Fes [or Fez] was the last stop on our adventure through the country. And honestly, I’d say that we saved the best for last.
It’s small and the most traditional and conservative out of the three cities we visited. It was similar to Marrakech in the sense that there were a lot of markets to attract tourists, at least in the medina, but it was different, in a less busy, small town kind of way.
Where To Stay:
Again, we stayed in another riad-like place, but this time it was a dar. Which are basically the same. Riads typically have gardens inside while dars have a courtyard.
Dar El Bali – We were able to arrange a pick up from the train station and the dar owner met us to bring us to where we were staying since these are usually hard to find. Almost all of the riads/dars are a little off the beaten path which is nice since it can get noisy on the main roads through the medina.
Another thing that I loved about Morocco is that everything feels like a hidden gem. You never know what you’re going to find going through an unassuming wooden door in the back alley. Well, you do eventually learn that you’re going to find some space that is laid with beautiful tiles, rugs, and adorned with lanterns projecting their patterns and colors everywhere you look. And this, was Dar El Bali.
Where To Eat:
Cinema Cafe – Really, this is just if you’re tired of tajine. It’s very Westernized so this is where you’re able to find burgers, sandwiches, and pizza. Milkshakes are also a thing here. Hallelujah!
What To Do:
Go to the Blue Gate – Also known as, Bab Bou Jaloud. You can admire it from one of the many restaurants next to it. Choose a rooftop. This is what we did, but we also may have been on the rooftop of someone’s home which also happened to be a restaurant. We weren’t totally sure, but the view was nice and we had it all to ourselves.
Arrange a tour of the medina – Our friend in Casablanca arranged this for us while we were there, and I have to say that this was one of my favorite days of the trip. Our guide, Amina, was so knowledgable and fun to be with all day. She took us through the food market where we saw locals buying their produce. We even saw someone buying a live chicken! Of course, I know this happens (Because how else does that tasty chicken breast end up on my plate?), but I just don’t think about how it gets there sometimes… Or most of the time. Or ever, really.
Anyway, we walked through more markets where she then led us to different mosques and madrassas. We did not go into the mosques, but we did go into the Madrassa al-Attarine which was absolutely worth the small entrance fee. Each stop was just as amazing as the last with all of the different colored tiles and patterns which somehow look so good together!
After we stopped for lunch, she took us to the Chaouwara Tanneries which is the largest tannery in Northern Africa.
It’s amazing seeing all of the hides and natural dye colors in large vats. Although we didn’t encounter the smells that we read about before visiting, probably because we were there when the weather was cooler, but be sure to grab a bundle of mint anyway just in case… And if you find your way here, make sure you find Achmed. He was our guide in the tannery and absolutely hilarious. It’s people like him that make you realize that even though we’re from completely different places and brought up in different environments, we are much more similar than you’d ever think.
Moving on… which I was unable to do before buying anything at the tannery…
We spent at least 2-3 hours here. It’s easy to do in Morocco as they want to be a good host to you, give you mint tea, and let you take your time either looking or negotiating the price you want.
Shop – Because whatever you didn’t buy somewhere else, you’ll be able to buy it here.
The Royal Palace of Fes – Try to get here early if you can. It’s about an easy 20 minute walk from the medina which will also take you to the Jewish area of the city. We didn’t have time to explore, but the giant, gold palace doors were worth the walk alone.
I fell in love with Morocco in just eight short days. I can honestly say that it’s in my top 3 on my international list. The colors, the food, and most importantly, the people! Everyone was so hospitable and kind.
Of course, there were the silly boys and their, “OH MY GOD. YOU ARE SO BEAUTIFUL. I LIKE YOOOOUUUU.”, or my personal favorite, “YOU ARE SO BEAUTIFUL. YOU LOOK LIKE MY CAT.”, comments as we walked by, but overall the people might have been my favorite part of this journey.