All you need to know about Morocco | Čo potrebujete vedieť o návšteve Maroka



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Airplane praying, street chaos and smelly Fridays

Morocco has everything for a tourist. One day, you can climb mountains, and surf in the ocean on the other. Desire for an unusual experience? Sahara. History? Medinas. Modern architecture? Casablanca. Camels, turtles, donkeys, ostriches... It's a lifetime experience to visit Morocco.
Moroccan airports (especially in Marrakesh, Fez and Rabat) are the first nice surprises that you see at the arrival. And you will have enough time to observe it while waiting in line. On the arrival and departure of the country, you must fill a form about where you'll stay and what you'll do. Don't forget to take a pen with you, there's none at airport.

Prepare for questions at customs, which usually mean an acknowledgement of the already written facts, but sometimes, it can be time-consuming ("You've been to Turkey. Haven't you been to Syria, too?" "No." "But you're a journalist, are you sure?" "Yes.") 
At the Moroccan airports, security checks are done right at the entrance; for that reason, you can take water to an airplane.
Flying through Morocco is possible thanks to AirArabia, and to be honest, this company's conditions were chaotic. First, they told us to keep our small bags (only women), later, they forced us to put it into luggage. Prayer concluding pilot's speech which began as "Allah Akbar, Allah Akbar, Allah Akbar..." surprised us the most.

Transport from airports is usually provided by taxis. In some cities, it's good to negotiate the prize, in others it's already set. Another reliable service can be paid through rideways. Then, your only task is to find your name on drivers' signs outside.

For traveling single or as a pair, it's cheaper to use public transport. We travelled by CTM's buses. You can also find their schedule on the internet (in French). 
There are two types of Taxis in Morocco -  petit taxi in the area of a city and grande taxi, that can drive you pretty much anywhere if you fill a whole car (taxi collectivo) - 6 places - or if you pay for vacant seats. That way, the price tends to be higher, although it's possible to negotiate it.

You can change money for Moroccan dirham at an airport with good currency, and in the case you'll not spend everything, they will change it back. But - the rate will be lower, so it's better to change only the amount you are expecting to spend.

Generally, accommodation in Morocco is cheap, so you can sleep in a "palace" like in One Thousand and One Night. However, don't get fooled by nice photos, read reviews too. Moroccan houses are built to keep cool inside, therefore don't forget long sleeve pyjamas and warm clothes.

Speaking of clothing, it's no surprise to meet locals in winter clothes and shoes in the middle of May and seeing local girls strolling through streets in pyjamas and nightrobes. Women, an advice to you is -  dress less revealing not to attract unwanted (and annoying) attention from men. 

We tried. Unsuccesfully :D
As tourists, be prepared for attention anyway. Locals will speak to you any chance they get, to allure you to their shop or restaurant or to tell you about Moroccan history (for example). "Welcome" and "Merhaba" will become your new soundtrack. I believe in their sincere motives, but be aware as well. They have mastered speech so precisely to make you buy - pretty much anything.
On the other side, Moroccan (older) women won't tell you much - even if you ask for directions, they will politely refuse to speak and walk away.

In big cities, and unofficial guides (local boys) are everywhere in case you get lost in Medina (which is pretty unavoidable thanks to the absence of navigation in those tiny streets). They're reliable, but don't expect them to do it for free.
Even though it can be difficult, after some time, you will be able to manage the right direction for sure. You just should be attentive to every little sign, make a photo every time you turn left of right. Little things are important - it can be a poster or a shop with green chairs that will lead you home through those very similar brown streets. 
Some young Moroccans speak at least a little bit English, French or Spanish in northern regions are more useful (in case you don't speak Arabic).

In cities, you'll witness shopping madness being an essential part of everyday's Moroccan life. Be ready for price negotiating, stay stiff and don't get influenced by all that amount of goods everywhere. Won't you let your shoes polish or weigh yourself on a street for 50 cents?
In restaurants (often street stalls or terraces), you'll be able to eat tasty and cheap. I recommend trying soup hariratajine and fresh fruit juices.

Visiting Morocco means, that your trip will be influenced by local culture. For example, I recommend planning a trip out of a city on Friday - it's the day of prayers - everything  (including medressas) is closed. Nor even dustmen work, that's why the streets are full of garbage which can only be loaded by earthmover in the evening (look at this video).
Another, still surviving tradition says that you should share your meal when eating on a public place (in park or in a bus...) in case you don't want to be scowled at. I warned you!

© I.V.

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