Important tipps for travellers

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Important contacts | Orientation | LanguageTimeSafety | Best time to travel Photography and MoviesIslamDressTravel preparationArrival at the airportMoney exchangeCustoms regulationsLuggage – GiveawaysHealthSwimmingTelephonePublic transport | Electricity and plugEating and drinking | Drugs and AlcoholHolidays-RamadanWomen (right)sShoppingFor driversGetting thereCheap flightsPreparationMoviesLiterature



Some important basic information about Morocco – to the best of our knowledge but without guarantee.

Welcome form: “Salam aleikum”, answer “Aleikum salam” (peace be with you). The greeting ends with the hand to the heart and then opening it towards the one whom you are  greeting and looking into his eyes. It is in the truest sense a greeting from the “heart”. It is considered rude to start a conversation directls with a special concern. Almost mantra-like at the beginning of each conversation one asks  the questions about health and family that are always answered positively. (Lebes, Becher)

Important contacts

My Moroccan mobilenummer is: 00212-669556445. Please note that we can communicate in an emergency!!!

Address of my Riad: Riad Michel, Derb el Cadi 134, Qurtier Azbezt, Marrakech Medina. The phone number of the riad is: 00212 524 38 98 76.

The mobile number of Lucien, our managing director in the Riad: 00212 634746405

German Embassy in Rabat: Address: 7 Zankat Madnine, Rabat 10000, Morocco, Phone: +212 5372-18600

Current information e.g. For health and safety at: www.auswaertiges-amt.de

My Homeopage (as well in english): www.marokko-hautnah.de

Orientation

The free app “Here” works very well in Marrakesh and the big cities. Download it before the trip to your Mobile phone as well as the free map “Morocco” (sub-menu of Africa). This app works With GPS, so without roaming, without Simcard !!

Language

The official language is Arabic, but since Mohammed VI the main Berber language, the Tamazigh, has also been admitted and is taught at the schools. The best thing to do is to go through the country with French, which is almost everywhere spoken. The Moroccans are language geniuses and many can also speak some English or Spanish. In the case of emergency cou get along with english in the tourist areas.

Time

Morocco is one hour behind Central European time. This also applies in summertimte as in Europe. However, the suks and many shops do not follow the summer time and so it may be that if you have an appointment in the summer with someone you will wait an hour, as the Moroccan people have not integrated the switch to summer time into their life rhythm. Schools, officestand transport of course, follow the official time. So you should always make sure which time is ment.

Safety

Morocco is a safe country in which there are no Taliban, Salafist or IS fighters.  In the ranking in the Global Terrorism Index it ranks with Switzerlandon one level and is considered one of the safest countries in the world. (http://economicsandpeace.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Global-Terrorism-Index-2015.pdf). This all depends with the history and tradition and the monarchy. Thus the young king Mohammed VI has anticipated the Arabian spring already 1999 with far-reaching reforms in the country (women’s rights, strengthening the powers of Parliament Etc.) He represents a very tolerant Islam. Very interesting background information: (http://www.deutschlandfunk.de/terrorbekaempfung-marokko-lehrt-einen-toleranten-islam.799.en.html?dram:article_Id =364224)

In addition, the intelligence service from the times of his father Hassan II works very well and terrorists would Immediately be revealed. From this secret service, however, as a tourist, one must not be afraid and the population has a positive attitude towards it, because it ensures general security and no one who is not malignant has something to fear from the intelligence service. Personally, I consider it safer for me to be in Marrakech then to go for a walk in Berlin or Paris. In addition, the king has introduced  philosophy as a compulsory subject of teaching in scools, because people who are able to use their reason are less vulnerable to extremism.  Theft is no less and no more than in any other European city. Cash and papers should of course be carried on the body and not in the bag.

Best time to travel

In Marrakech and in the interior of the country, it can become extremely hot or cold (over 50 degrees Celsius in summer and below Zero degree in winter). Especially from November to March warm functional clothing is essential. At the Atlantic temperatures are always moderate, in summer hardly over 30 degrees and in winter during the day usually around 20 degrees, but there can be strong winds at the seasisde. Even in the summer, a windjacket in Essaouira is often useful. Between December and in February, rainfall can be raging in Morocco and it can even be raining in the desert. In the High Atlas you can even ski in winter above about  2500 m.  (Oikaimden has several ski lifts and in Ifrane in the north). On the south-east- side of the high Atlas, the sun shines on 320 days a year. The months June to August are absolutely not advisable for Marrakech- and desert trips! In the winter months it can be very cool in the evening in Marrakech, and the hotels are mostly not heatable. In cheap accommodation is used to ad a surcharche for heating or air conditioning.

