Hello, connoisseurs! Today is a day I've been looking forward to for some time now. The chance to finally share the pictures and experiences so close to my heart from our honeymoon to Spain and Morocco. Fez is a magical city, and you can't help being drawn in by it! Fez is the cultural capital of Morocco and consists of miles and miles of alleys burrowing through the bustling medina enclosed by huge walls and accessible only through any of the twelve city gates. No cars are allowed in this city, only pedestrians and donkey carts.
|Overlook of Fez.|
It has been said that to walk every alley of the city would take all of three months to do. They vary from broad to almost impossible to walk through...and one is left to wonder how these buidlings were even build up so close to one another. You look above you to see two buildings leaning on one another and wonder if their ancient stone might crumble on top of you at any moment.
John and I were privileged to spend two full days here. One we spent exploring on our own and the other we spent buying up souvenirs, going on a guided tour, and drinking as much Moroccan tea as is humanly possible.
I know people are anti-guided tour, and usually I am too, but because Fez is so huge, so confusing, so busy, and every single alley looks the same, a guided tour will help get you to the best sights in town that you probably wouldn't be able to find on your own. The only downside to these tours is that they are designed to get you to spend money (and too much of it at that!) so be polite, say thank you, maybe even tip people for their presentation, but don't feel obligated to buy.
One of our stops on our guided tour was to a hand woven fabric store. As you can see they make beautiful scarves, blankets, and even duvets. Any guided tour will take you here, guaranteed. I did purchase here. The prices weren't that bad for what they were (hand dyed and woven). No bartering here...the price is the price.
|At the tanneries|
Another stop is the tannery. There are many in Fez, but this is the most famous. The prices are VERY steep here, I would buy in another city if you plan on traveling around Morocco a bit more to avoid the Fez mark-up. The tanneries are the largest in the world and smell absolutely disgusting. Part of the tanning process is to soak the skins in fermented pigeon poop, and it smells absolutely rancid. They leave sprigs of fresh mint around the railing to hold to your nose...this feels a bit snobby (in a "I'm so wealthy and can't stand the stench of those lesser" kind of way) but it can't be avoided, the smell will cue your gag reflex.
Many other stops were made, but one of my favorites were to the many mosques in Fez. Fez is known as the "Mecca of the West." As I mentioned, it is the cultural captial of Morocco, but what makes it so is that it is the spiritual center of the country. Here you will find the oldest mosques in the country, and some of the most grandiose. We were allowed in, Morocco only allows Muslims into their mosques, but you can stand at the front and take a look inside.
As you speak with the locals you find that the people of Fez are very proud to be so. Their attitude is that of a Texan or a Saudi...they believe whole-heartedly that they are from the best place in the world! When you ask people in other Moroccan cities where they are from they might hold their chin high, their hand to their heart and proclaim, ever so loudly and proudly, that they are from "the beautiful city of Fez, the spiritual capital!!"
When you're not touring I recommend walking up and down the streets. There are two main "roads," the Talaa Kebira and Talaa Seghira. There is more than enough to see on these two roads and if you want to venture far off the beaten path just make sure you know those two street names so that people can point you back to them.
When bartering for souvenirs take it slow, build a relationship, and get to know the storekeeper. Stop for mint tea and some schwarma. One of my favorite memories was stopping in a (literal) hole in the wall where an old man was grilling up questionable meat. We decided it looked like an adventurous place to eat and squeazed in the five foot by five foot hole to sit at a wooden table with an absolutely ancient old Moroccan couple already eating their lunch. We sat down and made small talk. Very, very small talk in broken Moroccan Arabic and bits of French. The chef brought us mint tea served in glasses that I swear haven't seen soap in years and we sipped happily away. The old couple slid over their plate of meat and bread and insited we share with them until our food was ready. There we were, with people we had never met, sharing a meal and having a good laugh over...well, I'm not really sure...the inability to communicate, I suppose.
Question of the Day:
When you travel do you do guided tours?
What's your favorite "with the people" memory?
I do guided tours that also allow free time. I love the photo of the mosque. It's always interesting to me to see churches and mosques. Quite often the decorations are just breath taking.ReplyDelete
Lovely post, Hannah! No wonder you were looking forward to sharing it :) Your honeymoon pictures are all so vibrant & beautiful!ReplyDelete
When we travel ,we tend to not do guided tours, and just wander around on our own. However, I think if we ever visited another country we would definitely go for a guided tour. ... Actually, when we visit CA in a few weeks we are going on a "wine tour", which I think will be good because we will get to see more than we most likely would on our own :) (Although I am working to develop an itinerary for San Francisco myself, as I've been there with a group before!)
