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Marrakech Medina: Navigating the Chaos

 

 

 

 

Marrakech Medina: Navigating the Chaos

 

A quite distinct place which pretty much everyone visiting Marrakech is aware of is the Medina – the central square of the Djemaa El Fna. This ‘Assembly place of Nobodies’ is centre of Marrakech life. The ancient streets, souks, businesses and homes of the Marrakech medina tell the story of a thousand years of urban development at the western edge of the Islamic world.

We arrived from the airport right to the square and were left spell bound. After check-in at our Riad, we strolled through the narrow lanes to the Medina square. Absolute Chaos – This is what defines this place. Take a while, stand back and try taking everything in. A lot of hustle bustle of pretty much everything. You would be approached instantly by everyone who has something to offer you or something to sell you.

The first tip – the word ‘NO’ and a pretty stern version of this comes very handy here and goes a long way.

Snake charmers are something I had read before of being a nuisance here and yes they are. I tried keeping my distance for 2 reasons – first I didn’t want to be duped, and second I am shit scared of these reptiles. If you unknowingly walk close to these guys, the next moment you would have a snake around your neck and they would start asking you for money.

 

 

The second tip – If the snake charmers see you clicking pictures , they would ask for money.

The same goes for the guys with monkeys playing tricks. Not a fan of animals performing tricks! I had one guy who got his Monkey onto my arm the instant I crossed their path but just hushed them away with a stern look. Be prepared for some sarcastic replies.

 

Read our Travel tips for Morocco which can come very handy – Click here

You would see various characters here – some going about their daily life, some trying to dupe the crap out of you. Midst all of this you have taxis, donkey carts criss-crossing the square.

The third tip is – Beware of the fast mopeds which zip past these narrow lanes.

During the day time you would also see witch dentists, palm readers and also ventriloquists – a theatre of chaos. Another must do while at the square is to visit one of the many fresh fruit juice stalls. There are many and you couldn’t miss them. They would offer you half a glass of mocktail to entice you in and then they go for the jugular!

 

 

I happened to try the mango juice and guess what — They offered me mango juice mixed with orange juice. It even had orange seeds in it!

The Fourth tip here is “Go for the orange juice” – that’s one of the best you can have.

Read more about our list of the top things to do in Marrakech – Click here

Towards the evening the atmosphere changes. It gets more frenzy as the sun sets and locals put their stalls out for the evening theatre. Luckily we were staying close to the square and have visited it every single night and I must say its no less than a Carnival. The place comes alive at night.

Story tellers, tight rope walkers and even huge LCD screens dawn this area and not to mention the food stalls.

Read our Travel tips for Morocco which can come very handy – Click here

The Medina at night is a foodie’s paradise – lanes and lanes of food stalls dawn the place. But its mind blogging hard to enter any of these lanes. You are swarmed by guys trying to entice you into their stall offering you numerous deals. And once they know you are from India then you hear all about Shahrukh and Salman khan, some even go to the extent of putting their arms around you trying to entice you into a stall – So rather than being polite, my first tip above comes real handy here. Just be stern!! It can really get daunting at times and we avoided going into these lanes again from the next day.

 

 

The fifth tip – Visit the food stall where you see the most localites.

Ofcourse there is no point in visiting the Medina and not binging on some street food. We avoided doing the same till the last night as we didn’t want an upset tummy ruining our vacation, however, on the last night all hell broke loose. Always visit a stall where you see the most locals having their dinner or enjoying a snack. On the perimeter of the square, we found two such stalls offering fresh sausages and other offering sheep’s head. We tried both sitting midst the locals next to the smoky grill and we didn’t regret one bit – absolutely delicious.

The other side of the medina are the famous Souks of Marrakech. I heard that this is a 19KM plethora of alleys and shops selling everything one can imagine of. On our last day, we decided to explore the Souks. Having been to Grand Bazaar in turkey before, the atmosphere wasn’t overwhelming in the Marrakech souks.

 

 

There are various maps to the souks, however the best advice here is to ‘Get Lost’. Its next to impossible to navigate using any maps here. So just follow the alleyways and you would see various new alleyways branching to the left or right which take to a different region of the souk. If lost just ask a shop vendor and he would surely help.

One can find everything from olives, spices, clothes, twinkling lamps, crafts, antiques, wool, silk, leather goods and much more here. But the key here is – Bargain.

The Sixth tip – Bargain in the souk – Ask for 1/3 the asking price.

We aren’t best at bargaining but on any given day – Li is the worst at it! However, the thumb rule is ask for 1/3 the asking price, if not walk. Usually you will hear them call back – in that case budge a little else you now know the baseline price so go to the next shop offering the same product. Some shopkeepers entice you with Mint tea and then you are obliged to have a chat or buy stuff – avoid such situations. Keep my first tip above handy.

The Medina – renowned around the world truly offers an exotic and ageless experience.

Read more about our Morocco visit– Click here.

If you have queries/feedback, please leave a comment and I will get back to you as soon as possible.

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Author Bio

I’m not the one who has thrown his towel in the ring of the corporate world and taken to full time travelling. I am still the regular guy who works regular hours and lives a simple life but with a passion for not just travelling but for life.

Hopefully, the wonderful experience we have shared on ‘Earths Pilgrim’ will inspire you to break the shackles of a regular life and explore the magnificence of our planet. Enjoy the Ride!

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I’m not the one who has thrown his towel in the ring of the corporate world and taken to full time travelling. I am still the regular guy who works regular hours and lives a simple life but with a passion for not just travelling but for life.

Hopefully, the wonderful experience we have shared on ‘Earths Pilgrim’ will inspire you to break the shackles of a regular life and explore the magnificence of our planet. Enjoy the Ride!