Running low on money as the bank machines would not accept my Austrian bank card and having to survive the day on a few notes and coins! By the evening we only had enough to buy a bowl of soup and a piece of bread! People were most surprised at tourists having no money and were really friendly and accommodating even offering to give us free food and drinks. The best part was in the main square at twilight when the colourful market stalls opened up to sell hot soup and all different types of amazing food. A snake charmer tried to get us to pay to hold his snakes!! When we told him we really had no money he let us hold his snakes for free and took pictures of us which we still treasure as it is an unusual sight and really sums up our first trip to Northern Africa - two girls with a long green snake round their necks surrounded by a large group of Moroccan men all looking at us!
HAGGLE HAGGLE HAGGLE
As you are walking any of the main tourist areas, a young boy will come up to you and invite you to his Uncle’s carpet shop with promises of a good price. Once you are led through anonymous alleyways you will enter a large cavernous room full of an incredible amount of carpets from floor to ceiling. Your young guide will have vanished, as he has now earned his small commission. And now the show begins! If you really want to buy a carpet, you need an amazing amount of intestinal fortitude. Sellers always seem to start at $1000 and tell you all about how the carpet was made. Just to make you feel guilty, they will open and display 50-60 carpets for your perusal.
You can buy a good, large carpet for $50-100, but probably not in Marrekesh. I have seen some absurd opening prices from sellers for things like bags of tea starting at $30 that locals can buy for 1-2 u.s. cents. You will not win unless you have hours of spare time. If you really have your mind set on a carpet, get a reputable guide/driver to take you to a village. You will save money and get what you really want even with the added trouble. If you like arguing though, the carpet shop is the place for you! No more than $200.
Nice restaurant with belly dancers
Nice plush restaurant with great food. Cheapest set menu is 220D which is pretty reasonable. During the meal there are belly dancers and a woman balancing a tray of candles on her head whilst dancing, very clever!
The heartbeat of the Medina
The Medina, or old town, is the most interesting place in Marrakech. Inside the Medina, the centerpiece is definately Djemma El Fna- the "Big Square," as it is often refered to by the locals and on signs in the Souk. You can do anything from get Henna, to watch cross dressing men dance, to eat snail soup. Here are a few tips that I think can help your time in the square go more smoothly, ones that I received from the Morocco owners of my hostel.
The square is much more "hopin" at night, but is enjoyable all day long.
1. You will be asked for money for many things. Watching performers and taking pictures especially will get a hat shoved in your face asking for Dirham. Its nice to give a few dirham for watching a show, but sometimes they will ask you for a ridiculous amount. Give no more than 10 dirham at a time, its fair. There are people with animals who you can take pictures with, like snakes and monkeys. Set a price before you take the pics. Again, 10 to 15 is fine. If they want more, walk away and they will mostlikely call you back and agree on your price.
2. You can get Henna done from a number of women who sit on the square all day. These women are quite agressive as well, but find someone that is doing someone else whose looks good. Look throught their books and choose a designs and decide on a price before hand. Simple designs can be around 10 dirhams, while more intricant ones can go up to 50. Never pay more than 70 for something. They will try to say 200-500, but just walk away and they will pull you back, and you can start bargaining.
3. Eating on the square is an even in itself, and there are plenty of places to choose from. make sure you know the prices for things. Nothing is ever free. Everything they put infront of you you will be charged for, even if you didnt order it. When they bring out appetizers or bread that you didnt order, you can politely tell them you dont want it and they will take it away. make sure you know the price you should owe, sometimes they will over charge you, especially if you ordered a lot and they think you dont know the exact price.
4. There is a lot of stuff to buy and bargaining is expected. A good rule of thumb is that whatever price they say, divided it by four and thats around the real price you can bargain it down to. If you buy multiple items, you can bargain it down even more. Dont be rude to someone, if you can get it down to the price you want, walk around. The same stuff is sold all over the place.
Marrakech is a great place and can be enjoyed, especially if you are prepaired for what you can expect.
Exhibitions of contemporary art
In the galleries around the central courtyard of the Marrakech Museum you will find temporary exhibitions. The displayed artworks are not only traditonal Morrocan art, but also contemporary art.
In 2007 I saw a nice exhibition of colourful paintings and artworks, showing a variety in technics and style. I always enjoy to look at contemporary artworks of local artists, because they show often a very interesting mixture of the local culture ~with or without using traditional symbols ~ and a modern style.