🇲🇦 The Country of Mint Tea I

In the most narrow streets, vendors can be found on every single corner. The smell of freshly baked sweets and the sound of loud laughers are always present. People are yelling prices into the crowd, trying to cath their attention. All of a sudden, you jump aside because a motorcycle is pushing its way through the alley filled with people, you only hear him honking as he rushes off. Then, a man mumbling something to himself is walking across the street with chicken in his hands. Five times a day, the muezzin begins to call to prayer. In this pure chaos, the country is vibrant and alive. In this sense: a warm welcome to Morocco.

Morocco can be very overwhelming and one might feel overextended, so it is a good idea to travel to the North African country with a plan.

A typical Moroccan hotel is called Riad: it is a cosy little hotel with an interior garden and sometimes even a pool. It mostly only has about 10 – 15 rooms. You will be charged around 500 – 800 MAD per night per room. Breakfast is normally included. I was a bit sceptical of staying at a rather easy and local Riad at first, but they are more than fine – I happened to enjoy it a lot. Furthermore, nearly all of them have rooftop terraces (as do the cafés) on which you can overlook Marrakech, Casablanca, Fés,…

Moroccon Riad: ‘Riad Dar Moulay Ali’

Food is very cheap. Moroccan dishes are delicious, their local cuisine is one of a kind in my eyes. A lot of rice and chicken is eaten, carrots and other vegetables, an amazing wheat-bread as well as soups are offered anywhere. Their main local dish is called tangine. I would always recommend eating at small, unique localities instead of expensive fancy-looking restaurants. A nice meal with a drink will cost you about 60 – 80 MAD. Expensive places will charge you double or even triple the amount of money. And be aware of the fact that you cannot obtain alcohol. Only 4- or 5-star hotels sell alcohol for a fairly high price. Otherwise, you might be able to find a liquor store in some places. Nevertheless, drinking in public is not allowed under any circumstance!

Near Ourika Valley, High Atlas

While I was in Marrakech, we got out of the city for a day to go visit a Berber village in the High Atlas. For short distances, book a bus or taxi as you will always be able to negotiate the price. According to many other travelers, the train system is comfortable, inexpensive and overall reliable. A train ticket will cost about 30 MAD per hour, e.g. from Fez to Marrakech, which is a 7-8 hour ride, they charge you 160 MAD for a second-class ticket.

Doors of Marrakech

My favourite occupation in Morocco is wandering the Souks, the streets. Following foreign sounds and smells, taking three rights and then a left again to end up in an unknown place. Getting lost is the best way to discover hidden spots, beautiful temples and buildings and to dive into a different culture. There is always a way to get back to the main attractions or to the hotel, so just wandering and wondering for a while will do no harm – quite the opposite.

Crime is no threat to the tourism in Morocco. Neither your health nor your belongings are exposed to a great amount of threat. I actually did feel quite safe throughout the day, though I would definitely avoid walking the streets at night. Yet, what is quite annoying about Morocco are the so-called ‘Faux Guides’. They will try to lure you into shops by telling you that “everything else is closed” or this friend has a “special price with a free gift”. Try to avoid eye contact, it will discourage them. Otherwise, Morocco is perectly safe. A lot of European female two- or three-person groups were traveling thorugh the country as well. Therefore, there is no great threat in any sense.

Tipping:

  • Restaurants: 10 – 15%
  • Taxi: 10 – 20 MAD
  • Guides/Staff: 10 MAD

Do’s:

  • Do buy furniture, bags, clothes etc. at the stands in Morocco. But do not pay the price they start with. Always negotiate. I was always able to end up paying a third of the first offer, set a third of the price as a goal. If you end up paying half the price, it is still fine.
  • Do say “No” (french: Non – if you do not want to give away your mother tongue) to faux guides. They will mostly accept it after two, three tries.
  • If you know a few words of French, definitely try to talk French. You will see that you will not get ripped off as badly as other tourists and that locals will have a little more respect for you because you are able to understand them and therefore discuss.

Don’ts:

  • Morocco’s religion is the Islam. Therefore, you should respect their beliefs and also the way they dress: dresses, skirts and so on are absolutely fine, but please avoid walking around in shorts and a tight top.
  • Do not take pictures of people or sacred places without asking.
  • Drinking in public is illegal! Save that booze for the hotel room.
  • Do not begin discussions about the Moroccan territory. The part which is also depicted on my map on the top of the page is the internationally recognised territory of Morocco. Yet, the country itself also claims the Western Sahara, which is located south of the actual territory.

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