Described as the beating heart of Marrakech the Jemaa el-Fnaa is a mish mash of snake charmers, buzzing market stalls, performing monkeys and horse carriages mixed amongst a sea of people.
|Marrakech’s most iconic building/symbol|
We smirked as we left, finding humour in the situation as opposed to bitterness. We wandered down a small side street, oblivious to the labyrinth of the souks that we were about to enter.
We found our way out an hour later. We passed craftsmen shaping ironwares, a corridor of rainbow-like lamps and bulbs, and shoemakers pounding leather. It was sensory overload, yet it was unique and captivating.
For our second day in Marrakech, we learnt to embrace the experience, but in small doses. After our walking tour, we took a breather in Foucault Square and Cyber Park, sitting amongst greenery away from the chaos of the square for re-energising.
“Hi, I’m a lifeguard and we do aqua gym classes, which hotel are you staying at?” and I’m going to sit here and leer at you very indiscreetly.
The park was a welcome break despite the odd occurrence here and there, as detailed above. There was a characteristic buzz of Moroccan youths singing, playing guitar and hanging out with friends.
We soon descended back into the square, strolling down a quieter street and browsing through stalls. Abi brought some Henna paint after some light negotiation and I brought some Jasmine. On our way back, the shopkeeper yelled after us: “I have tea!! Come have some free tea with me!!” At first, we walked on then we glanced at each other, contemplating the offer. I nodded at Abi, as we headed back towards the shop, hoping that we made the right choice.
He introduced himself as Yousef whilst boiling some mint tea on a portable gas stove. We conversed about family, Marrakech and about our hike in Mount Toubkal. He handed us tea in a small glass each, using the opportunity to show us his wares. He massaged rose oil and argan cream onto our forearms and hands, soothing our weather-beaten skin from the mountains. He dropped a small shard of eucalyptus in our tea: transforming the taste from minty to a strong vicks-like liquid which completely cleared the airways.
Yousef proceeded to pull up a chair, asking us to sit on the same side as him. He gave us each a shoulder/arm/facial massage skillfully.
|Free gifts 🙂|
Overall, Marrakech was a crazy yet truly unique experience. Your senses go into overdrive and everything is of the unexpected. Take everything on board, descend into Marrakech with an open approach, take a breather now and then and embrace the city!
- Basically, do everything I didn’t do haha. Do a little research, bring a Lonely Planet/guidebook as a basis for the city before going.
- It can get tiresome very quickly with the combination of heat/chaos and people hassling you. Take a breather: go to a park or a rooftop cafe, have some orange juice and renew yourself so you’re not too hot and bothered.
- HAGGLE! The shopkeepers always start the price high with the expectation of haggling. Make it friendly/informal, aggression never gets you anywhere.
- The fresh orange juice is lovely, sweet and plentiful! At 4DH (30p) a glass its something not to miss.
- Don’t take anything personally. The men can be quite annoying.
- In essence, the locals are friendly and approachable. Alot of them want your money for everything from directions to guiding you. Be weary, trust your instincts and a firm ‘No’ should stop any excessive hassling.
- We picked up a map for 10 DH (90p) from a Newsagents which was useful for navigating Marrakech: