Ahmed was very friendly throughout our trip and gave us sound advice and directions from finding us the best riad to stay in to offering the loan of his moped for a day! At the end of our first meeting together he shook Jonathan's hand heartrily and offered him best wishes. As he turned to me I naturally stuck out my hand for an equal salutation, but Ahmed pulled away, thankfully not looking shocked or horrified, and gently explained that it was his particular custom not to have any contact with ladies at all with the exception of his wife. So there you go. Some Muslim men, and it is only some - others will be quite tactile, do not believe it is proper to make actual contact with women - even as far as refusing to shake hands. I wasn't embarassed and was glad he told me rather than make exceptions and feel bad about it afterwards and it meant that from that moment on, I waited to be offered a hand to shake from a man rather than just assuming.
Lately getting to Marrakech has become very affrodable... at least if you are flying there from Europe. We booked about 4 months earlier with Easyjet, and even if it was Christmas time we managed to find flights from Milan Malpensa for 125 euros, inclusive of all taxes.
We have no complaints: the flight was on time, the airplane modern and quite comfortable (we did not feel we were packed like sardines), the onboard sandwich that we bought was sort of edible (like any other airline food).
Too Touristy But You Gotta Go!
I wasn't sure whether to put this under things to do or tourist traps! Obviously if you go to Marrakech you have to go to Jemaa el Fna. The Jemaa el Fna is the geographical, social and cultural center of the Medina full of the odd and unusual – but seemingly all geared to the tourist.
There are musicians, snake charmers, monkey handlers, etc. all trying to persuade you to give them money for taking a picture. Most of the activity is at night when food stalls set up and open, but there are still plenty of people around in the day and the souks are open during the day as well.
We walked through the square and before we knew it, a man approached Sandy, wrapped a couple of snakes around his neck, stuck a fez on his head, and waited for me to take a picture. Once we realized the game, we were able to avoid the scams. It’s really a shame because you can easily imagine what the square was like hundred of years ago. People gathered, there was food, and storytellers, and it was a true experience. Now it seems like a staged circus.
The maze of souks is still very interesting. All sorts of things for sale - loved the shoes and tangine crockery, the huge cones of spices, the buckets of delicious olives, etc. If you plan to shop do walk around and compare prices - the can really vary from stall to stall. At some the price was several times more than at another. However, if you see something you really, really want, buy it then because it may not be so easy to find the same souk again.
Try some of the olives or sweets, juices, snail soup, etc. One of the nicer experiences is going to the second floor of one of the open air cafes surrounding the JEF. Order a cappuccino and enjoy people watching!
Al Badi - Palace
This palace was built for Sultan Ahmed Al-Mansour in 1603. The name - roughly translated - means "the incomparable". The palace is now in ruins due to the fact that the later Sultan Moulay Ismail preferred Meknes as his favourite city, so he plundered Al Badi thoroughly in 1683. Al Badi remains a ruin, but it has a nice athmosphere, and one can still guess the splendor that it once must have radiated. On the crumbling walls plenty of storks are nesting. As an additional bonus, it is less crowded than most other sights in Marrakech.
"Marrakest out of this world"
If tou really want to be out of what you are really used to, this is the town,you will feell like going to the past, anything, smells, colors, streets, sounds and people is so diferent. you will love to walk trought their old medina. i stayed in a small Ryad very close to plaza jamaa el fdaa then every day i had a litle of it.
"Food in morrocco"
I was really impress by noting that morroccan restaurants outside morrocco are better then the ones in morrocco. normally they do not use so many spices because europeans are no use to that, Y had a veri good meal in a thay restaurant on the back of the club med on plaza jamaa el fdaa, and in cafe oriental.