About two weeks ago I realised that I had some more leave to use before the end of the year and so ended up booking a last minute trip to Marrakech. I last visited this wonderful city in late 2008 and fell in love with the place.
DAY 1 (WEDNESDAY)
Flying in on the Wednesday from Gatwick, my flight took just over three hours. A short taxi ride brought me to the Kenzi Farah Hotel that is located in the Hivernage area, I arrived at around 16:00. After dumping my baggage I headed straight for the Djemaa El-Fna to wander around in total awe and amazement whilst watching the sun set behind the Koutoubia Minaret. I enjoyed some food at some random restaurant before heading back to the hotel.
DAY 2 (THURSDAY)
After heading down to breakfast I headed out into the Medina to explore randomly for a few hours. I wore my white djellaba which I had brought on my last visit. The local people seemed amused by my outfit, but not most of the other tourists! I returned to the hotel at around 10am and spent the rest of the day by the pool soaking up a little too much sunshine, before heading back out into town to take some night scape photographs in the evening. I decided it was time to take my camera equipment back to the safety of the hotel as the families started to disappear from the street.
DAY 3 (FRIDAY)
On Friday I set myself the goal of circumnavigating the Medina walls. I set off in an anticlockwise direction which first took me along a section of the walls with the breathtaking High Atlas mountains as a backdrop. My walk took me right away from the tourist areas and I got to see another side of Marrakech: Homeless people, particularly the elderly, and lots of overworked donkeys, several of which seemed to be in pain from the loads that they were being tasked to move. On completing my circumnavigation I headed back to the hotel for a few more hours by the pool. I headed back out in the evening for a feed before returning for a well earned sleep.
DAY 4 (SATURDAY)
Today was to be a day of bartering so after a filling breakfast I headed out into town, this time wearing my black and white djellaba. First stop were the Musee de Marrakech and the Ali Ben Youssef Medersa – I tried my best to avoid the inevitable tour buses. I had visited both previously, and I’d still say that they were worth another ten visits – both are exquisite. I spent the next four hours roaming around the souks in search of gifts and manged to drive some hard bargains, paying less than 25% of the initial asking price in all purchases, although that did mean that more than a few storekeepers turned down my final offer. I returned to my hotel in the late afternoon for a few hours by the pool.
DAY 5 (SUNDAY)
After the obligatory early breakfast I headed back into town for some more fun and games in the Souks. As I crossed the square I was accosted by a shop keeper that I had met yesterday who got rather aggressive when I said I wouldn’t return to his shop to buy something. Unfazed by the rather surreal confrontation, I continued on my way and spent the next few hours bartering over the gifts that I wished to purchase. My bartering tactics are as follows: (1) Accept the greeting and make the small talk. (2) Explain that I have many presents to buy and that I wasn’t completely decided on what presents I would like to purchase. (3) Look at an item and take a real interest in the quality of the product. (4) Ask for an initial price. (5) Offer around 10% of the answer and then go up only to the value that I think the item is worth. Normally I wouldn’t pay more than 25% of the initial asking price. I always try to keep it friendly with lots of eye contact and smiles but never budge very far! If it’s not happening, just walk away. I think it actually helps that I wear the local attire. After lunch, I returned to the hotel to spend the afternoon by the pool. If I hadn’t burnt already, I sure as had by the evening.