Our Monday in Marrakech was also my best friend’s birthday (which prompted the trip,) so, as per our itinerary, we were set to explore the sights of the Old Town part of the city. Our hostel, Equity Point (review to come!) was situatied just off Jemaa el-Fnaa, the main square and our starting point for the day’s walking excursion. Armed only with a tourist’s map and Gary’s super-hero sense of direction, we were off on our exploration.
Map of our walk
A short walk from the main square is Koutoubia Mosque, a beautiful building with intricate decoration on the exterior. We admired the buildings and sat in the gardens, which were full of perfectly pruned orange trees, for a little while planning our next move. We would head in the directions of the tombs and the Royal Palace and hopefully find somewhere for lunch along the way!
Lunch at the Kasbah Cafe
We found the tombs after a bit of a long walk – and getting lost! We avoided paying someone trying to ‘guide’ us back to the main square (and, coincidentally, his father’s stall..) and eventually arrived exhausted. We chose to have lunch first, and opted for the Kasbah Cafe, enticed by its rooftop terrace.
We ate a big lunch of pizza and Fanta Citron (what turned out to be the staple drink of the holiday!) and gathered our senses for a little bit. We also heard our first prayer call in Morocco!
The Saadain Tombs
The Saadain Tombs cost 10 DH entrance (about €1) and were well worth the cheap price. Each tomb is decorated in a mosaic pattern, and the internal rooms were breathtakingly decorated.
All of the intricate carvings were done in wood by hand, and the skill gone in to them really isn’t done justice by these iPhone photographs.
The Royal Palace
We got extremely lost looking for the Royal Palace, but found it eventually. The exterior was suitably grand – but also very guarded. And it was closed. As we struggled to find our way back to the main square, we were approached by a helpful local man. We were in genuine need of help with direction, and as he was pretty chatty and friendly, we decided that his help and a bit of company was worth a little bit of money to get back to where we needed to be.
A delightful little scam
Our ‘guide’ was full of knowledge. He told us about the areas we were walking though, about the doors and architecture we were passing. We probably should have known better, but eventually we were lead to a little shop selling tea, oils, perfumes and other interesting concoctions. It was, indeed, right next to where we needed to be. We were grateful to our friendly guide, and we kind of knew what was coming but decided to oblige him anyway.
What followed was a strangely pleasant experience. Our ‘guide’ drank tea with us as he demonstrated his wares, one by one. He told us where the came from, what they were made of, and it was actually a really interesting experience. We picked a few small items, and then proceeded to get scammed. He tried to charge us way, way too much. But, we stood our ground and eventually got him down to an overpriced, but reasonable figure. He gave us directions and, a few turns around the corner, we were back at the main square.
You see, we were grateful for his help and hadn’t had an unpleasant experience. He had been welcoming, and although a little cagey about money, once he realised we weren’t about to do a runner on him it was a more friendly bartering experience. It was the last time we took a guide for help, but I don’t regret taking his help when we needed it either. Plus, I have some delightful smelling perfume sat on my dresser now!
Relaxing at Equity Point Riad
Did I mention our ‘hostel‘ had a pool? It may have been freezing, but our feet were boiling from so much walking in flip flops and a little dip in the pool was just what we needed. We had a little chill out on the sun loungers and Gary had a nap. It had been a long day!
Have you visited the Old Town in Marrakech? What was your favourite sight? Share your tips in the comments below!