Photography and Movies

In Islam, it is not permitted to depict human beings or animals, even though nowardays television and the press do not follow this commandment and the Moroccans take pictures with  mobile phones and cameras as much as we on every opportunity. Nevertheless, one should absolutely avoid photographing people, which were not asked expressly for permission.  A “no” is
to accept. In case of a “yes” – and especially in the place of the jugglers, Jemaa el Fnaa – however a good tipping is expected. The unwritten tariff is one euro – but also no more, even if the snake charmers and musicians demand more.
Photographing of mosques inside, military, police and palace guards and dams or power stations is absolutely to be omitted!

Islam

In Morocco, we find a very tolerant Islam, which has notning in common with the Saudi Arabian dogmatic Islam. Non-Muslims nevertheless are not allowed to enter the mosques. Taliban and IS do not exist here. The king, who at the same time is the Caliph and Supreme Imam, represents a more progressive, enlightened Islam, as probably hardly anywhere else in the islamic world.(See: http://www.deutschlandfunk.de/marokko-das-gegenkalifat-des-koenigs). The Islam separates less than all other religions between profane and holy. So is the entire social and public life, the year and the day’s rhythm are influenced by the Islam. The five pillars of Islam are system-stabilizing to the entire social and family life. The believe in Allah and his will and his grace makes part of the daily life of most of the moroccans and at least 100 times a day they say “Inshallah” – If god wants. Even if you fix a date – there can always interfer something unexpected in between. The human thinks, God leads. Five times a day the muezzin calls to prayer. The giving alms is self-evident to the Moroccans. Although the social casts are not very permeable, there will never be a beggar in Morocco starving to death. In small or large amounts: Every Moroccan gives his “zakat”. Ramadan is finally the month of fasting, where the family and friends are in close contact. Public life is coming to a stillstand then and its not good to travel during Ramadan. The fifth pillar of Islam finally, the Hajj, the pilgrimage to the holy places of Islam is optional, but in pilgrimage season it can lead especially at the airports to bottlenecks and you should bring a lot of time!

Dress

I recommend comfortable light shoes, functional clothing (anorak with pull-out inner jacket for trips of November to April), swimwear, flashlight, money belt or breast bag …, For women discreet clothing, airy wrap coats have proven to be suitable.

Travel preparation

Passport (at least 3 months valid) absolutely necessary! Visa is not required.
I advise you to scan the pass and the tickets and save them in an archive in the cloud or your email. So you can quickly get the papers in case of a loss.

Arrival at the airport

I advise you to go to passport control as soon as possible when getting off the plane. Everyone you  pass over will save you 3 minutes waiting time !!! And if the queue  is long you may wait for more than one hour. You will only get the luggage after the passport inspection.

In most cases, you will get an entry card in the airplane, which you should fill out and pass with the check show. You must enter the passport number, date and place, etc. and the purpose of the trip: Tourist. You must also specify an address in Morocco. There you enter: “Riad Michel, Derb el Cadi, Marrakesch” (only if you stay with us)

If you have ordered a transfer, our reliable taxi driver will wait for you just behind the customs area carrying a sheet on which your name is written. He drives you as close as possible to our house and accompanies you to the door. You do not need any Moroccan money. We pay it in the house and reckon later with you when you have exchanged your money.
By bus, which departs directly in front of the airport building, you will arrive at the main square Jemaa El  Fnaa for 5 euros. From there you can also walk to our riad.

Money exchange

Do not change money in the airport (especially inside baggage claim area), very bad rate. Please bring foreign money in cash with you. We can show you at the first evening a place near the place Jamaa el Fnaa where you get the best exchangerate. Otherwise you can also use Master or Visacard at ATMs in the larger cities. Exchange rate is also relatively reasonable (about 10.5-10.9 Moroccan dirham for one euro.) But the best is actually cash. Travelercheques do not work and usually also no Maestrocards or euro cards For ATMs.

