A Travellerspoint blog

Fes - Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Tour the medina, one of the world's largest walled in cities. Visit the King's Palace, the tanneries and potters. Lunch in a traditional restaurant

sunny 39 °C

Hotel - The Riad Fes - upgrade to the Ambassador's Suite

It is so hot, we slept with the air con on last night, which is something we never do. Phil was pretty restless with his cough so we were both awake a few times during the night.

The bathroom at the end of our connecting corridor has no air conditioning and it is like a sauna - however, it is fantastic for drying clothes so I rinsed all Phil's shirts and tee shirts and they dried overnight. Brilliant.

Breakfast was nice. I had freshly squeezed orange juice, a small glass of rice pudding and then ordered some nos nos (milky coffee) and one fried egg. I even put my finger up, indicating one. But what do I receive - two! I could write a book about ordering boiled eggs in Spain and Portugal (without much success), so now I have taken the safe option, and order fried eggs. But for some reason, one means two!


Anyway, breakfast over, we met Abdou at 10 am for our guided tour of the Medina (walled city). Mohammad was our local guide today and we started with a visit to the King's Palace, where we had a brief chat with about seven other Aussies, from Melbourne and Queensland.


Then we drove to a high point for a panoramic view over the city. Saw the Aussies again! They must be following us.


We called into a pottery place where people who have no jobs and maybe had been in a bit of trouble, are trained as potters. I don't know how long it takes to train a potter, but one guy was in his seventies. They are very good but OH&S would have a field day here. No thank you - nothing for us to buy here.


Then onto a gold and silver merchant and we saw the son of the man who engraved the doors at the King's Palace, at work. Very intricate work but mind numbing, I would think. No thank you - nothing for us to buy here. Mmmmmmmm, this might be becoming a "shopping opportunity / commission tour" for our guide!


Then we drove to the medina, where Abdou dropped us off and we continued on foot with Mohammad.


I wanted to buy a small bottle of perfume as the lid had come off my travelling perfume and soaked into my make up bag (which now smells divine), so we stopped at a perfume shop and I chose j'adour (which is probably not how to spell it) but it was quite light and the girl sold us a small bottle at a very cheap rate.


Then we were dragged into a carpet shop, sat down, plied with mint tea while the carpets were spread before us. No, no, no. Mohammad couldn't believe I was the one saying no. He says that all the ladies say yes, and the husbands say no! Role reversal in our house. No thank you - nothing for us to buy here.


Then we were taken to the silk weaving shop which had some very nice pieces of material, but no thank you - nothing for us to buy here.


By this stage, Mohammad was shaking his head, not believing that we could wander through a medina and buy nothing. He is a very nice guy and speaks good English, albeit a bit fast, and seems to know everyone in the medina. We wandered through the lane ways, taking photos of all sorts of things.

We visited the Tannery which apparently had been featured on Getaway with Catriona Rowntree. On arrival we were given a bunch of mint to hold over our noses as apparently it has a very strong, unpleasant smell. We were on a terrace overlooking the tannery and it did have a smell, but it wasn't all that disagreeable. I felt like I was looking at something from the Middle Ages with huge ponds of hides being soaked and rinsed and dyed. All through the streets of the medina, you see men carrying stacks of dried hides in all different colours, taking them to the factory.


I asked the owner of the shop how much pay these poor people receive and he said they get paid for the amount of work that they do, but on average about $30 AUD a day! How dreadful. It was like slave labour. It is so hot and must be dreadful for them down there.

Meanwhile, Phil is trying on leather belts and Mohammad is negotiating a good price for little leather magic purses for me to buy for the kids in my reading class at Macquarie Primary in Canberra. Deal done and next thing I know I am upstairs, trying on red leather jackets. I kept saying thank you, they are very nice but I really don't need one. Next minute the too long sleeves are pinned up, Phil is paying for it, and it is whisked off to the factory to have the sleeves shortened and they'll deliver it to us while we are having lunch. I don't know how that all happened, but it did.


It is actually the softest leather I have ever felt and weighs nothing. It is lovely and I have tried it on back in the Riad, away from all the noise and bustle of the medina, and like it very much.

Walking to the restaurant for lunch, we passed a mosque and Mohammad asked us if it would be okay for him to go in and pray for about 10 minutes. We were happy to sit in the shade and watch the passing parade, while he went into the mosque.


Next stop is lunch. We said to Mohammad that we only wanted a light lunch. Yes, he said, cooked salad and kebabs. Sounded okay and this is what we were given!!


While we were having lunch, Mohammad took my shoe away to be glued. Mission completed.

During lunch Phil was speaking with the owner of the restaurant about Type 2 Diabetes and when the owner does his blood test, it is only 1 to 3 and Phil told him that 6 to 8, is the limit and that he doesn't have Type 2 Diabetes at all. All of a sudden they became best buddies!


We came out the other end of the medina at about 4 pm. We had walked from top to bottom, which is about 5 kms, but you don't realise you are walking that far because of all the things to see. We often passed other tour groups, but they seemed to be walking from the bottom to the top - all up hill - so we were very glad that Mohammad was walking us mostly down hill.

Abdou was waiting for us in the car and drove Phil to an automatic teller as Phil, who usually pays with the card, had had to use cash to pay for lunch and Mohammad for the magic purses, and was running out of money, and had nothing to give Mohammad as a tip. We suspect that the leather shop would pay him quite a bit commission for taking us in there in the first place.

Had a little rest and caught up on some blogging before dinner.

We booked a table for dinner, outdoors near the pond and it was just lovely. Tonight is a lot cooler than last night and there is a pleasant breeze blowing. Sitting under a Moroccan sky, with gentle music playing in the background and the sound of water trickling is a lovely way to enjoy a very pleasant dinner.


We received our complimentary gaspacho orange soup with beetroot and olive paste snacks.


Then we shared an entree of fish, cheese and meat spring rolls.


Then Phil has the Bass that I had last night and I had Ravioli, stuffed with ricotta and with a tomato sauce. They were both really nice.


For dessert Phil had a chocolate fondant thing and I had Creme Brulee. Both were yummy. As usual, we were the only ones in the restaurant and the others are just starting to roll in now as we are leaving!


Early night tonight as we are leaving for Erfoud tomorrow at 9 am.

Posted by gaddingabout 13:58 Archived in Morocco

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