Overall score (Dan) = A
Overall score (Jocelyn) = A
Total days = 7 nights, 8 days
Total cost = $934
Cost per day = $117 / day
Flight costs = $616 from Tel Aviv (with stops in Istanbul, Rome, and Milan!!)
Cities visited: Marrakech, Essaouira, Taroudant
It seems like every time we think we’ve seen it all, we stumble into a new country and are blown away by what we find. From the snake charmers controlling the customer’s wallets as easy as they do the snakes, to the goats that climb trees in search of their next meal, Morocco is full of wonder, mystery, and danger; not necessarily the danger of physical harm, but more the danger of being swindled.
We were lucky enough to meet a friend in Morocco who pretty much planned out our entire 8 days! It came at a good time because after 8 months of researching new countries, reading the top 10 things to do on Lonely Planet, and figuring out where to stay, we were ready for a mental break.
Although we had a break from planning, our minds were still supercharged because Morocco was so intriguing. We even journeyed outside of Marrakech when we rented a car and drove to the coastal town of Essaouria and then to Taroudant before driving the very challenging Titsi and Test pass. Each place offered something new and unique and we’re very glad we did the African “roadtrip”.
How far does your money go in Morocco?
Moroccan uses the Durham and $1 US equals roughly 8 Moroccan Durham. Although the lodging prices were somewhat more than the cheapest countries in SE Asia, the price of food and other expenses were mostly just as cheap which allowed us to keep our spending at $117/day.
Spending details in Morocco
Here are our per day spending highlights:
Lodging = $42 / day
Souvenir = $29 / day
Food = $27 / day
Transportation = $14 / day
Excursion = $4.6 / day
Total hotel points used = Le Meridien Marrakech 1 night (3,000 points)
As I wrote on my Facebook when I posted the first picture of a goat in a tree, I think our trip can now be complete as we’ve officially seen the unlikely tree climbers in action. Although our first experience with them was a bit of a scam, once we found the true tree climbing goats, we couldn’t get over what was actually happening. We pulled our car over to the side of desert rode covered with Argon trees when we saw the first few goats in the lower limbs. After we walked closer, we spotted more goats throughout the trees and laughed as we heard the occasional goat tumbling to the ground as they lost their footing! No goats were hurt while fulfilling this dream of ours.
Morocco offers an incredible diversity of geographies, cities, and cultures to see thanks to its influence over the years from Mediterranean cultures, local Bedouin people, and the French who ruled for 42 years until 1953. Essaouira was probably our favorite city as it was a beautiful fortressed coastal town that over the years has become home to many hippy Europeans escaping the formalities of a former life. Taroudant was closer to the Sahara desert and didn’t see many tourists and as we walked through their dirty streets, we became the attraction to the locals who weren’t used to seeing tourists walk through their town.
Marrakech was by far the most hectic of all of the towns. It is possible to escape the sensory overload in newer parts of the city, but as you enter the popular Jemma el-Fnaa you’re engulfed with exotic smells, sounds, and people. During the day it’s filled with monkey performers, vendors selling fresh squeezed orange juice, and of course the snake charmers. As night fall begins to take hold, the square transforms itself into a street fair with street vendors offering “no diarrhea for two weeks” if you eat at their stand, performers dressed up in traditional ware hounding you for money if you take a picture of them, and fare-like games where you can buy a few dirham to challenge yourself at one of their games. Many people don’t like it because it’s such an overload, but each night it pulled us back into its mystical maze of surpises.
The vendors in Marrakesh were easily the most aggressive of any we’d encountered on our previous 8 months around the world. They’d use any trick possible to lure you into their small stores to try and sell you something, and if you were uninformed when beginning your haggling, they’re sure to win. We even got ripped off by an innocent looking older lady who knitted wool caps – which we needed for Iceland. She couldn’t speak English (allegedly) so the man in the booth next to her helped negotiate. When we asked how much for two caps, he told us 360 Durham ($38 USD) which we knew was way too high. However, we began to negotiate and after he pleaded with us to “let the poor old lady” have some more money, we settled on 250 Durham ($30 USD) which I knew still seemed too high, but we liked the cute little lady and bought it. As we continued past other shops, we saw the same hats and decided to test our price. When we heard the lady quickly come down to 40 Durham ($5 USD) for two, I got quite angry as we realized we had been taken big time! I wanted to go back and raise hell but decided we got taken fare and square (is there such a thing??).
As if the vendors in Marrakech weren’t bad enough, the street performers were even worse. After a quick picture walking by a guy dressed in a “Jester” type outfit, you’d quickly get accosted by him asking for money. Even if you gave him a decent amount, he’d insist on more money… and keep insisting… and keep following you asking for more money. We hadn’t encountered anyone this aggressive in our previous eight months. It was incredibly annoying and they’d even come after you if you took a picture in their general direction of the entire square. It was quite annoying!
Even stranger than that, we had two separate occasions where random guys walking down the street would ask us for a cigarette. After we said no, one of them tried to shake my hand which I politely said “no thanks” to. One of them had the nerve to push me as we walked away! It was a small older man who I could’ve knocked to his butt instantly, but obviously the better decision was to keep moving as we did. It just felt like everyone tried to get something from you in Marrakech, and it got old fast.
In conclusion, we enjoyed Morocco overall, but I think we were a bit disappointed with the way everyone treats you in Marrakech. However, the sites of the city along with our road trip across the incredible sites of Morocco made it worth the trip. Would we ever go back? Probably not.
Next up: UK