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 was up and atom not quite so early today (Tues 27), breakfast was served at nine at our request, we thought we could do with the extra half an hour in bed as we had a busy previous couple of days.
Today we decided to visit the Kings Palace, we followed the city wall to what on the map appeared to be the entrance only to find this was not in fact, so after walking a great deal further around voila we found it. The palace itself is situated in a large complex of government buildings and extensive gardens, on reaching the palace I must say it was quite disappointing not the elaborate affair I was expecting, apart from its ornate gate and traditionally dressed guards it was all in all quite uninspiring. Next stop was the main shopping area of the city although there is not a vast amount to choose from. We meandered through the streets and discovered the local flower market with some of the most beautiful flower arrangements, as it was getting to near that time of day for a drink not the soft kind we went in search of a hotel, as these seems to be the only places to get one, one such place was the Hotel Peitri with is superb piano / jazz bar Cafe Peitri, and to plan our next days itinerary.
Well we have arrived in Rabat safe and on time, have to say train network is very good. Grabbed a taxi from the station this was more expensive than Fes £1.20 I suppose that’s the price you pay for being in the capital, we were dropped of at the medina gate (one of many) and followed the directions they gave us to the Riad which was a short walk into the medina itself. Now for anyone who has been to Morocco and have stayed in the medina’s know only to well that the shabby dusty streets hide some hidden gems as most of the buildings from the exterior look quite rough and uninviting but behind the Riad’s often very ornate front doors lies a different world indeed. Once inside the Riad you will discover fantastically carved stonework magnificent mosaics fantastic ceilings and ornate marble floors. The rooms are all located around a central atrium with either a small fountain or a large pool a real peaceful place to be from the hustle and bustle of the busy streets outside, so my advice is if you haven’t give it a try you will be pleasantly surprised.
After a very warm welcome and being shown to our lovely room we set off to discover the local area. Rabat is not known to some as a well known city that attracts tourists unless that is you are Moroccan, it is situated on the Atlantic coast probably about the same parallel as the canaries, Rabat is the capital of Morocco and unlike some other Moroccan cities has a relatively small medina, as opposed to Marrakech & Fes, so you would only need perhaps a couple of days to explore the city. After a good look around and the obligatory shopping in the Souks it was time for a drink (alcoholic) now as many of you are aware getting a drink in a Muslim country is no mean feat bars are normally in the larger hotels, so as it was my birthday we set of in search of one such establishment. We stumbled across the Hotel Rabat with its stunning atrium ceiling we had a small bottle of beer each (three of us) for the very expensive price of £12 oh well at least I had one beer on my birthday. Today it’s of further afield to take in some more or the city sights, so watch this space.