Upon arriving at the train station in Fes, we followed our host’s instructions and sought out a cab. Our host had told us how much the cab ride would cost so when the first cab driver quoted a price that was five times more, we told him no and moved on. He relented, agreed to our price, and drove us.
This should have been our first sign.
Once we arrived at the entrance to the medina, we waited for our guide to the Riad. To this day, we’re not exactly sure what happened. My husband handed over the fare but the driver was preoccupied having a heated conversation with a man who was standing on the street. As we’re making our way out of the cab, the man reaches through the window and punches our cab driver. Just then, our escort arrives and we hastily get our bags and follow him through the maze of the medina.
A few minutes later, a man runs up behind us yelling in Arabic. Our escort tells us that he is saying that we did not pay the cab fare. We assure him we did and the man – who was not even our cab driver – finally walks away hands in the air, muttering. So began our visit to Fes.
One of 9,000 streets in the 1200 year old city.
Dar Attajali was beautifully renovated but unbearably hot. So hot, my husband could not get any sleep. We were in a large suite of rooms which had several sitting areas, a small kitchenette and a large bathroom. Unfortunately, the room had low ceilings with large wooden beams that dropped even lower. Every now and then as he was pacing at night from the heat, I would hear a bump followed by a slew of words muttered in Spanish. We left Fes ahead of schedule.
The Madrasa Bou Inania was founded in 1350 to serve as both a mosque and Islamic college. The plaque marking its location reads, “The mosque is marked by its fine mihrab, its onyx marble columns, and its elegant minaret overlooking Talaa Kbira Street. Its facades are entirely decorated with mosaics, carved cedar wood and plasterwork.”
Across Talaa Kbira is Dar al-Magana, which is Arabic for “clockhouse.” The structure is what remains of a hydraulic clock which was completed sometime in the mid-1300s.
Bab Boujloud is the main entrance to the medina. The gate is decorated with green zellij on the inside, the color of Islam, and blue zellij on the outside, the color of Fes. According to Wikipedia, zellij is “terra-cotta tile work covered with enamel in the form of chips set into plaster.” Note the view of the minarets as you look into the medina.
Narrow streets. Almost being run over by motorbikes. The calls to prayer.
Beautiful kaftans. Wearing a hijab. The night food market on the main square. Snake charmers.
Throngs of people. Hot mint tea. The mosaics and tile work.
The smell of the tanneries. Our rooms in the Riad. Couscous served in tajines.
Traffic jams consisting of yelling locals, confused tourists, speeding bicycles and donkey-pulled carts.
Freshly squeezed orange juice. The smells of cumin, cinnamon and nutmeg.
Being bathed in a Hammam.
More on Marrakech and Fes coming soon.