I intended to have this post up earlier today, but the wifi at our accommodation decided to die temporarily. So my apologies if the next few posts are in quick succession!
After wandering (slowly) around Rabat yesterday, we caught a train for a few hours to the city of Fez. The trip went quick enough, as there was plenty to look at in the countryside. Our adventures truly began as soon as we set foot off the train and into the city. Chris had booked our accommodation in the old city centre, a few kilometres from the station, and a lack of information about public transport saw us opt for a taxi. Needless to say, a taxi would not have been my first choice: the driver spoke minimal English, sped, honked his horn a lot and appeared to have no seat-belts in his car. We got to the outskirts of the old city safely (and it only cost a few dollars). As soon as we got out of the taxi we were approached by several locals men asking if we had reservations or needed directions (the medina/old city is well over 1000 years old and a veritable maze). We said no, but spent the next 45 minutes aimlessly wandering around, deflecting more locals offering to give directions (for a fee). On the verge of giving up, we stumbled into another guest house, where the owner was kind enough to call our hotel, and a worker came and collected us. Safe to say, we slept well that last night! Plus my fever subsided.
Fez is a whole other world unto itself. If we though Rabat was crazy, we were wrong. It seems as though local men and boys can pick out Chris and I as tourists from 50 metres away, and greet us in French, then English, offering directions, tours, hotels, pot and restaurant menus.
After hustling us into his uncles traditional rug shop (which was fascinating, up until he tried to sell us rugs) our hotel owner pointed us in the direction of terraces that would provide us with views of the medina. We paused out the front of a mosque on the way, wandering where to go, when a local man said he would show us the terraces. Thinking they were nearby we warily followed him through the rabbit warren of streets. He thankfully led us there, and we were shown onto the terraces, which overlook the tanneries of the city, as seen above. All this was free, but when coming down from the terrace, you are ushered through rooms of leather goods – with no prices – and encouraged to take a look.
We wandered around on our own after that, though slower on my account (I am still quite weak and tire easily unfortunately!). Lunch was more local food, of course.
In the afternoon we looked at Musee Batha, a museum of old handmade goods in a former palace.
After consulting a map board and noticing a few signs, we figured out we could follow a bit of a guided walk through the medina. It was great fun, poking your head around each corner and hoping the sign would appear again in the distance!
The walk bypassed our hotel near the end, so we detoured for a short break, before continuing to the end. It brought us through a horribly muddy bric-a-brac area, which came outside the medina and onto some hills overlooking the city.
I had read that you could climb to the top of one of the slightly more distant hills for some amazing views, but it was quite overcast and I was already quite spent. We made do with climbing part way up a closer hill (again, we were followed by a local offering directions who wouldn’t leave us alone).
This country is certainly proving to be the cultural – and culinary! – experience we wanted. I will be back with more Fez adventures shortly!