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Things You Wish You Had Known Before Visiting Morocco

St. Louis, MO
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Things You Wish You Had Known Before Visiting Morocco

What things do you wish you would have known or been told about before visiting Morocco for the first time? Anything about any aspect of a trip to this country.

Although we will be on an escorted, relatively small group tour, we generally travel independently and I like to know as much as possible before visiting a new destination. The only guided tour we have ever done (though we have traveled a lot) was to China a few years ago. I just can't feel comfortable without researching things myself. For one thing, I am already looking very forward to the times we'll get to be out and about on our own.

At any rate, I'm sure there are tips that would be helpful. Perhaps things we would not normally think of or expect that some of you out there already have learned from your own experiences.

Please do not hesitate to add any info. you think might be helpful!

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Castril De La Pena...
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1. Re: Things You Wish You Had Known Before Visiting Morocco

The best advice I can give is to lose your guide and companions as often as possible so that you experience Morocco without an interface layer.

Also—although might be difficult being in a group tour—try to get away from the well-trod tourist trail where everyone views you as a wallet on legs.

Do loads of reading before you go. In my book list at morocco-knowledgebase.net/forum/… I can recommend White Gold, Lords of the Atlas and A House in Fez.

There's direct links to PDF files for two 'out of copyright' books on the list.

St. Louis, MO
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2. Re: Things You Wish You Had Known Before Visiting Morocco

Thanks for the book recommendations and input, TIm! A couple of them look especially interesting. Knowing some historical background definitely enhances one's trip.

We will be able to get away from our group a number of times during the tour, thankfully, and we'll definitely try to make the most of those times. Additionally, I agree that getting off the main tourist tracks will likely give us an opportunity to interact more with ordinary Moroccans. Locals in most countries are very often so pleasant, kind and helpful away from the tourist areas and are nothing like the negative stereotypes some promote. (Perfect example: Jamaica.) Most people are proud of their country, want you to like it, and will often go out of their way to help you if you are lost or are having trouble in any way.

To anyone else out there - more tips on anything - specific things or in general - are welcome!

Castril De La Pena...
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3. Re: Things You Wish You Had Known Before Visiting Morocco

Lords of the Atlas is particularly relevant if you are going to visit the Glaoui kasbah at Telouet between Marrakech and Ouarzazate, see morocco-knowledgebase.net/forum/…

Winston Churchill (who was a keen amateur painter) encouraged the son of Thami el Glaoui to become a painter, something almost unheard of in Islamic culture.

Google for 'hassan el glaoui paintings' and switch to 'images'. (Some of the images listed are actually paintings by Churchill).

Edited: 23 July 2014, 18:11
Marrakech, Morocco
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4. Re: Things You Wish You Had Known Before Visiting Morocco

If you need directions in the Medina then ask a shopkeeper, otherwise you may unwittingly get an unofficial guide who expects payment for showing you the way!

St. Louis, MO
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5. Re: Things You Wish You Had Known Before Visiting Morocco

nibrika, very good tip! In thinking about it, I can see how that could easily happen! Thank you!

I didn't see the Glaoui kasbah on the itinerary, but I'm not sure how comprehensive our preliminary itinerary is as the trip is a few months away. I'll still take a look. The Last Story Tellers and A House In Fez look especially interesting to me, though they won't have as much history as some of the others.

St. Louis, MO
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6. Re: Things You Wish You Had Known Before Visiting Morocco

Hmmm. I had really hoped for more input on this thread. So no more recommendations for things others wished that they had or had not brought? (Besides more money, that is!) Done? Seen? Bought?

Edited: 26 July 2014, 06:00
connecticut
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7. Re: Things You Wish You Had Known Before Visiting Morocco

Just got back and loved it. I found that When you go into the medina and souks, it's customary to haggle the price with the merchant 3 times before settling on a price. Be respectful and if you don't like the price just say no thank you and walk away. The merchants are very tenacious but they want to make a sale and the goal is for both of you to be satisfied. Pay in dirhams.

Luton
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8. Re: Things You Wish You Had Known Before Visiting Morocco

OK - three additional reading suggestions for you:

1. Marrakech the Red City ed. Barnaby Rogerson and Stephen Lavington. This is a collection of extracts selected from a host of early and modern travel writers which gives an excellent overview of travel writing about Morocco,

2. The Caliph's House by Tahir Shah. This is a very funny autobiographical account of Tahir's experiences in trying to set up home in Casablanca.

3. Voices of Marrakech by Elias Canetti. A fantastic series of short stories about personal experiences of Marrakech in the 1960s. Winner of the 1981 Nobel Prize for Literature.

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9. Re: Things You Wish You Had Known Before Visiting Morocco

ctsschoolnurse, a good guideline when bargaining.Thanks for that tip! Is there any good level to start with? Like maybe offer 25% of what the seller starts with, or should it be lower? (I wouldn't want to insult the vendor and make him mad, but neither do I want to overpay.)

Voices of Marrakech especially sounds interesting! (Sounds like a Moroccan version of a more modern "Tales of the Alhambra" - one of my favoites! Thanks for the recommendations.

Please keep the Moroccan tips coming, folks!

10. Re: Things You Wish You Had Known Before Visiting Morocco

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