…is an amazing, crazy city. I spent the first day fearing for my life as we were pushed aside by countless mopeds and donkey carts, only to wander blindly into the arms of enthusiastic shop keepers herding us into the souqs.
Having said that, once I got over the initial culture shock I really loved the place. It was hardly peak season and yet the medina was buzzing. I couldn’t get over the number of mopeds – everyone seems to have one, and often ride around with most of their families balanced on the back. They all drive around with their wing mirrors cranked right in so as to avoid being entangled with members of the public along as they hurtle through the narrow streets.
There are three main options for transport in the city for tourists. Here’s the first, petit taxi. These seem to be exclusively beige painted Fiat Unos and will take up to 3 passengers on short journeys.
Him Indoors and I only discovered the key difference between the petit taxis and the grand taxis the hard way. Petit taxis are metered, grand taxis are not, so you should really negotiate the price before hand. We know this now.
The Grand taxis are mostly Mercedes, and can carry more passengers. They are also a regulation beige though, and if the make of car is something in between a Fiat Uno and a Mercedes (so that’s anything else at all then) it can be difficult to work out which one it is. Even if you do end up in a grand taxi by mistake though, the price of the journey is a tiny fraction of what it would be in a black cab in London, so you can’t go too far wrong.
For a more romantic view of the city, hire a caleche.
These are for tours rather than getting from A to B really, but a very nice way to see the place. The price is supposed to be fixed, but the usual haggling can reduce the price a little.
The main sight seeing opportunity is the Koutoubia Mosque.
It’s the largest mosque in Marrakech, we could hear the five daily calls to prayer from our hotel room. We were in the city during Ramadan, and surprised to discover that they seem to use an old WWII air raid siren to signify Maghrib or sunset.
Also worth visiting is Le Jardin Majorelle, a botanical garden designed by French artist Jaques Majorelle whilst Morocco was a French colony. In 1980 the garden was bought by Pierre Berge and Yves Saint-Laurent (yes that one) and it still remains a very lovely peaceful spot away from the bustle of Marrakech.
I would highly recommend staying in a riad, which are like b&bs with rooms set around a central courtyard. The food tends to be very good too. It’s also worth going to eat in the Djemaa el Fna, the central square.
The food stalls there look dodgy (especially the ones selling sheep heads and snails) but so long as you drink bottled water they should be ok, the one we ate at was really good. You also get to watch the waiters ushering in unsuspecting tourists, which is hilarious.
Then if you do get the chance, go up in a hot air balloon over the desert.