Our journey back to Marrakesh was a bit of a nightmare as the “luxury” coach wasn’t quite up to scratch, despite looking fine from the outside. My belly was still playing up anyway but it was by far the hottest day of our week long stay and the aircon either didn’t exist or wasn’t working. 3 hours later we were relieved to step off the bus to find the taxi, who as usual couldn’t find the Riad despite telling us initially he knew where it was.
We eventually got to the parking area nearest the alley where our Riad is located but were followed down the now very familiar path by a dodgy local who tried to “guide” us to the front door, despite our objections. When we got there (all of 50 meters) he demanded payment, the cheeky get. We refused out of principle but he was very persistent and there was a bit of a stand off with us and the hotel owner and this wierdo with no teeth, but we stood our ground and eventually he left.
After chilling out over a nice fresh jus d’orange we left the Riad again to finish our shopping down the souks. The hardest thing is that you have no idea how much something should cost and the starting price is always ridiculously high. The bartering usually takes a similar format.
Us: So how much is this?
Shopkeeper: Oh well this is the best quality tagine/skewers/lamp than the others. How much would you want to pay?
Us: Dunno, about 50 Dirhams.
Shopkeeper: Oh no, come on give me a realistic offer, this the best quality, I have been to England and I know what this would cost there.
Us: 55 Dirhams?
Shopkeeper: No, no no. I give you 2 for 350 Dirhams.
Us: We don’t want 2, we just want one
Shopkeeper: But for 2 I give you best price
Us: No, just 1 please.
Shopkeeper: Ok Ok Ok, so give me a proper price
Us: We did, 60 Dirhams.
Shopkeeper: Are you a Berber or something, how about 200 Dirhams
Us: No, 60 Dirhams final offer
Shopkeeper: 150 Dirhams, thats a great price
Us: No 60 dirhams final offer, we’ll take a look somewhere else, thanks
Shopkeeper: 100 Dirhams then
[We slowly keep walking away]
Shopkeeper: 80 Dirhams
Shopkeeper: OK then 65
Us: OK done, 65 Dirhams
Somehow you always feel like you have paid too much even by bartering hard and getting a significant discount from the starting price. Amanda tried bartering for some skewers at one point but unfortunately was getting her zeroes muddled up, nearly paying £20 for a set instead of £2, the shopkeeper bit her hand off at that price before I whispered in her ear and she suddenly realised her error in the nick of time.
In case anyone reading this wants to know how much we paid for things then this is what we bought with the final price we paid, so you know at the the maximum price something should be (although you could probably get it cheaper still)
- A Medium sized coloured glass lamp – 150D (£11.50)
- A cooking (non decorative) tajine – 120 D (£10)
- Set of 12 hand crafted wooden handled kebab skewers – 65D (£5)
- A wicker bag with leather handle (to carry stuff on the plane) – 35D (£3)
- 2 x medium sized decorative olive/nut pots with lid – 50D (£4)
- Hardwood root drinks tray – 120D (£10)
- Hardwood root tissue box – 80D (£7)
We rounded off the holiday where we started in Le Fondouk restaurant where I sampled a Moroccan pastry and Amanda had cous cous,before flying out the next morning via easyjet back into Gatwick. Its been a fantastic week and I would highly recommend Morocco to anyone looking for somewhere a bit different but not too far away. One of the highlights was our accommodation, the Riad Djebel in the heart of Marrakesh, where our hosts gave us a genuine warm welcome from the start, is impeccably well kept and is an Oasis of calm within streets of chaos! I would describe it as homely, yet professional, a real gem of a find. 2 or 3 days would be a perfect amount of time to spend in Marrakesh I reckon as there aren’t actually that many sites and the real fun is just experiencing the people and atmosphere in the streets. This could be combined with a few days on the coast as we did, or a trek in the Atlas mountains which sounds great and is something I would definitely consider doing in the future. The sahara desert would also be a good visit although it is quite a distance from Marrakesh and might be worth taking an alternative flight to get a little closer.