When the opportunity to go back to Marrakech presented itself, I couldn't help but say yes. Having had mixed feelings the first time round, I figured that trying to move past first impressions must also apply to travelling. I am no glutton for punishment and would certainly not renew an overwhelmingly negative experience. However, this had not been the case in Marrakech, city that I have come to fondly regard as an acquired taste. In fact, as my cultural palette had become more refined, so too did my taste for this invigorating city.
Having visited most of the sites on the first trip, this time my focus was on the experience - the food, the homes, the people. We stayed in the Catherine suite at Riad Goloboy, but were so taken by the rooftop's panoramic view over the city that most of our time in was spent up top. Though it only had a small jacuzzi in lieu of a pool, it was enough to cool us down after days out in the sun. The attention to detail, both in decor and service, style and substance, made for an excellent base for our wanders.
Things that made a difference the second time around. 1. Choice of riad. Though the riad itself and its staff were lovely, making our way to and from was more than a little complex (especially if your sense of directions is calibrated like mine) and was cause for some frustration. If you are one to find a needle in a haystack, then by all means, choose away. If not, pay attention to location before booking. I wouldn't advise against staying within the medina (in fact I did just that), however, make sure there are easy markers to help you navigate. No one likes to get lost after a long tiring day of exploring.
2. Take in the sounds, smells, and overall warmth of the city, but don't sweat the small stuff. Catcalling is common. Though I tend to find such situations very uncomfortable, they are a somewhat harmless tradeoff for a city that otherwise feels safe and boasts incredibly welcoming people.
3. Haggling is the name of the game. Another one of those potentially uncomfortable situations; but don't shy away from bartering.. just think of it as working on your negotiation skills! Someone who can get a pair of babouche for 100 dirhams down from 500 is worthy of adding the skill on their Linkedin. And whilst on the topic of purchases I will say this. Marrakech is undoubtedly full of gems and the souk is generally the best place to find beautiful items. The tough part is to find them amidst the sea of made in china generic "traditional artefacts" that you will see produced and reproduced around every corner of the medina. If you can help it, never buy on the spot, always have a wonder and dig a little deeper. But if you really love an item, do be sure to remember the stall, so you can find it again if the item proves worthwhile. My purchases were few but remain firm favourites: a straw hat and a silver statement necklace (though I must confess that had I had room, I would have probably smuggled a rug back too!)