Inside the Bahia Palace, with glorious architecture, patterns, lines and light.

How Not To Get Mugged Off In Marrakesh

Firstly, get some small change at the airport, otherwise by the time you’ve arrived at your accommodation you’ll have tipped the taxi driver, the baggage cart man, the impromptu performer, the every-single-door opener, and variety of other helpful locals around £8 each, not the 50p they were probably expecting. And you’ll need more cash, asap.

Our trip was a four day hen-do celebration, staying at Riad Chorfa, Marrakesh. We arrived to the most wonderful sunshine filled space with mint tea and roaming tortoise.

Maybe the tortoise not so vegan friendly but they were cute and did climb in our handbags, we decided it was probably equally as cruel to try and take them home in our suitcases on some sort of rescue mission, so Terrence, Terry and Tara continue to roam free!

We stayed at Riad Chorfa fantastically located in the middle of the Medina, with our own two bedroom apartment; complete with lounge area (including jungle), kitchen, bathroom and roof terrace. The space was absolutely dreamy, with traditional furnishings, exquisitely tiled bathroom, day bed, indoor balcony and open air space.

The day bed in our open air communal space, with jungle plants and traditional Moroccan textures.
Fellow bridesmaid Heather having a sneaky jungle nap.

The Riad supplied a very decadent and absolutely delicious breakfast, with different pastries and breads daily; coffee, fresh fruit and juices. It was possibly my favourite bit of the whole trip – I flipping love jam! Bugs and all! (Note: watch out for bugs in your breakfast jam.) As well as breakfast; snacks, salads, wine and soft drinks were available to order, they were all the delicious, convenient and very affordable.

The breakfast spead, with fresh fruit, jam, traditional Moroccan bread, pastries, pancakes, cake, mint tea, fruit juice and coffee.
Each day the Riad supplied this glorious breakfast spread, the pastries changed daily, there was coffee and mint tea too. So so flippin yummy!

We ate – other than the delicious food at the Riad, we ventured out to a variety of different places. Of course we ended up eating a lot of tagines but there was a satisfying variety of food for the travelling vegan.

Our favourite spot had to be rooftop bar and restaurant Terrasse des Epices, which was super busy (booking recommended) and super super cool! The atmosphere was fantastic and the food was delicious, it set the bar high for our first tagine in Marrakesh.

We had researched the restaurant before arriving and were keen to find it on our first night. Unfortunately without internet we were relying on Google map screenshots, which turned out to be leading us to the wrong restaurant – called Café Des Épices (easy mistake!)

So now it’s dark and we’re obviously lost and wandering around the souks (also a really bad plan) when two very friendly young gentlemen offer to show us the way. We traversed empty meat markets after dark seemingly getting further and further in and away from anywhere we knew before, thankfully, arriving at the right restaurant.  We were requested a pretty generous sum from the men (about £8-10) which none of us felt confident enough to debate.

My suggestion and Tip No.2, to avoid getting kidnapped / ripped off is to get someone from your accommodation to show you the way and someone from the restaurant to guide you home, agree a price before setting off. Because let’s just say, this was a situation best avoided.

 

Inside the souks, the spice markets.
Everywhere looks like this! It’s easy to get lost, get a guide and a good map.

On day two we were rather excited to discover Earth Cafe the first vegan, vegetarian and organic cafe in Marrakesh (and Morocco). Where we indulged in a variety of dishes including giant spring rolls, rice noodle stir fry, vege burgers and a some kind of rice dish that unfortunately (because it really was great up until this point) gave me food poisoning and also three more of the party who I’d offered a taste!

The vegan cafe resulted in a whole day of sickness and being cared for by an overly attentive man known as ‘Prince Ali’, who attempted some strange rituals to extract the poison from my belly and kindly delivered me cold water, bread and jam, for which I am very thankful.

The experience has inspired Tip No. 3, to avoid potential food poisoning and feeling slightly mugged off at spending most of your trip laying on the day bed doing little chunders whilst trying to nibble enough bread to sustain a mission to the roof terrace (food poisoning should at least involved tanning time). I would suggest not ordering rice in any restaurants that don’t seem particularly busy. I think it’s likely that the rice from my dish was reheated as the restaurant was quite quiet.

As soon as everyone was well enough again we ventured out to explore the city. Tip No.4 to avoid any more dodgy expensive souk tours comes in the shape of Ali (Nb. not Prince Ali as previously mentioned, this is Tour Guide Ali) the best guide in all of Morocco. You can see his brilliant adventures on insta here.

Booking a guide was easily our best move, Ali took us to a handful of the best attractions, told us more history than we could ever remember, made super cute jokes, knew somebody on every corner, took us for a yummy tagine where there were also kittens* and even found us a herbalist who got me to eat a handful of cumin in order to fix up my bad belly. (Which actually seemed to help for a bit).

*While we’re on the subject of cats, Morocco is literally like cat wonderland. They seem relatively healthy thankfully and we noticed locals putting food out for them. They’re respected little creatures! I love animals, obviously (#govegan), so here’s a little ‘Cats of Morocco’ montage.

If I had to describe Marrakesh in three words – cats, tiles and tat.

Tip No.5 to avoid getting mugged off by Ryanair, book a hold bag. You will buy excessive tat. I had a no tat rule and I still came back with a silver tissue box, perfume bottle, four bookmarks, three magnets and a pair of turquoise earrings. The turquoise earrings came from the man in the photo below, track him down and listen to his story! He is so flipping cool!

The Coolest Man
All of the trinkets and tat you could desire.

However much I don’t want to admit that we did this, Tip No.6 is to avoid getting henna late at night. Therefore avoiding being mugged off by a woman who pretends not to speak English at times that suit, does the worst henna ever and leaves you £20 worse off, looking like a bird has shit on your bum cheek, forcing you (and four other white women) to walking around at night with your arse out… Lesson learned.

We visited a number of beautiful places that are definitely worth your time and the absolutely tiny entrance fee (if any at all) – Ben Youssef Madrasa, Bahia Palace and Jardin Majorelle really were amazing. Cacti, flowers, tiles and water fountains galore!

My final tip which did result in the most hilarious picture from the holiday so you could choose to ignore this one… Tip No.7 to once again avoid being mugged off in Marrakesh is to avoid selfies with traditionally dressed men. It turns out this is not a free activity. Selfies do not come for free in Marrakesh! After having a jolly old laugh with these chaps both men requested a substantial fee for the photo!

Best bit – exploring Le Jardin Majorelle and taking 15,000 selfies with cacti.

I wouldn’t – eat rice or salad in any backstreet or quiet restaurants, go big and busy and stick with tagine!

Top tip – Book a tour guide and enjoy all the little things you might not discover on your own, take the guide for lunch and get to know their story!

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Just finished writing this from the sunny South of France, new post to follow soon(ish)!

Much love and hopefully not food poisoning.

Marie x

 

 

Published by

Marie Tompkins

Sporadic Traveller - Vegan Yogi - Proud Member of Narcotics Anonymous.

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