Customs regulations

Moroccan dirham may not be entered or exported. Euro amounts in cash over 3000 € must be declared at the customs office. There may be problems with the export of larger amounts of Euros as many Europeans in Morocco earn money in tourism and smuggle it to Europe. Goods worth about 400 euros may be exported and imported into the europea union.

Tip

The Moroccan average wage is approx. 350 Euro. A 3 bedroom appartment in Marrakech costs  about 300 Euros per month. It is easy to understand that the people who work in tourism depend on tip. For small services between 1 Dirham (toilet woman) and 5 Driham (luggage carrier) are expected. In the restaurant give 5-10% tip. You should give at least 30 dirhams to the one who deliveres you a rented car.

Luggage – Giveaways

I strongly advise to light luggage, best a luggage bag, since you may travel and often change from one place to the other.
For the return flight you can buy cheap a suitcase for your purchases. As giveways for local children I recommend pens and sweets (there are bags in which small packaged bags with jellybears Etc. – such I take with me), used mobile phones are always welcome.

Health

Vaccinations are not necessary. Actually, you rarely get sick in Morocco. There is neither malaria, nor bilharz or cholera. Medicines are cheaper than in Europe. I nevertheless advise for the emergency Immodium and Paracetamol to take with you. In the large cities, there are excellent private clinics with a Eruopean standard which howeve is expensive. In this respect, a travel health insurance is recommended. You should drink water only from 0,5 l or  1.5 liters of water bottles that are available for 5-6 Dirham every day everywhere and at any  time. Teethbrushiing and showering with the water from public supply are no problem. The water is usually very chlorinated.

For the prevention of digestive problems, you should be accustomed to eat some Cumin daily, which you find with salt and pepper at the table. Do it like the locals and they will not get sick.

Swimming

In the Mediterranean Sea east of Tangier, the sea is beautifully warm. On the Atlantic coast however rare above 18 degrees. In addition, there is usually high waves and there are dangerous currents. Yet a few days at the Atlantic coast are always a wonderful experience, especially because of the beautiful endless beaches.

Telephone

Telephoning with the European Sim Card is very very expensive! Not recommendable. There is almost everywhere WIFI and via Skype-Out or Viber or WowApp one can communicate cheaply or even for free. It is best to take an old mobile phone and buy a Sim Card in Morocco for 5-10 Euro incl. credit. You can even get free sim cards with a small credit on it at the airport. We recommend Maroc Telecom, because they have the best network.

Public transport

The means of transport are cheap compared to Europe. An excellent comfortable fast bus network (also on the Internet bookable) offered by CTM and Supratours coveres the whole country. By train you can get from Marrakech to Rabat, Casablanca, Tangier and Fez. Busses and Trains should be booked at least one day in advance. Intra-Moroccan air traffic is almost always over the Casablanca airport.

There are two types of taxi: Petit (small) and Grand (big) Taxi. The Petit Taxi takes a maximum of 3 passengers and should have a taximeter, that the taxi drivers unfortunately usually do not switch on. It is therefore advisable always to agree the price before the trip. The grand taxi, mostly old Mercedes or big Dacia, accommodates 6 passengers plus the driver. It is a collective taxi, which has a definite  route and stops on demand. The tariff is a unitary rate (intra-urban) for the entire route mostly 5 Dirham). You need a local expert to get into the right shared Taxi, but transport with it is even cheaper than with the public busses, which also only approx. 0,4 €  nit price, Ticket for public busses are sold by the driver in the bus.

Electricity and plug

Just like in Europe, 220 volts, Chargers etc. with flat plugs fit into all sockets, Adapter not necessary.

Eating and drinking

The Moroccan cuisine works with many mixtures of aromatic spices and herbs, but is by the way mild and not much salted. Only some of the red sauce (Harissa), which you find onthe table in the restaurants is hot.
In gerneral, olives and bread are always served as an welcome.

In every restaurant you can eat vegetarian or even vegan, since the two main dishes, Tajine and Couscous in the base version are meatless. Whoever wants to eat meat chooses between beef, lamb, goat and chicken or fish. The Tajine is available in many different flavors; With lemon and olives or with dried fruit as Tajine Royale.
The favorite dish of the Moroccans is Mechoui, that is Lamb from the clay oven, a real delicacy, best to taste near the Jemaa el Fnaa in a small side street.

