February 19, 2013


Morocco – Fes

We arrived at the gates of the Fes Medina just after sundown, met by Mohamed who managed the riad deep inside the Medina, where we stayed. The Casablanca airport is connected to the train station, making the train connection to Fes seamless. That was the only easy part this trip.

Full frontal assault is all I can say about Fes. I would never go to Fes first while visiting Morocco if not already a seasoned traveler; with 9000 streets in the 1200 yr old Medina alone, and 1000 of those dead ends, it is impossible to know your way, even for those with great direction. Naturally, the defense-minded urban planners of the medina knew what they were doing and so we were constantly hitting dead ends, maps were useless (who can fit 9000 streets on a map?), confirming and re-confirming, and still getting lost.


Our first day we spent in one tiny corner of the medina, circling around and around, yet never passing by the same shops as the streets were so numerous. We were lucky enough to happen upon a delicious little patisserie where we took refuge from our lack of direction to have café au laits, banana smoothies, and gallete au morrocain (marzipan filled crisps). Thus fortified, we managed to successfully haggle for several pairs of fashionable babouches (leather slippers) from a lovely man, Ahmed, who we found deep inside the slipper souk. Having successfully found our way back to our riad, we went to sleep dreaming of tomorrow’s shopping adventures.

Naturally, nothing is as easy as it sounds. Having realized that we had spent our first day literally going in circles (yet never rounding back again) we decided to go in the opposite direction the following day. This was a lucky move. Going right instead of left rewarded us with ceramic sellers, Bedouin blanket weavers, and the elusive copper sugar pots (you seem to love them as much as I do because they're almost sold out!). The latter we mistakenly did not buy (which we made up for in Marrakech), but we spent a lovely afternoon haggling with the Bedouin blanket weaver. After our deal was done, he offered us homemade lunch and tea. It turned out to be the best tagine we had all trip!

Afterwards, we went back to the ceramics dealer to test out our (by Moroccan standards) unpolished bargaining. I fell in love with these pedestal soap dishes, buying all he had, which, as is the case with most of my purchases, turned out to be only 12. Ryan and I ended our trip in Fez at the lovely, albeit touristy Clock Café where we ate our first really good Moroccan meal: camel burgers and pickled veggies on the side. Yum! 

I hope to see you back here next week when I'll be sharing a bit more about my market experience in Marrakech...

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