Upon researching trains in Morocco, I had often read that it was advantageous to pay for a first class ticket to guarantee your seat. During our first train experience in Morocco, we decided to take this advice for our train ride to Marrakech. It was around 2pm local time when we boarded the train and first class was packed. At first, people were sitting anywhere but eventually everyone had to shift back to their assigned seats due to the number of people in the first class cabin. We ended up in 2 seats facing each other and this resulted in having very little leg room. On the plus side, the seats were quite nice and comfortable.
Casablanca and Marrakech are supposed to be less than 250km apart, but the train ride took over 4 hours and we ended up in Marrakech shortly after 6pm. As expected, as soon as you exit the doors of the train station, there are men approaching you to offer you a ride in their taxi. The first few offers were for 80 dirhams and the surprising thing is that they would walk away when you provided a counter offer of anything less than 70 dirhams. Having done some research previously, I knew that the going rate should not be more than 15-20 dirhams but we were willing to pay up to 50 dirhams since we had just finished a long 2 days of travelling. We were turned away by a few taxi drivers for offering 50 dirhams before we finally found one that would take us. I guess the other taxi drivers figured they can stick around and find a tourist that would pay 80 dirhams.
We learned very quickly that taxis in Morocco don’t even have a meter so it’s very important to clarify the rate that you are willing to pay before getting into a taxi. We knew that for the places we were visiting, a taxi ride should never be more than 30-40 dirhams, but we were often willing to pay a little bit more. It’s a matter of a few dollars for us, but it makes a huge difference for these hard working men, who often provide the sole source of income for their large extended families.
On our way back to Casablanca, we took a mid-morning train and decided to chance it and pay for a second class ticket. The ironic thing is that the second class cabin had individual carriages that could fit 6-8 people comfortably and we ended up finding an empty one. For the first three and a half hours of our train ride, we had the carriage to ourselves and so we were able to spread out and even lie down on the seats. We were travelling during Ramadan, which means it was a slower time of year for tourism, so in hindsight, we probably could have purchased a second class ticket on the way to Marrakech as well. We bumped into other tourists who told us they always purchased second class tickets and never had a problem.
During our week in Morocco, we also took a day trip to Essaouira from Marrakech and the Supratours bus we took was very comfortable. They only have a few buses a day and some of them are a “comfort” class bus, which we ended up taking on the return. It is more expensive but since they didn’t offer a regular bus for the time we wanted, we had no choice.