Other dishes are pastilla, puff pastry filled with meat or fish (preferably with pigeon). And Tanjia, a kind of goulash cooked in the clay pot, the special meal of Marrakech.
Moroccan salad and many tasty appetizers complete the menu. As a dessert there are usually fruits of the season or orange carpaccio with cinnamon (orange a la cannelle).

The national drink, also called Berberwhisky is the Moroccan tea, a mixture of mint and green tea with lots of sugar.
The breakfast is simple, coffee, tea, bread, jam and butter, often supplemented by croissant, mesmen (Moroccan puff pastry crepes), eggs, Amlu (” Berberutella ” from Argan oil almonds and honey – delicious!) And naturally freshly squeezed orange juice.

Drugs and Alcohol

An important economic factor in Morocco is cannabis cultivation. The locals smoke traditionally discreet and undisturbed hashish. As a foreigner, however, one should not be caught either with consuming or with a purchasing of drugs, because the prisons in Morocco are anything but pleasant!
Alcoholic beverages are only available in a few select tourist places hotels and clubs, but you can buy beer and excellent Moroccan wine in special departments of large supermarkets (Carrefour, Asima etc.). There is even a beer garden in the heart of the new town of Marrakech, Guiliz, exclusively visited by Moroccans where tourists are rarely found. As long as alcohol consumption does not become public, but in private space it is tolerated in the kingdom. However, those who are found drunk on the street are imprisoned.

Holidays-Ramadan

Morocco is Islamic and follows the Islamic calendar as well as the Gregorian calendar. The Islamic year is a lunar year and therefore about 18 days shorter than ours. Therefore, the most important feasts are movable, as well the Ramadan. It is advisable not to travel the country during Ramadan, because at daytime the whole country sinks into complete apathy and lethargy and then in the evening after sunset everyone wakes up and feast the night. The public life then comes almost to a standstill and also many restaurants and suks are closed. Important fixed holidays are 18.11., the day of independence and the 6. of august, the birthday of King Mohammed VI. If you are lucky you can experience a Fantasia, colorful Horse riding games that are no longer common today. Please inform yourself abot the ramadan time: https://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/muslim/ramadan-begins.

Women (right)s

Since the time of Mohammed VI, the women have the right to vote and divorce, and the alphabetisation is also being pursued in the country. At the beginning of 2017, King Mohammed VI issued a Burka ban – very remarkable in an Islamic country. Women of course, are allowed to bike and drive  a car and especially the Berber women go barely veiled. Nevertheless are the women not strongly represented in the public street scene mainly in the villages and in the medina. Their realm is the house. In the new city, however, you can see fashionably dressed long-haired young women as in every European country.In the middle of the city and in the clubs of the rich, women with a European / orienatlish chic are encountered. You should however accept not to talk to a woman on the street, to ask her about the way.

Shopping

Here are some shopping tips :. You can take up to about 400 Euro goods value free of duty with to Europe.

Basics of action

Where tourists are, the trader generally starts to offer a  a price that is double to triple to the realistic price. That is why action is called for. If you have offered a sum, then you can never go back below it and you are  obliged to take the goods if the seller accepts your price-offer! Otherwise unpleasant situations may occur!! Therefore first, start wit a very low offer. If you finally stand up and walk out of the shop and if then the trader runs after you and tells you a  price, you can ou still raise your offer a little bit if you really want the goods.  If he does not accept you can be sure that you are actually under its limit even if he complains – its nothing but show.

I advise you to go to Complex Artisanal on Boulevard Mohammed V on the first day. There you will find pretty much of every handcraft  of  Morocco. And there you will also see how things are produced. The prices there are fixed rates and are 10-20% above the prices, which one gets with good action in the market.  So you get a feeling for these things there.

