May 4, 2012

Exploring the Old Town of Fez

Morocco. Even the word sounds magical. A few months before we planned our trip, I had just started my first grown-up job and was itching to spend my new fancy-shmancy (well it wasn't that fancy) paycheck on somewhere super exotic and different than any place we'd been before. And wow were we glad we chose Morocco! We loved our perfect week in Morocco so much that it kicked-off Christian and I's fascination with Muslim countries--we found their people to be incredibly friendly, their cities to be filled with so much history and their cultures to be rich in color and tradition. We soon found ourselves planning a trip to a Muslim country every year since--we spent a long weekend in Istanbul last year and this year we planned an unforgettable week in Jordan (which at the last minute had to be postponed until next year! But no worries Jordan 2013 is on!). 

Well..let me start from the beginning...

We boarded our middle-of-the-night flight from Amsterdam to Casablanca and after arriving at a ripe 5AM, we caught the first taxi we could and hopped aboard a comfy 4-hour train bound for Fez. It’s claimed that the medina (or old city) of Fez is one of the oldest and best restored in the Muslim world—this fact alone meant we had to see it for ourselves and Fez was a must see destination on our list! As soon as we arrived, we dropped our backpacks off at the riad (Moroccan riads are AMAZING! I'll touch up on this later). We were greeted by a cheery British woman who owned the place--Riad Verus--and graciously brought us Morocco’s famous mint tea and cakes to go with it.  We were a little bit crunched for time in Fez and arranged to have a local give us a private tour of the city. This may have been the best idea ever because once we entered the historical maze-like souks of Fez, we didn’t know right from left! Escaping into the crowds and alleyways of Fez's souks felt like we stepped back in history and the old city was indescribable—a bustling mix of workers, street-sellers, donkeys pulling carts, etc. Any one direction was a feast for the eyes--multi-colored carpets hanging from the walls met keyhole archways and a centuries-old lifestyle being carried through the 21st century.

Our guide, Azziz, took us to places unbeknownst to passers-by. We visited an old elementary school being converted to a luxurious riad, witnessed a rooftop carpet maker working on his latest masterpiece and got a glimpse of Fez’s famous tanneries and tile factories. He even invited us into his sister's house for a delicious helping of mint tea--I seriously couldn't get enough of that damn mint tea!! By the time the sun set, we took our riad’s recommendation, navigated ourselves through the souks and to a 4-story candlelit café choosing to eat dinner on the roof terrace overlooking the rooftops. It was majestic and Christian and I were beaming with delight. It was only the first full day and we loved Morocco already :).
Riad Verus!
Itty bitty babies!!!!
I obviously ignored the 'don't touch wild animals in Africa' warning...I just couldn't help myself! Fuzzy little chicks!
A night cap :)


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LindseyC said...

GORGEOUS! I want to go to Morocco SO bad and it's so close from here.... Amazing. I love Muslim countries too - such nice people and such beautiful detail!

Christian Peeters said...

One of the best trips we ever did. I amazing country and the people are very open and warm. Just watch your wallet when buying carpets

Christian Peeters said...
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Anonymous said...

great pics!

cynthia said...

Gorgeous pics! That looks like a great trip. Looking forward to reading more. :)
Happy Friday

Annette | Bucket List Journey said...

What wonderful photos! But, especially the one with the fuzzy chicks. So cute :)

Alex, Speaking Denglish said...

ah I'm missing hte perfect opportunity to go there in June and these pictures just make me more sad! Looks like an amazing trip!

A and B said...

Beautiful photos! makes me want to be in morocco wandering the bazaars!