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Marrakech with a Family
Marrakech with kids, an exciting, historic city to introduce children to a different culture!
Spending enough time in Marrakech to really get to know the place is highly recommended. We were there for 12 days with an 11-year-old and 9-year-old. It may seem a long time to be in a city with kids, but it included a 3 day High Atlas and the Sahara Desert Tour too.
Accommodation in Marrakech
Accommodation can be a hit or miss affair anywhere in the world and I had pre-booked the first two nights through Air BNB. Usually, it is a positive experience with Air BNB Hosts, but on this occasion, we were not given the lovely, sun-filled room that was booked – instead, the owners of Riad Rockech put us in a cold, dirty, windowless room.
A quick exit the next morning, with no refund or apologies, and we went in search of something better. It was lucky we only had carry on backpacks, we wandered through the main square of Djemaa el-Fna for some time before coming upon a tiny alleyway right off the square with many small hotels. Hotel Atlas was our choice, clean and friendly. With a great sun deck area!
Air BnB… we love you.. we love you not. But mostly, we love using Air Bnb.
What to do in Marrakech
The wailing of the call to prayer and hum from the square were a constant in the background and made us feel a part of the city.
Djemma el-Fina is a magic place full of everything weird and wonderful that Marrakech can throw at visitors. Monkey men, as the girls called them, were quick to put a little Barbary Macaque on the shoulders of passers-by and then make a request for money in return for the experience and photos. Fair enough, this is their way of making an income, though the process of these native animals from the Atlas Mountains being captive on chains and used in this way is unsettling. The same goes for similar scenarios the world over.
Henna tattoo ladies are everywhere, some using a mixture of henna and a chemical that can irritate the skin and not stay on for long. The ladies sitting in the market area are, perhaps, the more trustworthy. If local women are to be seen having a henna tattoo applied, this would be the place for anyone keen to have one too. We were approached by a lady on our first morning there who said ‘because I like you’ to my youngest daughter… and quickly began a tattoo on her hand, proceeding then to my other daughter. She was quite miffed at the measly offering of coins that I had available and became quite irate – the outcome was that we walked away from the lady who was demanding about 10 Euros each! The ‘henna’ was not pure, resulted in a little itching and faded within a day or so!
Exploring the Souks and laneways.
The girls became very relaxed with the daily explorations and haggling in the souks and laneways of the Medina ( A medina is a section found in many North African cities, typically walled with narrow, maze-like laneways. The word simply means city or town in modern-day Arabic.)
Each day involved finding a new ‘favorite’ cafe or street stall to try and the girls became accustomed to the habitual haggling and ‘pestering’ of shopkeepers keen to sell anything we cast a glance at. It is such a different experience to wandering the shopping malls of Australia, looking is regarded as a serious intent to buy. Asking the price of an item will almost always result in an expectation to haggle and purchase.
One thing I always do when traveling is to buy from street sellers. This may be a little horse made from reeds, friendship bands or some other little items. Share the wealth! We are incredibly wealthy compared to many people around the world and to buy a little item from locals, no matter how simple it may be, is sharing and caring! If it helps a family survive, do it. I always feel sad when I see people shrugging off a seller in an off-handed way.
Admittedly, it can be a source of annoyance to be constantly badgered to buy, but sometimes we need to swap shoes for a moment and look at it a little differently? Even kids who ‘helped’ tourists on stepping-stones across a river can do with a coin or two?
We bought a few items to take back as mementos and gifts. One was a particular rip off, and worth being careful of! A lovely wooden spoon made from olive wood. The shape and grain of the wood were appealing until it was used in a soup pot back in the UK and the wood split. That would have been ok, except the product they filled the knots of the wood with was not suitable for food purposes and it became a slimy mess! Rather funny, in an odd way, to see the spoon that was made for such purposes, melt and crack!
Win some, lose some. That is the fun of travel I guess!
Street Foods of Marrakech
We loved buying food from street vendors. Fresh squeezed orange juice was a hit every morning. The famous snail soup could be bought from a lot of sellers and we loved the sweet cookies and pastries. Fried, filled bread to enjoy as we walked was also a firm favorite.
‘Lolly Pop Man’ as we called him, was great though! We were walking near the mosque and started following him, trying to decide if it was an umbrella that he was carrying, wrapped in a plastic film…
It was a giant lollipop! A few coins later and we each had a small piece of the taffy-like sweetie in a wrapper and everyone was smiling. these are the experiences that you take away with you when traveling and that can bring back such fond memories.
Is Marrakech safe for Travelling with Children?
Yes, We believe so. Like any big city or foreign country, caution needs to be taken and risks assessed. We really had no concerns and welcomed the complete change of lifestyle in Morrocco.
Marrakech is definitely a fabulous place to travel with kids. Let them experience the food, the people and the life of the markets and souks. Give them (and yourself) time to soak up the atmosphere and feel relaxed here.
We visited in the winter. Return fares from London were about $100 Au, accommodation cost us about $30 a night, with en-suite and at times we ate for as little a few dollars for the three of us.
Booking.com is one of the best ways to find good, secure accommodation.
Daytime temperatures were around 20 degrees in February and we were free from the busy holiday crowds. Bliss.