What to buy

  • Carpets: you should know a lot and I would not buy them in any case immediately. The carpets can also be shipped. You can take them home by plane. This mostly fits the weight without extra charge. The selection is very large.
  • Real Berber Jewelry: I would most likely be in Tamgroute at Tarik (if you go to the desert) and it is not more expensive there than in the market of Marrakech and one thereby promotes the economy in one remote villave. In addition, you can also purchase everything in Essouira.
  • Chiselled things like plates, teapots: best and cheap in Essaouira or Taroudannt.
  • Music CDs with Moroccan, African, Touareg etc. Local people pay approx. 2 Euro for a CD! Tourist price is at 4-6 euros. try to get it at 2 euros. There is a lot of interesting music.
  • Ceramics: ashtrays, bowls, Tajines plates, mugs, very beautiful and archaic best in Tamgroute or Safi or Fez, where everything is produced as it was 1000 years ago. The archaic green pottery in Tamegroute is particularly interesting.
  • Safran: best in Talouine, best quality Approx. 2 Euro the gram !!! In a quite inconspicuous  Shop, right at the end of the city at the collectable taxi stands. In Marrakech you pay at least 3-4 euros for one gram.
  • Babouschs (Berbershoes) everywhere in the Suks (red for women, yellow for men)
  • Argan oil and spices: in Talouine in a shop where we get local prices, 1 liter Arganoil for cooking for approx. 20 Euros!!! You can also buy spices in Marrakesh in the archaic spice market where there are hardly any tourists and where we can get the spices. 50% below the tourist rate. everything freshly ground. (Spice market in Mellah, we cann show you the way)
  • Sandals: the “recycled” sandals, bags and belts make us the shoemaker in Talouine overnight for approx. 10 Euro.
  • Wooden boxes and bowls, carvings: largest selection in Essaouira
  • Jeans, Tshirts, Western clothing: e.g. “Brand” -Jeans a about 10-12 Euro in Quarzazarte, Taroudannt however also in Marrakech in the rue Prince. Dates best in the Dra valley where they come from (Zagora) or at the end in Essouira.
  • Cosmetic Argan oil, care products, creams, aroma oils, essences, all the highest organic quality, but not as cheap as in some pharmacies on the street, but quality proved in the pharmacy at the city gate Bab Aganaou, where you get a highly interesting introduction to Arabic herbal healing art and spices in almost any language. There is no one committed to buying, but as a small recognition for the great introduction it would be polite to buy a small thing. The care products there are certainly all very high quality. Recommend is also the organic cosmetics argan oil, because it is 100% pure and organic. Do not buy there: spices, saffron and fragrant stones. The is somewhere else equivalent and cheaper and fresher.

For drivers

Driving license: Please bring driver’s license (international driving license not necessary)
The Moroccan road network is amazingly good. The more you get to the south, the less you meet traffic and police checks. Driving in Morocco is fun – except in Casablanca, where car rides rather means war – absolutely not recommendable.

Refueling: There is a good network of petrol stations, with no  differnce in price. You will find Gasoline and diesel at all petrol stations in the country. Diesel approx. 9 Dirham and Super approx. 12 Dirham (stand beginning of 2017)
Caution: strictly keep speed limit. City 60, Country 100 Highway 120. Always be aware of police checks at the beginning and end of the cities !! Mind the radar -especially in Quartzazarte, where 60 is obligatory and the Boulevard is quite straight and wide and on the fast road to Essaouira. This leads to driving faster.

Behavior on police checks and in case of penalty: Always drive slow and if you see “stop” or “Halte police” always stop !!!! Even if the policeman makes no sign to stop you. Do not continue until there he gives a sign. You are allowed to pass by slowly without stop only when “Rallentir” is marked on the triangular sign. So best is always stop and wait until the policeman beckons. If Moroccans turn into a speed trap, they usually try to lower the fine of 300 dirhams, by discreetly offering the police 100 dirhams behind the police car or putting a note of 100 dh in the passport but that does not always work, because many Radarkameras are meanwhile modern and the policeman cannot delete the snapshot. There is since the beginning of 2017 a new execution order in fine, which however usually only on request applied: The penalty of mostly 300 Dirham is halved to 150 if you pay it immediately in cash! This you can demand from the policeman. I am of the opinion: to pay 150 Dirham legally to the state is better than to pay 100 Dirham bribery in the bag of the policeman.

Seatbelt: Please always fasten the seatbelt! There is 300 Dirham punishment if you are not attached andthere are many controls.
Mobile phoning on the steering wheel costs 500 Dirham !!!