Beautiful Beautiful pictures! Thanks for sharing. My favorite with the people memory has been on mission trips in Jamaica. What I love about mission trips in Jamaica is working with the people there. They openly come and help you share stories and sing right along side you. Those moments show you just how similar we all are.ReplyDelete
stunning! My father in law fly's for free so my so my husband was well traveled growing up...needless to say is is the best tour guide he knows all the spots to go to :)ReplyDelete
I would love to go to Fez! These are awesome pictures! I generally don't like guided tours, but when I studied abroad we had SO many guided tours, and it actually made things easy since we didn't have to decide what to see - they chose for us!ReplyDelete
Beautiful images!!! I would love to visit there. We are going to Italy in a few days and plan to have some guided tours. Will post pics upon our return :)ReplyDelete
Great pictures and stories! I'm not sure I am brave enough to eat at a place like you did!! I've not done any guided tours, unless you consider going to England and having my dad as a tour guide :) Well, I guess in Niagara Falls we were on the trolley and that was sort of like a "tour" that was guided, so there you go! It was inexpensive and fun, not extremely informative or exciting, though.ReplyDelete
That's awesome places! I would like to travel to there if I have chance! :DReplyDelete
Wow! What an amazing trip! I love the lunch in the hole in the wall. I would SO love to go on an adventure with you! :)ReplyDelete
what an amazing city!! the mosque is absolutely gorgeous!ReplyDelete
i've never done a guided tour. i'm not against them, i just enjoy all the research before going some place new. i wouldn't turn one down in a city as compact as fez though.
awesome pictures, how fun to go somewhere exotic on your honeymoon!! i haven't ever done a guided tour...i don't really want to be with other people when i'm on vaca, however, i wouldn't be opposed in locations like this where you would see and learn so much more, esp if you don't have a lot of time to explore on your own.ReplyDelete
What a beautiful place! I would LOVE to visit Morocco! I love that no cars are allowed in Fez, I wish more places were like that!ReplyDelete
We did a guided tour through Italy (Rick Steves) and we loved it. Half the time tours, have the time on your own. It was nice not having to book all the hotels and tours on our own! And we didn't have to wait in any lines :)
Wow, looks amazing. I studied in Seville in college for a semester and never went to Morocco, even though it was so close. This post is definitely making me wish I had! Looks like you guys had a great time.ReplyDelete
fez is now added to my european travel list, australia and asia frist!ReplyDelete
Is it really ignorant of me to say that I have never heard of Fez? I always just assumed it was a hat! So glad you introduced it to me! It sounds like you experienced the authentic side of Morocco which is the best way to see places (I am a bit of a chicken when it comes to eating in questionable holes in the wall which is a shame because I know I am missing out on these kinds of experiences).ReplyDelete
OMG. THE PHOTOS. holy crap this is gorgeous. and how interested that cars arent allowed in fez? i had no idea. generally im not a big guided tour lover, but my parents are, so anytime we travel together its lots and lots of tours :)ReplyDelete
wow, i miss morocco so much. you are so fortunate to have that experience, id love to go to Fez!!ReplyDelete
Beautiful. One of the places I definitely want to go. Love the story about your "hole in the wall" meal :) My sister and I took a guided tour of the Vatican and it was money well spent - so nice to have someone knowledgeable show you around so you can enjoy more!ReplyDelete
Lovely pictures! Morocco is such a beautiful country with lovely people.ReplyDelete
Thanks for your sweet comment, I couldn't agree more on the undies ;-)
Love from London xo
Love all of your pictures girl, and they really make me want to travel more....like right now. :DReplyDelete
These pictures are great, it looks like ana amazing place! My friend and I are planning on taking a guided tour through Europe, since it would be cheaper and we're poor students!ReplyDelete
So cool, what a great post! I absolutely LOVE the picture of the mosque...it looks gorgeous!ReplyDelete
My cousin is living in Morocco with his wife at the moment, and now I REALLY want to visit them lol! :)
Hey Hannah, it's so great to be back and reading through your posts again. These pictures are gorgeous, you're making me wish my planned trips were a little closer. Morocco is definitely a place I want to visit :)ReplyDelete
My husband and I travelled through Morocco a few years ago and completely fell in love with. Fes is such a magical little city. Your pictures are BEAUTIFUL!ReplyDelete
This is such a beautiful post! I would love to visit Morrocco and these images and impressions only make me crave it even more. I don't like to do guided tours when I travel, I like to explore a new place by myself (and if possible, by walking, not using any means of transportation), but I agree, sometimes a guide is needed. One of my favourite with the people memory is from Istanbul, from the Grand Bazaar, where, among bargening for souveniers, we were invited in a kind of a coffee shop where we were served the best Turkish coffee in the world and they showed us how they made it. And one other memory is from this year in Berlin, when we stopped to eat at an Italian restaurant and I remarked that the waiter was Italian, so I started a conversation in Italian. He proudly said: "I am not an Italian, I am a Sicilian." ;)ReplyDelete
Loved this tour of Fez - I have a passion for Morocco, its culture, its charm, its atmosphere. Went to Marrakech and Ouarzazate (South) 3 years ago. It was during Ramadan and I remember me and my friends went for a tour of this small city one evening and at the end of the market one of the merchant called Abdu invited us for tea and show us his shop - Ali Baba Treasure place. We were like in another planet, another century - he told us everything was less extensive than free (Funny when we realized the real price of each piece we wanted to buy!!!). It was such an amazing experience we brought our friends with us the next day.ReplyDelete
Depending on the country, tour-guided or on our own. Loves both, different styles for different mood.
Wow - beautiful photos! My parents recently went to Morocco and I would love to go someday. The only tour I've done was a Christian Pilgrimage tour to Israel, Jordan and Egypt. I like to do travel on our own, but I think some locations really do need a tour so I wouldn't be opposed to doing it again in the future!ReplyDelete