Part of my visit to Marrakech was to re-familiarise myself with the riads in the Medina – all of which on paper seem quite similar. We were escorted round the city by Rachid, our host. Rachid kindly arranged transport for us however we decided that, as this was our first afternoon, walking would be better to get a feel of the place. What a difference a riad makes! Some of our properties are small, intimate places, and some are larger, more opulent comprising of several riads joined together. Whichever you choose there really is something for every style and budget. The fabulous themed suites at La Sultana, contrast with the homely atmosphere of the Riad Opale. We walked miles during the afternoon and evening and got a really good feel of the location and styles of the riads giving me all the more ability to assist our guests in choosing for their stay.
Jemma el Fna Square
Walking from our riad to the main square in the early evening we were unsure what to expect. Much had been said on various sites and forums on the internet about the behaviour of locals and we were a little defensive. Walking along a man told us that he had just finished work in a hotel and was heading out to his friends restaurant. We tried not to strike up a conversation, however when he steered us around the taxi drivers ask us if we needed a cab, my friend commented under her breath ‘oh no, we’re going to have to pay him’ – he overheard and was adamant that he was just walking in that direction. When we reached the square he told us where his friend’s restaurant was and with a cheery wave walked away.
The square was buzzing and whilst we were approached to ‘eat here’ or have henna tattoos, buy lanterns or flying lights everyone took ‘No, thank you’ for an answer.
Scarves and Sharif
In the souks you do get asked to ‘look’ at the many, many little shops as you walk through, and a polite ‘No, thank you’ usually suffices. However, every now and again a shopkeeper just had the knack of winning our attention. Sharif and his scarf shop was one of them. I can’t quite remember his opening line, but when we all laughed and smiled he invited us to look at his scarves and in no time we were all donned up in Berber headscarves. Once suitably attired he gave us all a ‘Berber’ name – Fatima Tagine, Alesha Couscous and Sohayla Pastilla. We had such a good time in that little shop and we did end up buying scarves from him, but we were happy to give our custom to a trader who made the whole experience fun.
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