Marrakesh - the Red City

Marrakesh Marrakesh Creative Common BY

Winter doesn’t have to be associated only with the cold and snow. It can be spent in a hot place, filled with fragrance of spices and sand – in Marrakesh, the city of smokers. It’s better not to get lost in here.

Recently, in Polish chemists you can purchase Moroccan cosmetics. More and more often we can see new stores arriving on the market, filled with the smell of incense, sandalwood and ambergris, and enthusiasts of oriental cosmetics can buy henna, hair conditioners and body lotions.

Morocco itself is a beautiful country and if we only have a chance, it’s worth a visit. We will get to know not only the intoxicating scents, but also very rare tastes. Where else can we have a mint tea with wormwood or the food permeated with spices such as saffron, curcuma and aniseed? Not to mention the generous use of the aromas of pickled lemons.

Although it takes quite a long time, you can get to Morocco on wheels. As experienced travelers say, it takes about three days, if we decide to reach the south of Spain. You can also take the ferry to Tangier already in Italy - for example, make a boat trip from Livorno to Tangier and spend about 60 hours at sea. You will reach Africa a bit tired, but after rest you can begin to enjoy the hot sun and this exotic, but full of contrasts country. It’s rich and poor, clean and dirty at the same time, and the people here are friendly and willing to pick the last dirham out of a tourist's wallet.

The redness of Marrakesh

Tangier is about 575 km away from Marrakesh. When we get there, we’ll be stunned by the bustle of this city. It’s considered to be one of the most exotic in the country, and for some time it has become very popular among tourists from all over the world. It’s a cultural and historical capital of Morocco and one of the four largest agglomerations. It’s divided into a rich new metropolis, and fortified old part, surrounded by a wall of red brick, to which Marrakesh owes its name - The Red City. Behind the wall is hiding a climatic medina full of souks, which are traditional Arab markets.

The most interesting place of Marrakech, being at the same time its biggest attraction is Djemaa el Fna, also called a magic square without a mosque. It’s a focus of the city’s life. Along with the entire historic center of Marrakesh, it was declared by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. In the mornings it plays a role of a marketplace, and in the afternoon draws the attention with lights and laughter. Here, we can find snake charmers, dancers and street performers of all kinds. On the square you can buy almost anything, from wooden camels and cooked snails, ending with fake Chanel sunglasses. Vendors are very convincing, so it’s worth to practice assertiveness earlier. Let’s not forget about the necessity to haggle.

Near the square, towering over of the flat roofs of the buildings, stands nobly Koutoubia Mosque, the main mosque of the city.

Don’t look like a tourist!

Morocco wants to promote itself as a trendy tourist destination, however, there’s something that stands on the way - and it’s visible especially in Marrakesh. Apart from the bothersome sellers, visitors are displeased by the so-called “faux guides”, or false guides. You don’t even have to be staring on the map with uncertainty to be offered help. Most often this help means bringing tourists to shops or souks run by a family and persuading them to buy something. Faux guides will guide us to where we didn’t want to get, where at the end we’ll see a significantly outstretched hand. Because, of course, this "help" isn’t free.

Nonetheless, cadging tourists in this way isn’t a scam, but an opportunity to earn a few dirhams. Yet the art of resourcefulness.

Where to stay in Marrakesh?

In Morocco, we won’t have any trouble with finding a place to stay – there’re numerous campsites, where you can park a camper. A notable point is Ourika Camp Marrakech, where two people spend the night for 115 Dhs (about 11,50 EUR). This rate, however, applies in cases, where we stay on the campsite from 1 to 10 days, and if longer, it falls to 105 Dhs. The price includes a place for the camper, the access to shower with hot water and a pet, if you plan to take it with you. The access to electricity (10 ampers) costs 25 Dhs per day.

Being in Marrakesh, it’s worth to stay there longer, and explore the attractions of the area. In addition to the beautiful valley of the Ourika river, located in the Atlas mountains, tourists are also delighted by Essaouira river estuary and waterfalls of Beni Mellal. You cannot skip a visit to Szefszawana, a blue fairytale city where buildings blend with the sky. Its beauty deserves a separate story.

Translation: Karolina Strzałkowska

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