Thursday, July 21, 2016

From Rabat to Fes

This morning we had a delicious traditional Moroccan breakfast served in the dining area beside the pool. It consisted of Moroccan baked goods, mint tea, hand squeezed orange juice, a Moroccan type pancake and a mushroom cheese omelet. Yum.

I would very happily return to this wonderful Riad in Rabat. The place is lovely, a cool, calm refuge in the centre of everything. The place was pretty, clean and most of all, the owner and staff were warm, welcoming and anticipated all our needs. It is called Riad Zyo at www.riad-zoo.com

 Our driver dropped us off so that we could visit the Kasbah. Very pretty. Great views of the city from the wall.

After driving a few hours, we arrived into the city of Meknes which is known as the the Versailles of Morocco. We first went to the Granary and Haras de Meknes.

Carol and I had to go to the washroom. We started to go across the street to a public toilet, but the driver and person from the Granary, quickly herded us towards some washrooms deep inside the ancient site.... I'm not sure what we would have seen in the public washroom but from the reaction of the driver, I'm sure it wouldn't have been pretty.

It was cool inside the granary. We had an amazing guide who really knew his stuff and took pride in the heritage.  The architecture was well advanced of the time it was built. As was the attached Haras de Meknes which used to be a huge stable complex.

We then went for a rather disappointing ( but expensive) lunch at a supposedly Moroccan Restaurant called Daffir ( or something like that). They gave us menus and then said we couldn't order from them. They verbally gave us a choice of two overpriced items.

After lunch we went to see Bab Mansour which is one of the finest and most ornamented gates in Morocco.

We next visited Habs Qara, the underground cells that were allegedly used to house the sultans army of slaves. We paid an entrance fee but The guide there was not very good and rushed through the tour which lasted under 10 minutes, then complained that his tip wasn't enough. Really.

We didn't get to see the Mausoleum of Moulay Ismail because it was closed for construction.

On our way to Volubis we passed Moulay Idriss, which is a sacred site for Muslims. We would have visited but the temperature was over 42 degrees and it was high on a hill in full sun.

Our highlight of the day was Volubis; a well preserved and extensive Roman ruin. It was well worth the money to hire the guide who made the ruins come alive for us. Despite the heat, it was an enjoyable way to end the afternoon.

On our arrival to Fes we parked just outside of the walls of the ancient medina where our riad is located. Since there are over 9000 alleyways, many of them narrow, there is no car traffic in the ancient city. We were much relieved when a guy with a cart met us and rolled all our luggage to the riad.

We are staying at the Riad Tafilalet right in the old Medina. We were immediately surrounded by a calmness as we walked into the lovely traditional courtyard with a star-shaped tiled fountain trickling in the middle. We were immediately seated at a table and served Moroccan mint tea and home made almond biscuits as the guy dragged all our luggage up the steep and narrow stairs...( remember, I had to pack for seven weeks).

Our spacious suits are cool and traditionally decorated with curled grillwork, ornately tiled floors, metal cut-work lamps and stained glass. I definately feel like I'm in Morocco.

Our hotelier took us up more narrow stairs to the rooftop patio. From its heights, the whole ancient medina with its intricate mazes of alleyways was laid out below us.

It was quite late (9:15pm) when a guide showed up to walk us to a traditional Moroccan restaurant. We needed to be guided their because of the above mentioned alleyways. Some of these alleyways were so narrow that both shoulders practically touched when you walked through the narrowest ones....I can't imagine how a larger person would get through. Maybe slathered in olive oil and pushed through.

As I also mentioned earlier. There are no cars in the medina so any heavy type transport is done by donkeys. Henceforth, there is always a slight smell of donkey poop in the air and you have to watch where you step.

By nighttime, there is also a lot of garbage left in the streets, much of it clawed apart with choice tidbits eaten by the many stray cats.

We had a lovely meal at the restaurant before being escorted home by our guide.

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