How To Get The Most Out of 5 Days In Marrakech
You won’t be in Marrakech forever and you may never be able to get back there again! Don’t waste your time!
By: Renyelle Jimenez, Colgate University
Last Thanksgiving, I was abroad in London and couldn’t get home to celebrate with my family. This was really hard because Thanksgiving dinner is a huge deal for me and Londoners aren’t exactly throwing Thanksgiving feasts. While all of our friends explored Europe for the break, we saved our pennies and headed to Morocco! The change of scenery was amazing and even though no one cared about Thanksgiving there either, we had a great time! Here’s how you can do it, too!
1. Learn some Arabic or French! While many people in Marrakech know English, it wouldn’t kill you to learn a little before you go. Americans don’t have the greatest reputations abroad so it wouldn’t hurt to practice a few words instead of assuming everyone will understand you. I’m not asking for fluency, but learning some basic manners like “please” and “thank you” will really help you out.
2. Your cellphone camera won’t do! To say that Marrakech is easy on the eyes would be a gross understatement. The hotel we stayed in had a beautiful view of the Atlas Mountains, which spread through northwest Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia. In between taking photographs of our awesome hotel, I got a few great shots of the mountains that I would have only otherwise seen in postcards. They’re absolutely breathtaking in person.
3. Tour guide? Who needs a tour guide?! You need a tour guide. If you’re only going to be in Marrakech for a short period of time, it is wise to invest in some form of structured tourism. As fun as it is to live like a local everywhere, no one becomes a local when they step off the plane! It’s okay to get a tour guide to show you around. We decided against an organized tour and I wish we hadn’t. We would have seen so many great sights in Marrakech had we gone with an experienced local guide. It’s definitely worth it to do it if you don’t have weeks to explore on your own. You’ll also
4. Learn how to haggle! Unless you frequent markets or street fairs, you’ve probably never haggled a day in your life. It’s just not really a part of our culture in the United States. This is not the case in Marrakech. You won’t find price tags on anything. It’s easy to overcharge a tourist, but don’t make it TOO easy. Do a little haggling and you may just save some money. It also helps to know the conversation rate so you can gauge what a fair price for certain items may be.
5. Eat Moroccan food! Get out of your comfort zone and eat Moroccan food the entire time. We didn’t eat off the hotel property for the 5 days we were there, but we also didn’t eat any American food either. The hotel actually didn’t really have any. The breakfast buffet didn’t have any pancakes and bacon and dinner was devoid of cheeseburgers and french fries. Moroccan food is very delicious (better than anything I ever ate in London) and it’s definitely worth it to hold off on the chicken nuggets for the few days I had there.
6. Explore your surroundings! We got a great deal on our hotel so we spent a lot of time there, but we also took several days to explore what we could of Marrakech. The city is so unlike any place I’d ever been so I wanted to make sure I didn’t spend all of it in the pool (which is VERY easy for me to do). Hotel amenities are everywhere, but Moroccan culture is not! Don’t take it for granted!
7. Buy gifts from the Souk! I’m “that girl” who goes to Marrakech for Thanksgiving and doesn’t buy anything from the Souk for her family or friends. I kept thinking I’d see other things I wanted to buy later on in the day and before I knew it the day was over and I was empty handed. I saw so many one-of-a-kind gifts to get, but I ended up getting absolutely nothing. My friend is a lot smarter than I am obviously, because she stocked up on great gifts for everyone. She haggled for great deals and ended up giving out unique gifts for Christmas. Don’t be like me! I ended up scrambling at the hotel gift shop stocking up on post cards at the last minute because I let the experience of being at the Souk distract me from buying things.
8. Smile for Facebook! Don’t let the one photo of you be the one where you look ungrateful on the trip of a lifetime.
9. Stay longer than 5 days! Marrakech was a beautiful city and my only true regret is that we didn’t spend more time there. I could have used another week exploring any and everything Marrakech had to offer. Unfortunately, I had to go back to reality (which was London so that wasn’t all that bad really). I did, however, have my tan and my henna tattoo to comfort me while I planned my next adventure to Morocco…