What to do in Morocco without breaking the bank?
November 9, 2007 9:37 AM   Subscribe

3 weeks in Morocco on a budget. Help me make the most of my annual vacation! I work full-time and I'm finishing my MLIS this month. My 23rd birthday is at the end of the month, and I've got three weeks to spend in Morocco and surrounding areas, but not very much money saved up.

Leaving from California on Thanksgiving, returning mid-December, and I'm flying into/out of Marrakech. Travelling solo (single Jewish chick) but I'll be meeting up with my darker-complexioned gay male friend at some point and splitting accommodations. I've got around $600 saved up, and I'm hoping to some how accrue a bit more, either in savings or graduation/birthday gift money, before I leave. The original plan was to travel north and take a ferry into Spain, but I'm not sure if I'll have enough for all of the related transportation expenses at this point. I really don't want to stay in a hostel and I'll have luggage (not so into backpacking), so I'm hoping we can get some sort of decent private room. I want to try to stay within a budget, but I really have rather expensive taste.

I'd appreciate any suggested itineraries, logistical advice, suggestions on what to pack/wear/buy and advice on things to do in/around Marrakech on a budget. I'd like to visit libraries and museums, take a trip into the desert, and take a lot of photographs. I'm also a bit of a foodie (but vegetarian) so suggestions on that front would also be appreciated. For example, I'd love to take a cooking class, but my up-in-the-air plans and limited budget might make that difficult. Thanks for the help!
posted by booknerd to Travel & Transportation around Morocco (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I used to live there...too much to say but you can email me webmaster at kenzi dot com.
posted by kenzi23 at 11:13 AM on November 9, 2007

I'm a vegetarian, and I had no problem finding vegetarian dishes when I visited Marrakech. But here's the thing. Realize that while you'll be able to find vegetarian food, the culture is not vegetarian-conscious the way America is. Moroccans are extraordinarily outgoing and happy to help, but you need to be clear about what you want. This means: Don't just ask if something's "vegetarian." Even Americans are confused by that word, let alone Morrocans. Ask if it has "viande" (meat), "poisson" (fish), or whatever specific food you're wondering about.

Oh, and please don't be the arrogant American who goes there and expects them to answers your questions in English about your dietary needs. The burden is on you to learn how to ask in French whether certain dishes are vegetarian. (This applies whether or not you already speak French--you didn't specify.)

You don't need to stay in a hostel. This is Africa--it's not expensive. I went with a group of college students and we found a luxury hotel that was within everyone's budgets.

Marrakech is very conducive to taking arty color photos of random stuff you see while walking around the city. Just be willing to experiment.

Other miscellaneous tips:

- Establishments with public restrooms don't feel the need to keep toilet paper stocked. Always keep a spare roll with you.

- At some point, one of you is going to say, "Hey, let's go to Casablanca!" Don't. If you want to be able to say you went somewhere with a famous name (which is the only reason people go there), just lie and tell people you went to Casablanca.
posted by Jaltcoh at 12:48 PM on November 9, 2007

My experience in Marrakesh — in fact, in Morocco in general — was that the cheaper food was usually better and more interesting. I had some of the best meals I had there off the side of a cart in the street. (And for reference, I don't tend to feel that way about, say, American food. I'll take a white-tablecloth dinner over the best damn hot dog in the world any day.)
posted by nebulawindphone at 5:43 PM on November 9, 2007

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