Dear Internet Wanderer,
It’s been a while…(an apology will not suffice) I hope you enjoy reading chapter 2 of my epic adventure in Marrakech!
Envision this: Lines of small shops as far as the eye can see, tucked away into the corners of red walls. Each shop is filled with vibrant, patterned dinnerware and curios of every imaginable shape and colour. In the distance, the delicious aroma of kebabs wafts in the air (sorry vegans!) and the not-so-distant calls of the vendors can be heard beckoning tourists to their shops. These are the souks of Marrakech – a market like no other.
After relaxing in the riad for longer than we’d like to admit, my family and I stepped out of our cosy room to brave the souks. I felt like I had been transported back in time. Every aspect of the souks was so captivating that we didn’t know where to turn. From bowls and magnets to spices, they had it all. Lost in the magical aura of it all, we wandered around aimlessly for a while until we finally decided to try our hands at haggling (which btw, should be considered an olympic sport what with the grit, tact and perseverance).
TIP : Haggling 101
*Disclaimer – As you will soon realise, I am definitely not an expert at this!
Step 1: Always look deeply astonished (maybe even outraged) no matter what the starting price is.
Step 2: Start off your haggling mission with 1/4th of the price of the item.
Step 3: The shopkeeper will most likely shake his head in disapproval and maybe lower the price by an insignificant amount.
Step 4: Disagree and walk out of the store for dramatic effect.
Step 5: Wait for a frantic call by the shopkeeper who will (hopefully) surrender and lower the price to your satisfaction.
Step 6: Enjoy the fruits of your labour!
Fun fact: To understand how intense haggling can get, know that hidden away in a bookshelf in our riad, was a manual with detailed instructions on HOW TO HAGGLE!
My mom haggled for a tajine and a bowl and she honestly deserved an Oscar for playing her part perfectly in this comical pantomime. I, on the other hand, was over-excited and inexperienced. I immediately blurted out “100 Moroccan dirhams ($11)!” for a beautiful bracelet and silver Berber earnings that were originally 200 dirhams. The shopkeeper gladly accepted the price and my mom laughed at me because she knew that he would have sold it for 70 dirhams. You live and you learn!
Overwhelmed by the energy of souks, we made our way to the Jemaa El-Fnaa, a lively marketplace and a definite must-see in Marrakech! This was another adventure that simple words won’t do justice to. There were fruit stalls, clothes shops, MONKEYS casually roaming around, and SNAKE CHARMERS! (Yup. Actual cobras being hypnotised by men with flutes) I was caught unawares and literally jumped when I turned around and saw the cobra swaying around just 20 inches behind me! Shocking as it was, I realised that I would never get to see something like this in Mumbai.
TIP : Avoid braving the souks alone!
If you’re visiting Marrakech for the first time, I highly recommend that you explore the souks with someone else. The marketplace can be very overwhelming and intimidating for a solo-traveller. We even had to help a lost backpacker who was STRUGGLING to find her way to her riad! If you’re left with no other option, check out my previous post for apps that will help you navigate the Medina.
The ambience crafted by the distinctive sights in the busy market coupled with the aroma of cinnamon and spice wafting in the air was almost magnetic and every time I turned back to make my way to the riad, something new and exciting caught my eye and lured me back in.
NEXT POST: The final chapter in this series, and my favourite – my journey to the breath-taking Atlas Mountains!
Thanks for reading! I’m a blogging newbie so please comment and give me feedback.
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