Last day in Marrakech today! Depending on how you’re feeling you’re either sad or you can’t wait to get out of the city. I think I was feeling both of those things simultaneously. At any rate, we are on our way to the desert tomorrow so there’s that to look forward to.
Today is basically a free/catch up/ and finally shopping day! By now you’ve wandered the souks enough and should have an idea as to what you want to bring home. But let’s start the day with one last tourist site and then hit the souks for some shopping!
Dolla Dolla Dirhams, y’all!
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Written by: Stephanie
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Bahia Palace is a short walk from the riad and definitely worth trekking to. Unlike the Badi Palace, which we saw a couple days ago, Bahia does retain some of its palace-like qualities.
It was built in the 1800s for a former slave who rose the ranks, and supposedly its name means “brilliance” or “the beautiful” in Arabic. I don’t speak Arabic so we all just have to trust that’s true – I wouldn’t recommend getting that on a tattoo, though haha.
It sits on 2 acres and has many, many rooms off of a central courtyard. You’ll notice more tile mosaics, incredibly detailed carvings, and cedar scattered around the palace.
Check those mosaics!
The cost to enter Bahia Palace – 10 Dirhams. From Bahia head into the souks!
There is no good way to start you off in the souks, so find an entrance point near a major landmark in the Jemaa-el-fnaa and run with it. We liked to use Cafe Argana as our landmark. It’s really tall and can be seen from anywhere in the square.
Word to the wise: Don’t use a souk shop as a landmark because the shops change. It was on this day that we got lost trying to find our riad! We had always been turning left at the carpet shop and then all of a sudden it wasn’t a carpet shop and we didn’t recognize the place or any of the other shops and ended up a bit lost.
The alleyways of the souks are like spaghetti, veering off in various crooked directions and are tremendously easy to get lost in. However, you’ll quickly realize the further you venture
It’s sort of this catch 22 – you wanna go deeper (hey-o) and find the best shops, but you’re too scared to lose the light of day from the square. My advice with the souks is how I felt about Morocco in general – just run with it.
That being said, use your brain and be smart about it. Go
When you are finished shopping, ask the souk owner (who you just gave money to) how to get back to the square – they should be more than happy to help you. Ours even took us most of the way back and just left his shop abandoned.
I spent a lot of time researching beforehand not only how to barter but typical prices of the particular items I wanted to purchase. Spoiler alert- there is no guide for this. It’s so hard to say “don’t spend more than 50 Dirhams on a bag or 100 Dirhams on a pouf. Everything is so wishy-washy and totally dependent on the shop, the day of the week, the time of the day, and your bartering skills/poker face.
The most useful piece of information I can give is, offer a starting price of about 60-75% less than the stated price and gradually increase from there. Most often you’ll end up paying right around 50% of what they initially quoted you. And for us, that was a win. We also would quick convert Dirhams to Dollars and asked ourselves if we’d pay that price back home. If so, buy it – if not, keep walking. This stuff, even the things you reallllllly love are a dime a dozen. Walk around another bend and you’ll find virtually the same thing.
Finally, always barter in good spirit and keep it fun. If you don’t like the price of something or change your mind just say thank you and walk away. Once you have agreed on a price though, you’re stuck. Moroccans are pretty intense when it comes to money. We got into a super uncomfortable argument with our taxi driver on our second day in town. Even when we went shopping for the cooking class our guide and the shop owner got into a tiff over pricing.
We didn’t get as good of a deal as some other people, but that isn’t really what we were there for. I wanted to experience shopping in the souks and Pete wanted to try his hand at bartering. Remember too, that you’re most likely more wealthy than any of the men you come across so it doesn’t hurt to overpay just a little bit.
I went in thinking I wanted a lamp, a rug, and a pouf. I left with only one of those things and a bunch of other stuff I didn’t know I wanted. Isn’t that how shopping always works? I swear I go into Target for toothpaste and leave about $342 dollars poorer.
Super cute burlap tassel bags – we paid 200 dirhams for both (1 USD converts to about 10 Dirhams at the time of our travel). A bit overpriced- I’ve seen others say they got them for 30 Dirhams each, but that’s okay. I’m using them as bag organizers for my purse! Since any woman can attest that purses are most likely an endless pit full of things you forgot you had. You’ll see these bags literally everywhere in various patterns and colors. You can also easily find larger burlap or wicker bags.
