Day 1 of Morocco:
From Birmingham, I took a bus down to London with my beau, grabbing the cheapest available options/timing. It’s a wonder how easyBus isn’t as popular; I guess megabus and National Express have been the oligopolies of the UK bus market so much so that everyone just stuck to these two options. Nevertheless, we managed to grab 2pound tickets via easyBus from London Victoria to Luton airport, and even the bus itself was a shared one between national express ticket holders and easybus ones. After staying up all night in Luton airport so that we can catch our 6am flight, we were finally on board the 3.5hour plane ride.
Bus from Birmingham to London Victoria: £4 [Megabus]
Bus from London Victoria to Luton airport: £2 [Easybus]
Flight Luton airport too Marrakech airport: £25 [Ryanair]
We arrived in Marrakech at 10.30am, taking an airport transfer provided by our Riad (a traditional Moroccan house with a courtyard/garden/fountain). For those that intend to live I Riads, I’d highly recommend taking an airport transfer or guide, otherwise stay somewhere that is in city centre/easy to locate i.e. hostels or hotels. There were so many Riads (private lodgings) which used to be rich families’ lodgings that were dispersed all over Marrakech, amidst the confusing alleys and lanes of the town. Perhaps ours was an exception, but we were given the wrong address on GoogleMaps and actually kept losing our way back. Nevertheless, it was a beautiful choice for a really cheap price, and we chose a beautiful Moroccan-themed room with a patio, and were welcomed warmly with tea and really polite hosts.
Airport transfer arranged by our Riad: €20 per cab ride (2-4pax)
Accommodation: £24 per night for two, breakfast included [Courtyard room at Riad Spa du Chameau]
With just one day before our scheduled 4d3nn desert tour, we headed out towards the city centre (20minutes walk away) in search for lunch. Through following the direction towards ‘Jemma El Fna’ along the windy streets, we chanced upon the Medersa Ben Youssef, a past education centre for the locals(?), and entered for 20dh. It was beautiful, with exquisite patterned tiles, and we got to see the living quarters and classrooms within the site.
We then headed for lunch at a nearby café, going against the very first tip I’ve previously read on blogs: Choose eateries with more locals instead of tourists. We went into a café filled with tourists. However, the price was quite cheap, with tajines priced at 30-40dh, and bread for another 5dh each, mint tea and Moroccan coffee at 10-20dh.
We then headed towards Palace Bahia, spending about 45 minutes inside before zooming out of the place. The first few courtyards were splendid, but it got a little more towards being an art museum instead, and me, being someone who appreciates little art, got bored. With no time left as we had to rush back to our Riad by 4.30pm, we had to skip the Saadian tombs, Palace Badii and Majorelle Gardens.
However, we got really lost, ended up spending 1.5hours weaving our way to the wrong part of town due to the wrong location spot on google maps. We met a number of really nice and kind people who didn’t ask for money from us as they tried to give us some directions (the location of our Riad was not known as it was in a different neighbourhood). We ended up heading back to the square, Jemma El Fna and grabbed a taxi for 50dh (15minutes ride) to the correct area of the town. However, as our Riad was off the streets, the taxi driver could only drop us off halfway and he, being not really sure of where exactly our riad is, vaguely pointed a direction to us, telling us to ignore any of those teenage boys who are always bugging/trying to chat up tourists, as how previous blogs have warned us about. However, we eventually failed to listen. After trying to find our way around aimlessly for another half hour, we were frustrated, turning to a couple of tourists with a map (we didn’t have one at that time, nor did we have data to find our exact location) and they recommended for us to ask the shopkeepers. Bad mistake there. The shopkeeper handed us over to one of the teenage boys, who claimed he worked for the shop, and he happily walked us to our Riad. It was a nice conversataion-filled 9 minute walk, only to end up with him stopping about one alley turn away from our Riad, and him demanding for money from us even though we tried giving him 30dh as a gift of appreciation. He demanded for 200dh which was ridiculous, and we insisted on him bringing us to the doorstep of our Riad instead. He started to get nasty and just kept insisting on keeping us at that spot and demanding we gave him some money as ‘compensation’ for his time away from the shop and his ‘injured legs’ from walking us to our place. It was really ridiculous. We ended up giving him 140dh, and he suddenly turned nice again, calling us ‘brother’ and ‘sister’ and shaking hands with us. It was all so infuriating, realising we fell into the second tourist trap that the blogs (and the taxi driver earlier on) have warned us about. Nevertheless, being lost for 2 hours, we finally had someone bring us back to our confusingly located Riad, but for a price.
After refreshing ourselves from a bath and some rest, we headed out again, this time with a hand-drawn map from the Riad toward the Jemma El Fna for dinner. With orange juice for 4dh, a bowl of snail soup for 10dh, and mixed kebab dish for about 70dh (this was a bit pricier), we went for a walk through the bustling but smoky markets. It was really competitive, with numerous shops selling the same thing at similar prices. After weaving through the main souks of Jemma El Fna, we went to a Café that allowed us a panoramic night view of the Jemma.
Thereafter, we headed back to our Riad, losing our way for awhile AGAIN (the streets all look the same), before getting back on track. Having travelled to a number of countries, I’ve never had such a serious case of being lost; in fact I was seldom lost, but this time it was really bad. For those travelling independently, I’d really suggest getting a proper map or googlemaps, and tracking your path as you go.