During our time in Marrakesh, the King of Morocco paid a visit to the city. This was not something we were prepared for, and had some interesting impacts on our travel experience – both positive and negative. Here’s a quick post about these…
Cleaning up the city
We noticed several street sweepers and dustbin lorries around cleaning up the streets to make it clean and tidy for the King’s visit. As a tourist, this made the usually dusty and slightly grubby city streets that bit more enjoyable to stroll around!
Along with tidying everywhere up, the city also brought out their best flags and posters to celebrate the visit of their monarch. This made for some great photo opportunities as well as injecting some brightness into the streets. Sometimes there are even special events and parties put on!
Police on patrol
Something I noticed more during state visits when I was in China, the usually relatively passive police force really kicked themselves into action to ensure there was no trouble during the events. As tourists (hopefully…) aren’t generally looking for trouble, this extra police presence is often quite reassuring when you are in a foreign country – particularly if you’re travelling alone or are in a slightly ‘dodgy’ area.
The extra security concerns meant that it often took twice as long to enter historic sites or use public transport – since bags were being thoroughly searched and everyone made to walk through airport-style scanners. When you’re in a rush to see everything during a busy holiday this can be a bit of a pain, but don’t get irritated and try and plan the extra time into your schedule!
During a state visit, the main areas being visited by the King were closed to tourists – meaning that we were unable to visit the main palace in Marrakesh for example. As a tourist however you just have to accept that there is nothing much you can do to get in – so if there are some key sights you are really keen to visit which may be affected by political events or state visits then tick it off your list early in the week!