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Calm to Chaos in Morocco-Part Two

As we moved on from Tangier to Fes, our guidebook warned “even if you felt you were getting to grips with Moroccan cities, Fes is bewildering”. This is precisely why we chose this city as our second destination in Morocco…in fact, we were considering slowing down a little and staying in what is considered one of Morocco’s most traditional of the industrial cities for at least a couple of weeks.

Right off the hop, things were different when we arrived in Fes. The taxi drivers were more eager to get us into their vehicle, and we found out precisely why within about 20 minutes…fresh tourists are so easy to manipulate.


Watch out for taxis without metres!!

We paid about 3 times the price to be dropped off in the opposite end of the Medina (Moroccan city centre) to where we had asked to be taken. To add insult to injury, the cab driver left us with 3 small boys who innocently promised to take us to our hostel and then basically left us stranded a few 100 metres in when we declined their offers to provide us with full Medina tours the following day.

Inside the Funky Fes Hostel-our small oasis in the madness of the Fes Medina

At this point, tackling the Fes Medina seemed impossible so we ended up getting a local to catch us another taxi and ensure that this time that we properly made it to the Funky Fes Hostel on the Bab el Djedid end of the Medina.

I was still pretty skeptical so we actually asked the driver to walk us right up to the hostel door before we paid him…but we made it!

After this little awakening to our new life in Fes, we decided it would be best to hire a proper guide in order to try to get a feel for the Medina because the map below only further convinced us that this place was a maze!

Where to begin!?

Our tour was fabulous (as was the company…great times with Jaime, Rachel and Joel)! Our guide helped us make our way through the infamous narrow alleyways…
and took us to a fabulous carpet co-op where we were offered our first “Moroccan scotch”- mint tea!

Enjoying our first offer of mint tea at the carpet store.








The tour just got better and better as we weaved in and out of various different stores-including a huge warehouse of beautiful leather products from the leather tannery and a shop filled wall to wall with scarves made from cactus silk, cashmere and wool.

Preparing cactus silk for scarves and carpets.

Skott's a little wrapped up at the moment...

Then came the food market which truly was an assault on the senses. Here are a few of the products that caught my eye…

Bowls and bowls of olives...Moroccan's love olives and they are great in the chicken tajines!

Strings and strings of dried figs. Dried fruit are often used in lamb and beef tajines as well as for dessert.

Camel head in the meat market....sorry to those with weak stomachs!

Dessert! Marzipan in all kinds of colours with nuts and peanut brittle!























For our second full day in the crazy city of Fes we had a long list of things we wanted to see and do. Together with our friend Jaime we took in the Medersa Bou Inania, a extraordinarily beautiful Muslim school built by the Sultan Abou Inan (1351-58) that tourists are able to go in outside of prayer times (it is actually the only building in the city still in religious use that non-Muslims are allowed to go in).

The story goes that the Sultan threw the accounts into the river when the Merenid monument was completed because “a thing of beauty is beyond reckoning” (I think this is also what Skott says about me ; ).

Next we visited the King’s Palace and unfortunately, he did not invite us in for mint tea but we were super impressed with his pad!

Lastly, a bit of a sad visit, but very interesting, we visited the Jewish cemetery in what used to be the Mellah-the Jewish ghetto- in Fes. There are virtually no more Jewish families living in Fes as they all left shortly after Morocco gained independence in 1956 because of uncertainty about their position due to Arab-Israeli relations. But their former homes, which stand out against the traditional Moroccan homes, and their synagogues still stand to tell their story.



During the evening we decided to take a petit taxi in to the Ville Nouvelle (French Part) of the city in hopes of finding an interesting place to have dinner. This was a huge disappointment!

We literally walked for an hour and a half searching for a place to eat as we passed cafe after cafe full of men drinking coffee and tea-but these places do not serve food! We reached the “Restaurant Ten Years” that my “trusty” guidebook recommended and it was laughable. There was not a soul partaking in their limited menu and this was a big enough warning sign for us to stay clear!

Famished, we settled for a little whole in the wall restaurant, hidden between a few classier cafes. The rice was cold and we believe Skott’s stomach ailments the following day were brought on by the sketchy kabob he had there.

But…despite all of this, there was a happy ending

I honestly would have been appalled to think that in a country rich with spices and notoriously delightful food that I, hater of fast food, would visit a McDonald’s but this is in fact where our night ended. The disappointment of our horrible night out seemed to melt away as we all enjoyed a McDonald’s McFlurry!

I went to bed with a huge grin on my face…it seems that ice cream really can make everything better!

All in all, Fes was an adventure but we decided that it was too big, too hectic, and too crazy for us to settle down in for an entire month.

Where to next then??

The city of blue…

Farewell Fes! Standing outside the infamous "Blue Door" opening to the "Old City"-Fes El Bali

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2 Responses to “Calm to Chaos in Morocco-Part Two”

  1. Jaime September 28, 2011 at 1:22 am #

    Thanks for the mention! Oh man… yeah I honestly just hated Fez… I had a great time with yall and everyone I met there (Im hanging out with the Spanish girls right now) & yeah I cant help but hate Fez. I havent written about it on my blog but I sure will. Hope yall are enjoying the blue town… I miss it so much.
    Jaime recently posted..Chefchaouen, a town with a million shades of blue “in photos”.

    • Skott September 28, 2011 at 2:43 am #

      Yeah, Fez was certainly a bit of a rude awakening. How does Marrakesh compare??? Get lost in the medina yet??

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