Topics include Transportation, Things to Do, Dining Scene & more!
Where to start with Morocco?
On the plus side, the scenery can be truly breathtaking, with views of the ancient Medinas, cities, mountains and the Sahara absolutely amazing. The sense of history is palpable, and the infrastructure is certainly better than many other countries in borderline Second/Third World Status.
The negatives? The one negative above all other is the cultural difference when it comes to money. Expect your interactions with virtually every Moroccan to be centered around money. This comes from an ancient trading culture, and is ingrained that fixed pricing is rarely ever that. However the sales pitches and monetary discussions go from the merely annoying to outright fraud, and make every transaction potentially exhausting to navigate.
Be very prepared for what you are about to find, and a lot of that depends upon your personality. If you are a Type A aggressive personality, you might not only like but thrive on this kind of competitive interaction . If you are a Type B more passive person, then you may be better off booking a tour from abroad before you even arrive. The negatives are the lack of spontaneity, but at least you will not have to deal with restaurants that either don't show you a menu or decide to charge you whatever they want regardless if it doesn't match their displayed prices.
Language: If you do notknow French or Arabic, you are going to have a hard time as English really is not that prevalent. Practice your sign language and make sure you have a guide book.
Taxis: About as annoying as they can be. They either ask you how much or would throw out an outlandish number 5x what the actual cost should be. At all times, try to find out what the cost should be from someone without a vested interest. Only pay in Dirhams, as when quoted in Euros it doesn't sound like much but can be way more than it should be.
Tours: For things like the Medina in Fes and the trip down to the Sahara to ride camels you really need a guide, but you need to get a couple of different quotes first. The trip down to the Sahara is fairly standard, but make sure you use the guide book to figure out what should be included.
Shopping: Make sure they give you a price, because half the time they keep asking you to make an offer. Almost no matter what they say, look stunned and start walking away. Usually they will ask you to throw a number out, then apologize and say you thought it would be a lot less, and finally throw a much lower number out - that number depends, but try 10-20% of what they quote first depending upon the overall value i.e. its different for an 8000 DM carpet than a 140 DM necklace. They will have 2 reactions. The first will be to look at you as if you were an insect and put the stuff away, in which case you know that you quoted a very low price and can just come back to the store later (don't worry, they don't hold any grudges when it comes to shopping). The other reaction will be to say how low that price is, and on and on. The point is, if the guy keeps talking to you, you know you're not that far away and it gives you an anchor on where to start your bargaining.
Places to go: Casablanca does not need much more than a day or so, probably the night you arrive in order to recover from jet lag. Rabat just needs a quick day trip as its only an hour train ride from Casa. Same thing for Meknes & Volubilis, which are relatively close to Fes. Fes probably needs a day or 2, with Marrakech being the highlight for both tourist stuff as well as shopping. Definitely try to head down to Marzuga to and take the camels out to the tents for the night in the desert, just make sure to be prepared for how cold it can be out of season.