I had dreamed of this moment: saturating my senses in the smells, colors, textures and textiles of this ancient city. I wanted to soften and just be flooded with beauty. That’s how it was in my mind. It’s easy to over-romanticize a place and then deal with the chaotic reality of our expectations when we arrive.
Tip 1: Check your cellphone plan
We got hit with $1500 in unexpected charges and we have the best international plan. After 18 countries in the last 15 months, this is the first country to sneak up on us with charges. There is no major carrier that covers Morocco from the States, so you’ll need your hotel to have great wifi for calls, checking emails and any type of communication. Most cafes also have wifi if you need to check in. You need to be able to use your cellphone map to navigate. Your phone, even without Wi-Fi, will show you where you are on the map. It becomes a lifesaver in the medina. It is almost impossible to make your way around the winding tiny streets without it.
Tip 2: Airport pickup
Get your hotel to pick you up from the airport! Arrange this in advance. Don’t ask. Trust me on this one. I tend to wing it. Bad idea.
Tip 3: Vegan Food + Rooftop Cafes
We found some great vegan options in the main square. Here are a few of my favorites for great food and good drinks: Salama (soup, sampler plate, and half price drinks), Zeitoun Cafe (vegan tajine, lentils, quinoa salad), Kasbah Cafen (hummus, avocado toast, eggplant salad), and Clock Cafe (lots of plant-based options). I found others that are always recommended online, but they had super weird vibes.
Tip 4: Stay in the Medina
I always say it, where you stay shapes your experience, especially here. I tried several riads including La Sultana and we loved them. Read the comment section on the hotel apps. Look for strong wifi, quiet, good AC, larger rooms and rooftop patios. I have a thing for rooftops.
Tip 5: Cactus Silk Pillows, Hand-loomed in Morocco
I love pillows, color and beautiful home spaces. Many shops offer gorgeous pillow covers made from cactus silk, sometimes called Sabra Silk, a great cruelty-free alternative. It is a gorgeous fabric made from the Aloe Vera Cactus, part of the Agave family and grown in the Saharan Desert. There are large box cushions
Tip 6: Negotiating: Keep it Cool
There are few true bargains left. These savvy sellers have global connectivity, but you can still find deals. Whatever initial price is offered, bargain so you end up a little below half, sometimes lower. Prices can jump all over the place for the same items. When negotiating, keep it positive, even if it seems confrontational, it usually isn’t, so play it cool. Find a fair price that works for everyone.
Tip 7: Late Nights!
Take a tuk tuk, found in the main square, to the new town or around the medina at night, when the stalls are closed. It’s turns into quite the adventure, for under $5. I always recommend taking one back to your hotel after 10pm, especially for women.
Tip 8: Buy Fresh Juice
A must try. Orange juice and sugar cane are my favs. They also juice it with lemon and ginger; heaven! Look for street vendors with large pieces of sugar cane on their cart or a metal hand press for oranges. Make sure they squeeze it in front of you and not behind a counter. That will most likely be mixed with water and sugar.