’t blame her).

To be honest she is a really cool person with a well strong personality, and a very interesting view about life (and she is not the only one :D), you can get lost hearing her talking about her dreams and achievements.
Not forget to mention her very hilarious two best friends “the decision makers” with and advanced sense of humor (dark humor to be specific hhh), and a funny way of dodging questions about opinions and decisions hhhh it was really really nice knowing them.

They made my day, and i’m sure they will make yours.

On the night we crashed his couch, he also showed us Marrakesh through his eyes. Not the ultra-conservative “no drink, no smoke, no party” Muslim stereotype I had in mind. During the day 80% of women on the street were wearing a hijab and dressed conservatively. At 12 o`clock, schools are off until 2pm for lunch break – all school aged girls we had seen in suburbs were wearing a hijab (why wearing one at 9 years old?). So my mind was set about this.

The main square, Jemaa El Fna is quiet in the afternoon, but once the sun gets down, it`s on!

Scams everywhere – checked.

Monkeys – checked.

Exotic snakes – checked.

Eating snails – checked (yes, it had a face).

Before our tour to start, our unexpected host had promised to my inner nerd he would take me to a place with lots of books. So we started our tour at Café du Livre right on time for happy hour (beer and popcorn) and live music. The atmosphere was very laid back with people casually talking no different from a pub in downtown London – solo women talking with their friends and enjoying a pint. Not a single one was wearing a hijab (see below).

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#BonusTip

There are plenty of orange trees of the streets of Marrakesh, but be warned: not real oranges just decorative, therefore it taste awful!

Petit-Taxis will take at least 3 times more than what the ride is worth and will never have a meter. Grand-Taxis are a hassles until you know their route. Whenever possible take the bus and track it on Google Maps – it`s cheaper to get a Moroccan sim for 1 week worth of internet than pay a single ride on a petit-taxi driver`s requested price to… anywhere.

 

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 Three people backpacking through Morocco for two weeks visiting 13 locations. What could go wrong?

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15 thoughts on “Follow my steps: Marrakesh

  1. Such a bummer that it was raining! But what an interesting experience to couch surf and make new friends. I love the review he wrote on you! It’s always fun to read how other’s view you. And that husky! I love huskys 🙂

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  2. Hey Daniela! Great post – sorry to hear that you got sick. I feel you – I was sick the past three days and totally missed out on exploring the island we were staying on. It sucks but it happens. So great that you had a really positive CS experience. Your host did a great job and you obviously left your impression too ha ha. I always love getting the low down from the locals :).

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    1. I`d like to put your worries at rest, but I cannot do much about it. Catcalling is still a big problem in Morocco. While I did not have problems (considering that I was travelling with two tall boys and usually i was walking between them) I felt men staring at me (particularly my big ass) everytime I was walking on the street. My friends actually used to joke about that and I would laugh it off, but if I would have been alone it wouldn`t be so amusing.

      I can say that I`ve noticed this being a big problem while travelling in south or east coast, also in Rabat. In North (Fes, Tetouan, Tangier or Chefchaouen) I haven`t felt stalked so much. I could walk on the street and felt like nobody cared if I was there or not – felt incredible – but that might be the case because of the purity of hash in those cities.

      Solo woman or not, we had men randomly coming to us trying to offer their guidance through their city (watch out for those! if you`re lost, go and ask inside a building – bank, museum, restaurant, etc.), also when we were at bus/train stations (especially in Marrakesh) we had people harassing us trying to make us buy their ticket constantly trying to get our attention and asking about our destination.

      Do not think the way you dress matter too much. They will see you`re foreign and the dollar sign will appear in their eyes. I was wearing dark and long clothes and also a veil on my shoulders almost the entire trip. I`ve seen tourists wearing shorts and tank tops in Marrakesh and Rabat. They will still catcall you, unfortunately. If you`re staying in Marrakesh, I can recommend you my host. He is very attentive and will look out for you. Let me know and have a safe trip!

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      1. Thanks that is a realistic picture! I did travel Jordan and Sudan with no problems, but Morocco has really notorious reputation regarding the hassle:) I am not sure when exactly i will be doing it, but would be happy if you pass me your contact! Thanks for your time, and hope its not too much offtopic from the post:)

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  3. I once ate these tiny fruits on a tree. I thought they were apples but they were so sour and I had no idea what I ended up eating haha. Thanks for the tip about the oranges 😛 I’ll remember that if I ever visit in the future.

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  4. I absolutely adore Morocco! I went on a ten day road trip there back in 2011 and honestly had my Islamic country stereotypes erased when I sunk my teeth into the nightlife. First of all, the Medina is always popping and I wish other countries had that same kind of outdoor venue. That was probably the best “square” I’ve ever visited in my life! Did you get to visit the Botanical Gardens there? I think its called the Jardin Majorelle. I think that is the most beautiful garden I’ve ever visited in m ylife!

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  5. I thought your first photo was really interesting, couldn’t figure out if it was rain — but then you said hail, oh! Sounds like your misfortune with the weather turned into a really interesting Couchsurfing experience and story. I’m also pinning this because I have a feeling Morocco will be on my list soon and I want to visit the El Badi Palace.

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