Actually, it is not that difficult to get lost, particularly in the old part of town (Medina). Just to give you a bit of context, the Medina of Marrakech is big, around 4 kilometers in diameter in places. It can also be very confusing, with winding covered streets, narrow dead-end alleys, and hundreds of dusty side streets only mopeds and donkeys can navigate.
The Souk (open-air market) on of the big draws of the city is located in the Medina as well and while we were haggling away for touristy trinkets we lost sight of where we were heading and could not tell anymore the way to Jamaa el Fna, our main point of reference for finding back the hotel. After what felt like 20 minutes circling, we decided to ask the help of a few children running around. Of course, we had to provide a bit of financial incentives for our new found “guides” but finally we made our way back to the main square just as the dinner stalls were setting up.
Because I mentioned the dinner stalls, even if not up to the European standards of food preparation, I still enjoyed the tajine and couscous eaten at the food stalls in Jamaa el Fna and did not encounter any stomach upsets thereafter. Some plastic cutlery might have been handy though to replace the metal and decidedly not sufficiently washed ones that you get from the vendors.
If market stalls aren’t your thing, I recommend two restaurants that will give you a flavor of both local and more modern Moroccan kitchen: (1) La Table Al Badia at Riad Al Badia – everything looked amazing so we ordered both a selection of local starters and main dish. Of course half of the main dish was left uneaten. (2) Souk Cafe – great vegetarian food and a rooftop terrace overlooking …well..the Souk.
Depending on how many days you have in Marrakech and if you are a driven traveller with a check-list (a bit like me that is) and good footwear, you could probably do the tour of the main sites in about three days. This is what we crammed in our long week-end in Marrakech : the Medina and Jemaa el Fna market, Bahia palace (great mosaics), El Badi palace (only the ruins are left but you get a nice view of the Atlas with a clear sky), admiring the Koutoubia and Kasbah Mosques, the Souk, Jardin Majorelle (a bit outside the Medina) and a traditional hammam (steam bath) ritual. It is doable but requires a bit of planning.
I loved the cool atmosphere in Jardin Majorelle, particularly in a hot day (two photos above).
Din not have time tough to go to the desert or go trekking in the Atlas. Hopefully I will go back one day and discover more of this region.