Travel

Mystical Marrakech: Top tips for tackling the souks of Marrakech

Ananyah- Marrakech Souk- Koutoubia Mosque

A mystical labyrinth in the heart of Marrakech, the Souks of Medina are a sensory explosion. From bric-à-brac to freshly ground spices, this is one location you don’t want to miss.

Before jetting off to Marrakech, I knew that I couldn’t resist a spot of shopping while I was in the city. I mean, where better than in the blazing sun, in a souk, bargaining for your purchases.

I mentally drew up a list of things I wanted to get my hands on; some beautiful crockery, fresh spices for cooking with back home, kaftans and some good quality sweets that I’ve been missing so much. Would I succeed?  

Ananyah- Marrakech Souk- Alley

With 1000 MAD (approx £65) tucked away in my handbag, I found myself in Jemaa El-Fnaa, right in the middle of the hustle and bustle of Marrakech. The square was swarming with people- tourists and locals alike.

By day, Jemaa El-Fnaa is full of vendors with dancing monkeys in t-shirts and diapers, snake charmers and women offering you henna. My advice? Steer clear of them. By night, it transforms into a vibrant street food market. Sadly, I didn’t get to visit the square at night but it is a place I definitely need to go back again to experience in all its glory.

Heading to Marrakech soon? Nervous about going to the souks for the first time? Here are my top tips for tackling the souks of Marrakech which will make you a pro in no time! 

The souks are crazy!

Keep your wits about you. As I said above, it’s a sensory overload. From the intense smell of petrol, dodging motorbikes whizzing past you, men with fruit carts and mules making their way through the maze of the souk to the sound of stall holders shouting at each other, it can be overwhelming. People will barge past you to get to their destination. They aren’t being rude, it’s just the way of life.

Ananyah- Marrakech Souk- Koutoubia Mosque

Can you afford it?

If you see something you like, think about what maximum price you are willing to pay before asking how much it is. Once you have a figure in your head, ask, then haggle like your life depends on it. If you’re told the item is 100 MAD, divide it in half and start from there. I got a lot of great purchases using this calculation. Of course, this only works on items that do not have a set price. Although, when I spotted an amazing tea-cup set for 20 MAD and I only had 12 left, they gave me it. Happy bunny. Bartering is all about luck. Just keep at it and you’ll find your mojo.

Bad at maths like me?

Download a currency converter app onto your phone. I used Currency Converter Plus to quickly convert between MAD and Pounds. It was a lifesaver all over Marrakech and as it’s a free app within the AppStore, I would highly recommend you all download it no matter where you are travelling to. I know I’m going to use it when I jet off to Germany at the end of the month. 

Be prepared to walk away

Say what? You want to shop, yes, but sometimes walking away from a purchase right in front of you will work out to be the best move you’ve made. If you keep the points above in your head, it will all make sense. Say you’ve found a stall selling amazing crockery but the price is a little steep, you’ve tried bartering like your life depended on it and the owner still will not budge, walk away. The outcome will be one of two things, the owner will chase after you and agree to the price you want to pay or another stall a few doors down will have a similar piece (if not the exact same) for sale, potentially at a lower price. If all else fails, go back to the original stall again if you really want the item.

Ananyah- Marrakech Souk- Spices

Think before you buy

That’s rich coming from someone like me but you are in a foreign country. That means you have to take a plane back home (unless you are on some insane road trip!). You can get carried away in the souk but you have to think sensibly. Can it fit in your suit case? How heavy is it? Will it get damaged?

I bought a rather large pouf, bowls, plates, kaftans, delicate tea glasses, spices and rose buds. Luckily, my case was under the max weight when I arrived to Marrakech. I made sure that I wrapped all the breakable items in clothes a good few times and then stuffed them within the pouf. Extra padding to ensure my money wasn’t wasted.

In all honesty, I wasn’t sure if everything would fit within my suitcase, but I was lucky. Make sure you have enough room before you buy and if all else fails, purchase a bigger bag for your hand luggage! 

