The final post from Morocco! After the Sahara Desert trek, we settled into our 2nd AirBnB riad (We stayed in 3 different ones during our trip). And I think this has to be my favourite. Also, the food from our in-house chef was nothing short of amazing. Food cooked in a tagine is just something else. Dinner on this rooftop was definitely a treat.The next day, we made our way to the Jardin Majorelle. It is a beautiful botanical garden previously owned by the late Mr. Yves Saint Laurent himself. An incredible, colourful and vibrant space to explore. We definitely took way too many photos in here haha! Tip: Go early as there can be quite a line up! It opens daily at 8 A.M. And it also does get quite hot in the afternoons, so mornings would be the perfect time to check it out.
- If you're uncomfortable navigating the streets of Marrakech by yourself, hire a local guide. We spoke to our riad and they recommended a trusted local guide to show us around the souks and medina. It's better to get a guide through your hotel or AirBnB, as there are scammers around. It was reasonable for a 2 hour tour around the city, as we only paid 30-40 Dirhams (CAD $4-5 equivalent) Trust me, trying to navigate through the Old Town takes some time. We only got familiar with the place on our last couple of days there. Another great thing about having a guide is that they can help with the bargaining! Our friend Farid snagged us some of the best deals for our Moroccan lamps and ceramics.
- Once you arrive at the airport, get a SIM card. It is ridiculously cheap (by Canadian standards), and comes in handy when you need Google Maps! I think we paid around 100 Dirhams (CAD $10) and got 3GB of data and some local calling time. Another thing to do at the airport - currency exchange. The rates were pretty good, so we changed some Euros here for our time in Morocco. We didn't use any credit cards (I'd say most places don't take credit cards, and ATMs are quite hard to locate), so make sure it is sufficient for your stay there! Ask for some small change as they will come in handy for tips.
- Dress code: For women, I'd advise wearing long skirts and dresses (Maxi dress work great) to avoid stares and unwanted attention from men. (You do not want to be that scantily clad tourist!) It was definitely uncomfortable at some point as they can be quite open about it. (And we were in pants and tops with sleeves) The local women don't show as much skin, and most wear a hijab to cover up. It is also a sign of respect to the locals dressing appropriately. However, if you're in the New Town, we found that it was quite okay to be in shorts and a tank. The New Town is definitely more modernized, and there's stores such as Zara, Mango, Starbucks etc there. Fortunately for guys, you pretty much can wear whatever you want. Oh, and the streets are mostly cobbled, so bring comfortable shoes/sandals for walking.
- Always drink bottled water. We'd usually stock up the day before as it does get quite hot in the afternoons. (We went in May) Or if you prefer, there's always mint tea which is quite delicious I might add.
- Watch your stuff as there are pick pocketers. I mostly brought my phone around for photos as my DSLR would draw too much attention. Also, beware of any help you may receive from strangers. Such as directions when you get lost. (Which will happen) They will ask you for some sort of compensation for "helping", so avoid asking them if possible. It helps to plan your route beforehand, but if you do get lost - this is where your data will come in handy for Google Maps!
- Taxis - Agree on a taxi fare before you step in. There isn't a meter, and they tend to "alter" the pricing once you arrive. Thankfully, our AirBnB host advised us of how much we should expect to pay for a ride back, so we were aware of any overcharging. Be firm on your pricing and don't budge too easily. We did walk away from a cab once as they quoted a price that was completely unreasonable.
- Get to the airport early! (At least 2 hours) Don't be fooled by this small airport in Marrakech. Moroccans are quite relaxed by nature and this is evident in their immigration process. It does take quite a bit of time to finally get to your departure gate.