Morocco is one of those destinations that combine African & Middle Eastern traditions while still being much safer for travelers than some other countries in this area right now. No surprise therefore, that places like Marrakesh see huge numbers of international visitors every year. That said, by the time I made it here I had already been to several other Middle Eastern/African countries and thought I'd be well prepared for Morocco. Ah well not quite. Personally I must say as beautiful, fascinating & awesome as this place is, it's probably also the one country out of all those I have visited so far that made me feel the most uncomfortable at times.
The stares, the men touching you and pushing & pulling to get you to look at their shops in the souk - that's pretty intense at the beginning but you do eventually get used to it. At some point I got confident enough to just reply with a loud and clear "no" when my personal space was repeatedly being invaded.
I always try to be polite and kind - I'm well aware that I'm a guest in their country! But sometimes you have to be firm and some things are just off-limits. There were even incidents when local men would yell and hurl insults at me. Now it makes for a funny travel story when I think of the guy who shouted at me that he hates me so much right now because I didn't by my orange juice at his stall. The joys of foreign lands! ;)
That said, I dressed modestly and even covered my hair most of the time. I guess this is just how some folks are. Part of why I love traveling so much is to get to know different cultures. So I guess being thrown out of my comfort zone occasionally is very much worth it if it means I get to see all those cool countries around the world!
There are tons of lovely, welcoming people in Marrakesh as well! Focus on them & file the rest under "cultural experience" and you'll have a fantastic time here!
In any case, I'm super happy that I got to visit Marrakesh! With it's buzzing labyrinth-like old town, souks, tucked away mosques and palaces this place is like no other - no matter how well-traveled you might be, it will surprise you! And I mean this in the most exciting way possible! The smells and sounds are overwhelming and the sheer amount of people, donkeys & mopeds that surround you in the tiny alleys will make you feel like you're part of a very exotic fairy tale.
Keep scrolling to find out what my personal favorites in Marrakesh were! :)
My favorite place?
The rooftop restaurants on the huge main square - Jemaa el Fna.
Especially at night this was the place to be! Even from up here you could hear the spice vendors yell, the snake charmers play their flutes and the local men dancing to traditional music, whirling around at high speed. And all you do is sit up there on your balcony, sip some deliciously sweet mint tea and watch the spectacle. It was like a very vivid dream!
What's a must-try?
The yummie, freshly squeezed orange juice that many stalls sell on the square! You can't miss them - they're everywhere! It's probably the most delicious OJ I've ever had. No matter where you buy yours, the neighboring stall owner might shout at you for not buying your juice there. Don't take it personally - you'll get used to it! My juice seller was really nice! :)
Where did I eat?
Basically most local restaurants can make you a traditional Moroccan vegetable Tagine and that's pretty much vegan-friendly! Other than that we found a beautiful vegan place called Earth Cafe just off Jemaa el-Fna. When you're out & about also try to get your hands on some cactus fruit - they're really delicious and sold everywhere!
What did I buy?
Argan oil of course. Known to be a fantastic hair moisturizer and detangler I stocked up here right at the source where even the purest form of it is much cheaper than in Europe or the USA!