7.01.2009

Medina Maze

Today was our first full day in Fez, if you can count waking up at 10 a full day. Our courtyard facing room, gets no light when we pull the curtains closed so we didn’t begin to stir until we heard noise outside. Charlton had arranged for our tour guide to come around 9:30, and we assumed we would have breakfast at about 8:30 giving us plenty of time to get ready for the day. With sleepy eyes we glanced at the clock and saw it was 10! You can tell we have been really pushing ourselves that the first time we don’t have a train or a plane to catch time goes by the wayside.

We grabbed a table in the courtyard and were brought Moroccan bread, olives, butter, cream cheese, apricot jam, coffee and mint tea. At first neither of us thought that would be enough, but surprisingly it was very filling. Perfect for a whole day of touring the medina!

Our guide, Halim, showed us all around the old town...not like we saw everything. There are 947 alleyways in the medina, and we probably walked 100 max. We learned the history of Fez, and got a glimpse of what life is like here. We visited the Attarine medersa, one of the many religious schools, which was absolutely gorgeous. We walked through many of the old souks, or marketplaces, that used to specialize in just one product. Now however, many of the different goods are intermixed, so you can go buy a goat head right next to the vegetable stand. How convenient! We also got to peek into the Kariraouine University, founded in the 10th century, the world’s first university (it predates Oxford, Nathan!) as well as a mausoleum.

Fez is the handicraft capital of Morocco, a fact not lost on us as we visited a shop for almost every type today! We got demonstrations on carpets, brass work and fabric making. We also visited a shop that takes seeds from Argan trees (only native to Morocco) and extract the oil to use for beauty supplies and cooking. I got practically a full body treatment with all the samples of moisturizers, lip balms and perfumes…not to mention the spread for some bread! We also visited one of the tanneries that Fez is known for. We were lead to the upstairs terrace that had a fantastic view of all the vats used for dyeing. It was around noon when we went and we both were apprehensive of how strong the smell would be after reading all the guidebooks, however, the terrace was far enough away that we were not assaulted by the smell of all the sheep, cow, goat and camel hides. They had beautiful jackets, bags, belts, ottomans, and of course shoes, all very nice pieces.

We got back to the hotel around 3ish, a full day of sightseeing. We relaxed in our room reading and napping for awhile and then ventured out for an earlier dinner as we hadn’t had lunch. We headed back to Café Clock’s rooftop terrace where we ordered the Fez platter, a sample of Moroccan tapas, and chicken couscous. Both dishes were delicious! The couscous was amazing!

On the way back to the hotel we did a teensy bit of shopping, making sure to pick up a hand of Fatima to add to our Christmas ornament collection for the trip.

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