Ok, we’ve talked about the food; now, let’s talk about what
to do between the eating. The first recommendation is to get lost in the souks.
But, that’s not something you need to be told to do, because I promise you that
even those of you with the best sense of direction will get lost. Take a map,
but don’t trust it too much. We even gave our map to a couple of shop owners to
show us where we were and they didn’t know. Be wary of those telling you (kids
especially) that they’ll take you where you’re going because they happen to be
going that way as well – it’ll cost you.
Hopefully while you’re lost in the souks you’ll find some
cute shops, after all it is the place where I found bronze ostrich-skin shoes
that were apparently only made in my size. Snap.
Also, bargain, bargain, bargain. The general rule of thumb
is that you should pay half of the initially quoted price, and many of the
things that you see will be in other stalls so you can easily say you’ll keep
looking or come back. Must-buys include spices, amber, and argan oil. If you’re
thinking about buying some leather, do yourself a favour and don’t go to see
the tanneries. You see, there’s a reason they give you a sprig of mint to smell
when you arrive at the tanneries, and that they have been banished to the outskirts of the medina – they treat the leather with pigeon poop and
urine. Yep. You read that right. And once you smell that, you can never un-smell
it, and you will forever think about how your new bag is so soft because it had
a nice long bath in pigeon poop . . . and urine.
When wandering through the Jemaa El Fna square, day or
night, don’t make eye contact with the guys will monkeys or snakes, or the
women offering henna tattoos. They will put a monkey on your shoulder, or grab
your hand and start drawing!
In terms of sights, two places to see in the medina and to
escape the heat would be the Ben Youssef Medersa, and the Saadian tombs. Check
out the dorm rooms of the medersa, and try to imagine 5-10 people sleeping per
room. It makes my old little Vancouver condo look positively luxurious.
Don’t bother with the Royal Palace, as it is never open to
the public, and don’t believe anyone you pass on the way there who promises
that today is the only day it is open. Lies. Also, the mosques are reserved for
Muslims only, so you’ll just have to enjoy them via the call the prayer that
you’ll hear five times a day, or from outside.
Take a break from the medina and head over to check out the
Jardin Majorelle, if only to say you visited Yves Saint Laurent’s house. More
importantly, the garden is spectacular, it’s a nice escape from the heat, and
Majorelle blue is a colour best seen in person. It's also my future home, so you'll want to get familiar with it.
And remember, if you want to enjoy that new leather purchase, stay far away from the tanneries. Or, just come to visit me in Italy and buy some leather here!
|I took a picture of this corner so we could find out way back to the riad, and caught this kid in the middle of telling me, ''No pictures, please!'' Sorry, kid.|
|The ''Look Up'' rule applies everywhere.|
|Yves Saint Laurent designed a Love card every year for the holidays. This is my year! |
Jardin Majorelle photos below.
|Jemaa El Fna square at night.|
|From the outside (of the medina) looking in . . . and around.|
|A mosque you cannot enter.|
Souk photos below!