Cute bowls we are going to use for tiny snack or
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This is actually a haram towel, but I plan to use it as a thick scarf in the winter. It is supposedly handmade and appears to be great quality. I think we paid maybe 100 Dirhams for it. We got it as an add-on from the same shop we purchased the blue pouf below from.
I love this pouf – I wanted a round cloth one and I tend to gravitate towards blues so this fit the bill perfectly. There was about an inch of fabric near the zipper that was torn apart from the seam.
We asked for a discount but the shop owner actually took it to another shop and fixed it for us. We paid 120 Dirhams for the pouf. Which we thought was a fantastic deal. I was browsing Wayfair the other day and saw poufs going for hundreds of dollars!
This leather pouf is Pete’s – it is a bit larger and more squatty than mine is. I think it is more comfortable than mine because of the larger surface area. If we were back in Morocco I would probably get a couple more like this, instead of mine.
The shop owner wanted 750 and we paid about 350 for it. The poufs will come unfilled and easily packable into suitcases. Once you’re back home you can fill them with whatever you want. We found that old t-shirts or towels work the best. I had gone out and bought a bunch of that cotton batting that’s in pillows and things, but it didn’t have enough support for the poufs.
I like to buy paintings from places I travel and I was keeping my eyes out for one that I liked. This shop was very close to the riad and this painting kept catching my eye.
This was the first thing we bought and actually picked it up on our second night in town. We definitely overpaid for it, but we hadn’t bartered with anyone by that point and were totally clueless. And the shop owner knew I really wanted it (try to keep that a secret). He wanted 800 Dirhams and we walked away paying about 550 Dirhams.
Stuffed camel- I think I paid a couple dollars for it, but I don’t remember exactly. I like to find Izzie stuffed toys from my places of travel and thought the camel was perfect.
After you’ve either had enough or run out of money head over to Cafe Argana for a juice or coffee and relax on the balcony while you people watch the square. We ended up watching some men trying to hock fake watches to people and a couple kids who were trying to figure out a way to put both of themselves onto one very tiny bike.
Afterward, head back to the riad for a bit and shower/change/relax/hangout for a while before going back out for dinner.
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Once you’re ready to have dinner head out on a bit of a long walk to Cafe Clock. Before traveling to Morocco we kept saying we wanted to eat a camel. We assumed it would be like cows and thought they would be on menus everywhere. They are not. After a little search on Yelp
Cafe Clock is a pretty cute restaurant with an interior area and then a large seating area on the rooftop. We, of course, went to the top. The cafe is a bit of modern and isn’t the “Moroccan style” we were used to. They had normal sized tables though so that’s a win in their book.
We also knew from reading Y
The shake was incredible and I still have dreams about it. I’ve thought about trying to make one at home, but with the price of almonds, it would be a wildly expensive drink. The burger was just meh. The fries were just meh. It is a fast food restaurant so one can’t expect too much.
I’m glad I tried it, but I don’t think I would seek out the restaurant or the meal again.
The camel was quite dry and like you’d expect pretty gamey. I was unable to finish the burger and as I’m typing this I’m starting to feel a bit nauseous, haha. My recommendation is- go to Cafe Clock and order almond milkshakes for everyone, but split a camel burger.
Head back to the riad and get everything packed up. It’ll be an early morning ride out to the desert.
Related: Riding camels in the Sahara!
The walk back home takes you along this road – I dubbed it taxi-way as it is obviously jam packed full of taxis. It was my least favorite road to walk on, but it is the most direct.
The drivers were so bizarre, too. They would stop at some point along the road – like the one above and then push the car closer to the one in front. I mean, I think the car has brakes? If not that makes for a horrifying realization next time you take a Moroccan taxi.
You also have to walk through this…good luck. You’ll notice vendors strategically place their goods close to the walking path, don’t accidentally step on something or you’ll have bought yourself a grossly overpriced item from Asia. Also, don’t buy an iPhone from the kid with 6 of them in his hands.
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Founder of Packing for Plenty in July 2017. Along with her husband, Pete, she is on a mission to visit most countries. And wants to take y’all along as well! On PFP Steff provides travel itineraries ranging from a weekend trip nearby to 2 weeks living abroad like a local…detailed destination specific travel tips that aren’t readily available elsewhere…and unique and interesting bucket list worthy experiences.