Recently named the world’s best destination – yet I’m still trying to figure out why.
I spent some time in Marrakech about a month ago but haven’t really written much about it. During my stay I was struck down with severe food poisoning for the first time in my life. I’ve had a mild case before, but this was something else: 10 hours of hardcore vomiting, delirious and generally festering about in my own filth. (At one point I was writhing about in my boxers and the owner of the riad was lying beside me in bed stroking my head and speaking Arabic. It was an utterly surreal situation.) If someone asks you if you’ve had food poisoning and your reply is “I’m not sure,” then believe me, you haven’t had it. You’ll know 100% when it hits as you’ll be lying face down on the ground begging for mercy.
Anyway, I didn’t wanna write too much about the city during that time as I was generally feeling like crap and felt anything I wrote would be unfairly influenced by that. Now that the dust has settled though, I still look back on my time in Marrakech as kinda ‘meh’. This isn’t because of the food poisoning, as that can happen anywhere, but because of the city itself.
Marrakech has become a victim of its own success.
In recent years Marrakech has seen an insane boom in popularity. Back in March, it was actually voted the world’s best destination by TripAdvisor. The result is a city that relies heavily of tourism, yet doesn’t actually seem to give a shit about the tourists themselves. Tourists = money. That’s it. If you visit Marrakech you will not be seen as a person but as a walking wallet. During my stay I could not walk ten metres without someone hassling me to buy weed or some horrible trinket. It got so bad that I had to put my sunglasses on, my headphones in, just walk straight and ignore everyone. And what kind of way is that to get to know a city? When you have to ignore absolutely everybody because all they want is your money.
I understand that Morocco is a poor country, and that those who visit are privileged enough to be able to do so. But that does not mean that you should feel obliged to hand out money left right and centre to people just because they expect it. If you need directions, people demand money. If you stop to even look for a split second at someone they will approach you and ask you where you are going and what you are doing.
When I told some dick I didn’t want to buy a wooden camel off him he called me a racist, and a very bad man, and that I should go to hell. All I said was “No, thank you” to him when he shoved the camel in my face. I was tempted to shove it up his ass.
There’s a definite ‘you versus us’ mentality in Marrakech. It surely can’t be just me that has felt this in the city. I don’t want to go full-on out there and say that the sentiment is anti-western, but there really is a distinctly odd vibe around the place. I found if I did try to smile at people they just stared at me. The souks are fun for about ten minutes, and the ‘cultural’ displays such as the snake charmers in the square just feel forced. I’m in the minority of course. Thousands, if not millions, love Marrakech. But that’s the interesting thing about travel – while one person doesn’t think much of a place, another will absolutely love it. My lasting impression of Marrakech, however, is that it is driven by money and nothing else. But hey, at least I got some nice pics.
One of the few places that didn’t live up to expectations for me, mainly due to the reasons you mention.
The photos are great. Your article puts me off the place with or without food poisoning. I kind of assumed it would be like that and so I always avoided this place. I’ll judge it myself when I go of course. I hate people that constantly try to sell you stuff and follow you and I don’t buy the whole “it’s their country – respect it” thing. If they respect that I am a tourist just wanting to walk around, then I will respect them. If they’re hell bent on trying to sell me stuff or annoy me. I’ve already respected them enough by spending time and money in their city. Did you visit other parts of Morocco and find the same? My cousin and girlfriend agree with you about Marrakesh. Safe travels. Jonny
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I could not agree more. I had the WORST time ever during my holiday in Marrakech! It was so bad that I had to cut my vacation short and return to England earlier.
I have been harassed at every step, stared at, physically and verbally abused by locals (mostly men) who tried to touch me and made sexually filthy comments etc.
The place reeks of filth, infestation and hideous poverty. The air in the walled Medina (Old Town) is unbreathable, poisoned by toxic fumes from the incessant number of mopeds running from all directions.
There is NOTHING pretty or worth seeing or visiting.
For the life of me, I cannot understand how tourist brochures can promote such an awful God forsaken place!
Yup – I will never go back!