Ananyah- Marrakech Souk- Bathtub

Ananyah- Marrakech Souk- Rose Buds

These top tips for tackling the souks of Marrakech will ensure you are a master of the souks in no time. Don’t be intimidated in your surroundings.. Enjoy yourself and soak up the atmosphere around you. It is an unforgettable experience. 

Have you ever been to Marrakech? Hit up the sinks? What did you buy? What are your own top tips? Let me know in the comments below!

Events Food and Drink

Good Food Glasgow

#GoodFoodGlasgow

Street food from around the world will come to Glasgow city centre throughout April and May with Good Food Glasgow

This street food event will take place each Saturday in the Merchant City’s Brunswick Street for six weeks from 16 April and on each Friday in the Broomielaw for six weeks from 22 April.

Colourful street food vehicles from operators in central Scotland will offer everything from burgers, curries, American baking and gourmet sausage rolls to shellfish, fried chicken and vegan baking between 12am – 7pm to bring a taste of the exotic to the streets of Glasgow.

Other culinary delights at Good Food Glasgow include Indian, Korean, Mexican and Scottish street food, as well as home baking, seafood, ice cream, crepes and gluten & dairy-free food.

It’s quite frankly, about time Glasgow had a  street food market and I for one truly welcome this new initiative. We can say goodbye to dodgy burger vans and hello to gourmet trucks providing good quality, healthy food on par with places such as Edinburgh, Manchester and London.

Last summer, Glasgow City Council published a survey asking the people of Glasgow if they wanted to see a dedicated street food area come to the city. After over 2000 responses, Good Food Glasgow has been established in partnership with Scottish Enterprise, City Markets (Glasgow) and the Community Food Fund.

As this is the first of its kind in the city, to begin with, 12 trucks will operate from Brunswick St and 14 at the Broomielaw, and if successful, street food events such as this will return regularly.

Hopefully this will be the beginning of a permanent fixture in the city. There is a demand after all. Now all that is left is to find out what trucks will be appearing and grab my cutlery!

Hungry anyone? Do you welcome this new fixture to the Glasgow dining scene? Do you have a favourite Scottish food truck? Will you be checking it out? Let me know in the comments below!

Recipes

Mojo Marinated Rib Eye Steak and King Prawns

LanzaroteCookOff- Gambas in Mojo Rojo on Lava Rock

I remember the first time I ever cooked meat on a hot stone, it was at Jimmy’s Bulgogi Barbecue in Singapore, circa 1992. You picked what meat and vegetables you wanted, paid, then went back to your table to start cooking your picks. So much fun! 

More recently and closer to home, you can enjoy a Dolsot Bibimbap at Kimchi Cult in the West End of Glasgow. What is this you say? A dolsot is a stone bowl which is heated until extremely hot and then your bibimbap (mixed rice) ingredients are popped in alongside a raw egg which is then cooked against the sides of the bowl. Not as fun as cooking a big bowl of meat on your own little individual barbecue, but equally as delicious. On the subject of Kimchi Cult, the Ox Cheek Bulgogi is literally one of the best things in the city at the moment. 

When Thomas Cook Airlines contacted me to ask if I wanted to take part in a #LanzaroteCookOff cooking competition (alongside other bloggers) whereby I have to cook a traditional dish from Lanzarote using a lava stone, I was naturally up for the challenge (and not just because I’m rather competitive!). Little did I realise, it would being back all those childhood memories from back in the day. The prize? An all-inclusive holiday for two to Lanzarote. A place that has always been on my “must visit” list but have yet had the chance to visit. 

LanzaroteCookOff- Lava Rock

Food in this jewel of an island within the Mediterranean is taken rather seriously and it is no wonder with the rich fresh ingredients at their door. From fresh seafood to vegetables grown in black volcanic soil, the natural larder is full of goodness. Grilling seafood as well as steak on hot lava rocks not only makes the food taste great, but is much healthier than frying too due to the lack of oil. 

& I was about to put it to the test.

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