Night Tours: please avoid !!! The majority of (especially two – wheeled) vehicles and horse coaches are unlit.
Hitchhiker: Never stop on the street when someone is waving with an empty water bottle (popular trick). Even if he stands in the middle of the road and seems to block the way. Slowly pass by, close window and continue! No Moroccan would be in the desert without water. They would then say that they are very grateful and  force you to have a tea with the family of the person concerned. But mostly the family house turns out to be an overpriced carpet shop and you get stuck there for hours and may be you will have an unpleasent experience if you don not buy anything.

Parking

Parking in Morocco is safe, because everywhere you can see a park guard with a strip vest or cap on. They really take care. He expects at the end of Moroccans, according to duration 1 – 2 Dirham, from tourists 3-5 Dirham,(you should know this and leave it quite sovereign at 2, only if there is dispute, then give 5). It is always paid on departure. Always make sure there is a parking guard.

Otherwise it can lead to burglaries in the car. Attention: in the cities there are in addition to the park guards parking meters like in Europe and who does not pull a note gets within 5 minutes a claw at the tire and to free your car  becomes unpleasant and expensive and it costs a lot of time!!

Highways: There are excellent, and not very busy motorways between the large cities with a similar toll system as in France and Italy, but only about 1/3 of what cost in Europe. Be aware of many hidden Radar controls!!!

Getting there

You can drive by car by land or from Genoa and Barcelona by ferry to Tangier but you have to go through some formalities which can be rather cumbersome. The european atomobile clubs can not help in Morocco and are also hardly represented. Green card is essential, however the full-coverage insurance does not pay if an accident happens in Africa. It can lead to a very unpleasant awakening!

Therefore, in most cases you will arrive by plane. The flight time from airports in Germany is between 3.5 and 4.0 hours, so less than on the Canaries.

Cheap flights from Munich

www.transavia.com (Tuesdays and Saturdays) unfortunately the will stop October 2017.
www.sunexpress.com (always Wednesdays)
Royalairmaroc (Monday-Thursday-Saturday)
Lufthansa

Other cheap flights

Ryanair almost daily from Bergamo, Frankfurt Hahn, Düsseldorf Weeze
Easyjet from Berlin and from Basel

Preparation

Movies

Current: The Pontifical, the Medicus (was partly rotated in the Atlas Studios so we will also live)
Exit Marrakech – nice story, you will recognize a lot of what you see there

Classic

The sky above the desert of Bertolucci, classics, shot in places we will visit, especially Tamnougalte
Gladiator: although blockbuster, but with depth and especially turned in AIT Benhadou, which you might visit, (UNESCO World Cultural Heritage).
Orson Wells, Othello (filmed in Essaouira)

Youtube

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=the+colours+Marokkos

Jaimie Oliver in Marrakech, very recommendable !!!!!: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IstiRLvM_5c

Sarah Wiener in Marrakech: also very recommendable: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bzRwhD98ZHI

Travelguide Books (mostly German)

Best Morocco Guide: Morocco: Manual for individual discovery by Astrid Därr and Erika Därr,
Very accurate but not so detailed, also with good map: NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC Spirallo

Travel Guide Morocco: Magazine. Information and tips. Tours. Travelatlas [Paperback] Sylvie Franquet

For background information: Travel Know-How Kulturschock Morocco by Muriel Brunswig-Ibrahim
MERIAN Morocco 01/14 (MERIAN booklets) from seasons publisher, distributed by TRAVELHOUSE MEDIA
Very informative, individual regions with their themes in Morocco, many backgrounds: Morocco for hand luggage:
Stories and reports – Lucien Leitess’s cultural compass

Literature

To the mood, very good!: The happiest man in the world: My journey to the story tellers of Morocc. By Tahir Shah and Andrea O’Brien
Elias Canetti, “The voices of Marrakech” (classics, Nobel laureates, atmospheric beautiful but no more really current).
Roman: “Stars over the desert”, by Ruth Maria Kubitschek, plays, among others. Exactly where you may go in the south
(Tamgroute), quite authentic, good entertaining travel
Malika Oufkir, “The Prisoner”, highly interesting, shocking novel from recent Marokk. History, very recommendable, world literature!!

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