Holiday in June: Fez (Day 1)

Fez looks almost like LA from here
Fez looks almost like LA from here

We definitely had the most interesting cultural experience of our trip in Fez over the next three days. Our 4 hours train ride from Tangier was uneventful apart from a local sitting down next to AG feigning fascination in the book he was reading in order to offer up the services of good tour guides that he know if we just visit him in the tannery. It took some convincing to get him to leave us be, so I could once again pass out unattractively against the window.

We arrived in the Ville Nouveau area of town where the train station was located and were instantly reminded of being in LA with giant palm trees like the main thoroughfare. Cars were modern, people were dressed as Westerners and life seemed very different from the city we left behind in the most Northern city of Morocco.

The new old part...
The new old part…

As we continued on we began to see the landscape change incremental the closer to the Medina that we approached. The “new-old” section of town featured some of the beautiful architecture that we expected and also became much more unkempt. But, we still had yet to reach the “old-old” part of town where armed with just an address and a map of only the main street of the Medina we would hope to stumble upon our hotel. We decide to take the long walk to our hotel in order to explore some sights along the way. Little did we know how long our walk would actually be.

Our hotel room
Our hotel room
Our hotel room key
Our hotel room key

When we entered the Medina it was both picturesque and overwhelming. There were as many vendors and streets as you can possibly imagine but none pushy like those found in Turkey. Through are a series of signs posted above the street that lead you on different touristic paths through the medina we made our way (as there are no maps available for the over 9,500 street). But this method of organization doesn’t prevent the locals from wanting to be your tour guide and help you find a hotel (even if you inform them that you already have one). Walking around with our bags was probably the worst part. With AG in the lead I felt safe, as long as he didn’t walk too quickly, and confident that we would find out way. Alone I would have been terrified by this maze. After an hour of searching, giving in and asking a few locals, we finally arrived at Riad La Maison Verte. The hotel was immaculate, a recently restored “manor-type” house of hand carved woodwork, with all of the modern comforts foreigners expect, like free wi-fi, which we were promptly given the code for upon arrival.

We were ecstatic to have finally arrived and get a chance to relax for a bit before entering the Medina again. We soon learned that we could have gotten a drive to pick us up from the train station, but everyone has to get lost in the Medina at least once. Right?

My puertorican friend Luis, mistaken for a local over and over again
My Puertorican friend Luis, mistaken for a local over and over again

Later that night our friend LRS was due to arrive from Barcelona and join us for the next few days in Fez before heading of for his fabulous summer internship with Amazon in Seattle. While waiting for him to arrive we ventured again into the Medina, returning to our starting point to find an interesting restaurant, Cafe Clock. When arrived there was live music and dancing, it was very popular we could tell. We mounted several flights to the top terrace and settled down into a cozy bench for a good hearty meal. AG tried the Camel Burger (the reason we came) and I must say after a taste it was great. Better than a beef burger in Barcelona by volumes!

View down to the first floor with live music and dancing
View down to the first floor with live music and dancing
Ornate Arabic writing adorns the wall to the top terrace
Ornate Arabic writing adorns the wall to the top terrace

When we left the restaurant we could tell that the Medina was likely to be closing down soon. Shops were emptying and closing their wooden shutters and the crowd was dwindling. We made out way back, without getting too lost, just in time for LRS’s arrival. Our first day in Fez was hectic, but nice.




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