On The Road: Souks and the city in Morocco

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The Independent Travel

I love shopping, so Marrakech is paradise on earth for people like me. Whether it's the boutiques in La Ville Nouvelle or the shops in the souks, I'm there. Popping through the bazaar in the early evening is fine – the majority of treasures are being put safely away until the next day – and it makes for an eerie shortcut: empty, deserted, almost naked.

During the day, however, abandon hope, all ye who enter here. Even those clutching guidebooks, hand-drawn maps and a GPS won't be seen again for hours. Never listen to your travelling companion if they say, "Let's take a shortcut through the souks, it'll be quicker." You'll emerge exhausted and defeated, with jewellery you never knew you couldn't live without, a leather bag for your notebook, and Berber eyeliner that will look amazing for days until you realise you've been walking around looking like a teenage goth.

You may be able to walk past the jars of spices, the soup vendors, the sequined babouches, but I'll be impressed if you visit at this time of year and don't come back with a woolly hat. All it takes is a momentary pause, a slight hesitation, and a hat is being jammed on your head by a friendly lady giving you her first price. I'm usually lost by this point.

It's about 18C in the sun, and I have extra clothing for later when it gets cold; I really don't need a hat. I hand it back, all the while trying not to admire its lovely turquoise colour, and turn to walk away. As I move off, the price drops, then drops some more. I haven't bought anything today. I was just cutting through to meet someone. But I have no self-control. I hand her the money and get the warm feeling of owning something new.

I've no time to stop now. I march purposefully round the corner. The sun glints off something silver and catches my eye. My pace slows a little. I'll probably be late. I hope I get paid soon.

Footprint's 'Morocco Handbook' is available now

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