Make the most of Marrakech
Posted on October 17, 2011 by James Robbins
If you’ve decided to make the journey into Marrakech, a little planning goes a long way. Here are just a few suggestions for making the most of your day in The Red City.
For a fabulous day of sightseeing, take the mini-bus leaving Tigmi at 10ish. This will get you into the city in just half an hour. Head straight for the Majorelle gardens (also known as the Yves Saint Laurent garden), as these are stunning on a good day and the colours are magnificent. It’s best to go early before the crowds, though – otherwise you could find yourself on a conveyor belt following coach-loads of tourists.
Grab a cab
Walking between all the wonderful things to see in Marrakech will eat up your time and also make you hot and tired. Don’t be afraid to jump in one of the small Fiat Uno taxis around the city. (Be aware: they only take three people. So if you are a family of four you will need two taxis.) If you are in separate taxis, do make sure you both know where you are going.
I have heard of families ending up in different places, usually because of a Hollywood-esque (tempting but wholly inadvisable) request to “follow that cab”. All of the taxis in Marrakech look the same. It would be as hard as following a black cab around Piccadilly Circus or a yellow cab around Times Square.
Make time for Lunch
Ask one of the team at Tigmi if you are looking for something specific or perhaps a little special. My personal favourite is Kechmara, in Guéliz. This is a chic Moroccan café in the new town; if you choose to eat there, you’ll find a lovely sun terrace on which to eat good food at a fair price – oh, and it is all served with a warm smile. Kechmara is also a good place for those wanting to have a coffee and check up on emails. Ask one of the waitresses about their free Wi-Fi to avoid amassing roaming charges on your iPhone or Blackberry.
Another Popular place for lunch is Grand Cafe de la Poste, this is located, again in the new town but a little closer to the Medina.
Know your prices
In the afternoon, head to the souks and just suss them out. Maybe head to the Ensemble Artisanal, this is on Avenue Mohamed V. It is a government souk so the prices are fixed. I am not saying shop here, but it will give you a good idea of prices, and will stop you from getting ripped off in the actual souk. Then head to the souk …
Soak up the souks
I personally would not buy anything on the first visit, well OK just one or two things but I would save the rest for the second visit if you have time. This first visit is so that you can enjoy the souk: see it, smell it and feel the rush of it.
Sometimes the souk is very tame, but this depends on the time of year. Foot traffic can be much worse than walking down Oxford Street during the Christmas sales – it simply has to be seen and felt to be believed. The best part of seeing the souk is getting lost and finding yourself in a random alley, (Please note: I am recommending this in the daylight, not in the dark of night), selling just leather, or in the metal district where you will note that health and safety in Marrakech is, well, … relaxed. (You may find yourself stepping over workers using welding tools wearing just sunglasses or holding the nail they are banging with their toe.)
Depart, rest and return
Head back to Tigmi – after a tiring day in Marrakech, you’ll be in need of a cooling, long drink and a swim in the pool.
If you decide to head back into Marrakech, then I would go in the afternoon or evening. This time go straight to the Medina (the ancient part of the city) and get those items that you have seen and want to now spend time haggling for. After you have shopped, head to one of the roof top cafés and enjoy a mint tea while watching the life in La Place Djemaa-el-Fna (the main square). Alternatively, head to Kosybar’s roof terrace if you feel the need for something a little stronger.
At dusk the main square comes to life with all the snake charmers, story tellers, dentists and street performers. The air becomes filled with smoke from the food sellers, the noise is deafening but awakening and it truly is an amazing experience.
If you’re starting to get hungry, jump on the last mini-bus back to Tigmi at 7pm. Should you wish to return later and stay longer simply call the hotel and we will send a taxi to meet you.