Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Have you found yourself in Marrakech during Ramadan?

Marrakech is beautiful. Each morning I awaken to the sound of the call to prayer, and last night, someone was signing prayers outside Dar Attajmil, where I am staying, in the heart of the medina. Lucrezia, who owns the riad, and her staff and great at making solo female travellers feel welcome and safe. The souks are nearby and as it is low season, there are fewer tourists.

However, the temperature at this time of year is extreme - 42 degrees celsius and humid. It also happens to be Ramadan which means that a) some places are closed; b) it's best to shop and do deals in the mornings when the temperatures are cooler and the storekeepers not exhausted. I must say, going without food or drink (not even water) from sunrise to sunset, in 40+ degree heat would make this intrepid woman somewhat grumpy, but the Moroccans remain good humoured. It just means things move a bit more slowly.

My experience in all of Morocco has been great. As long as you dress discretely you will not be bothered. Perhaps save the shorts, low cut t-shirts or short skirts for another place (all of which, in fact, would not be good in the heat).

On my first jet lagged day I went to Jardin Marjorelle and listened to song birds and say beneath the trees for a cool quiet time away from the busy souks. The garden is also home to a terrific Berber Museum to get you better acquainted with some of the cultural traditions of this place, and a memorial to Yves Saint Laurent.

Geuliz, part of the modern city, has great design shops and contemporary hang outs. It's a good way to begin the journey.

The following morning I had found my feet and was ready for the good natured bartering with souk merchants. Enjoy the experience as you will not insult them if you offer 1/2 what they say the price is. Then you have tea, be dramatic and play along until you get a price you are both comfortable with. The only warning I would have is do not begin bargaining if you really have no intention of buying. If you do not come to an agreed price, you can walk away without any insult.

OH . .and if you are Celiac, Vegan, Vegetarian, Omnivore . . .Marrakech cuisine is for you! Vegetable, meat, vegan tagines! Heavenly

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