What a difference a day makes, sun shining, blue skies just perfect. We decided to follow some of the marked walks around the medina from the guide book we had, which sounded great in theory but not so good in practise, we found the first couple of plaques marking the walk, but there are so many narrow streets and ally ways it it very easy to loose your way, also the fact the route marking system was a lot to be desired, and I am sure the locals remove the signs so you get lost on purpose so they then can try to cajole you to have them be your impromptu tour guide for a price of course, but this aside we managed to find our way around quite easily. We meandered through the maze of streets and many souks, visited some amazing buildings, and saw some fantastic architecture a thoroughly enjoyable day, we even visited the tannery which is where we said we would not go as the smell is horrendous (found out from our experience in Marrakech) but as it was not the height of summer the smell was not so bad, and I got some great photo’s from a rooftop terrace (will post them on my Flickr site on my return). We returned to the Riad thoroughly exhausted after walking what must been miles a really great day. One observation I noticed was that the many sites that were marked on the walk had no sort of official at the entrances just a bunch of shady looking guys asking for money to see inside, but luckily the fee is very small and they were all worth the visit.
Well today we decided to browse around some of Fes’s shops in the modern part of town, the weather looked pretty bleak and rain was forecast. So we got into a taxi and headed off into town We were dropped off at the street through town with its tree lines pavements, we walked along the soon to be discovered rather badly paved pedestrian walkway and found no shops, none what so ever, all the locals around where staying said it was a nice part of town, well disappointedly it was not, and the only thing we did find along the street was endless cafe’s pretty seedy ones at that just full of men who seems to have nothing better to do but drink coffee or tea all day. So we decided to get a taxi back to our Riad and get on the tourist trail, that’s until the heavens opened a complete deluge of rain first then hailstones, we thought we had been transported back home we got thoroughly soaked, so after a real struggle to find a taxi due to the weather we eventually grabbed one and went back to our Riad to dry out. So with some dry clothes on if was off out again, (luckily the rain was now just light showers) to get something to eat. Now we read in the guide books about a chic cafe in the souk called “Cafe Clock” so we decided to give it a go, now we were told it was not to far into the souk? We eventually found it with some help from the locals down a very small ally, and it certainly did live up to the guide books information, a real gem, so suitably fed it was off to find a hotel for a drink, luckily for us there was one just close to our Riad called the Hotel Bartha, now this must have been a grand place some 40 years ago but it was showing its age now, even the bell boy complete in his rather worn out uniform must have been about 70 but at least they served drink. Now a tip regarding drinking alcohol in Morocco, like all Muslim countries it is forbidden, so it’s difficult to get a alcoholic drink, and it seems to be only served in hotels and like all Hotels throughout the world they are very pricy so be warned. So a bad day completely ruined by the weather did not turn out to bad after all. More later
Well we are now back in Fes, the train journey back was not as smooth as the one going, it was an hour late leaving and it seemed much slower. We got back to our Riad around 3pm and immediately set of into the souks, the souks in Fes are far bigger than either Rabat or Marrakech but Marrakech is still my favourite. The narrow alleyways and the ware’s for sale are just so diverse it had to be seen to be believed, the food on offer was just as diverse ranging from camel head meat in a roll (yes I did say camel head) to small delicate little cakes, and everything else in between. We wandered through ally’s, streets, squares, for what seemed like hours and despite our best intentions not to get lost we did, hopelessly, but that’s the whole idea when visiting the souks, but at no time did we feel threatened or unsafe, for sure you get the obligatory young lad who wants to be your impromptu tour guide but just politely say no, you will probably have to say this a few times though for them to get the message but that’s all part of the experience, and once you are out of the medina you will always find a taxi. Whilst on the subject of taxis always get a petit taxis (the red ones) these range from fairly modern (I use that term loosely) to beat up old bangers but they all work and get you where you want to go, also always insist on the meter being on, don’t get talked into taking a lift from guys with modern mini buses though as we were offered a lift to the train station when we left Fes to Rabat for a 100 dirham (about £8) for a journey in a petit taxi which cost us 8 dirham (70p) so beware. More later
Well it’s Day 2 the sun is shining its nice and warm and it’s my birthday, perfect. We were up bright and early for breakfast which was served in the magnificent courtyard. The Riad was just as described first class. It was then off down into town to exchange some money pay the bill then off to the train station for the next leg of our journey to Rabat. On our way to the bank we asked a driver at the local taxi rank how much would it cost to get to the station and he told us 100 dirham which is about £7.50 which in England would not be so bad, so we said we needed to go to the bank, collect our cases and we would be back. On returning to our Riad to collect our cases we asked how much should a taxi cost to the station, we told the receptionist how much we were quoted and she was shocked when we told her 100 dirham she said it should be about 14, but the actual cost in a metered taxi was 8 dirham about 75p, so top tip always ask for advice in your hotel and always get metered cab as these are normally very cheap abroad.
We arrived at the station, buying the the tickets was a breeze with my very limited pigeon French. We did our homework on the train network ONCF before we left so we new our first class tickets for the two and a half our journey was only going to be £9 each bargain. The train we were on served along with various other stations Fes, Rabat, Marrakesh and Agadir, which a hell of a journey, but a great way of getting around if you want to see the Moroccan countryside.