Fez is a large Moroccan city. It has been dubbed “The Mecca of the West” and “Africa’s Athens.” It’s a fascinating area with what is thought to be the world’s largest urban pedestrian zone. Thousands of cramped “streets” little wider than a person can be found throughout Fez’s medinas. It’s a simple area to get lost in, and it’s where my mother and I stayed for two nights..
After a long bus travel from Chefchaouen, my mother and I arrived in Fez. Someone approached us as soon as we arrived and offered to be our guide. I was cautious because I was afraid of being conned or robbed, but the guy gave off a positive aura, so we decided to follow him. We negotiated the guide’s cost on the way to our accommodation. He stated that he did not want to be paid till the conclusion of our journey. He dropped us off at our hotel and said he’d be back in a few hours to pick us up.
The Riad where we stayed was fantastic! I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. It appeared to be a door in a wall from the outside. It could have easily been a one-bedroom shack. The inside of the building, though, was like a small palace once we were allowed in. This is the Riad, and a night’s stay costs $60 at the time of writing. If you ask me, I think it’s a terrific deal.
It was light and airy on the inside. The building’s embellishments and flourishes were stunning. Our accommodation was on the second floor and was really nice. We headed outside after getting cleaned up and met up with our guide.
Our tour guide led us to an old cemetery with a view of the city.
The vista of the city is difficult to photograph. It’s enormous and densely packed with millions of small structures. It appears to be a large mass of blocks in the photos. It was incredible in person. The call to prayer began, and the various mosques began their calls at different times, a few seconds apart. It was a weird experience.
The gate’s tile work and detailing were fantastic.
It appeared that we had the entire park to ourselves because it was a vast park. We got back in the car and drove to the next location after taking a few shots.
We went to a hilltop fort with another spectacular view of the city.
We then visited a tile and pottery factory. It was a lot more interesting than I had anticipated. The desserts they were preparing appeared to be delicious. All of the patterns on the dishes are unique and have a cool flair.
Our guide led us to a small tea shop on the outskirts of town after we had seen a lot of sights. It was a lovely and peaceful spot to sit and watch the sun set.
We returned to the city when the sun fell and dined at a nice roof-top restaurant in a lovely hotel. Dinner was a delicious tagine, a Moroccan delicacy. I’d be sick of tagine by the time we got to the end of the trip. It’s delicious meal, but it was served to us in every restaurant we visited in Morocco.
Tagine is a stew cooked in a clay pot. It usually contains a lot of meat and veggies, as well as a lot of spices. It’s fantastic. However, this isn’t true for every meal.
We had scheduled a culinary class for the next day. We went to the medina market to buy ingredients and then taught how to prepare tagine.
The class was a terrific way to spend the morning and was a lot of fun. Following the class, we met up with our guide and went on another tour of the area. We were becoming a little bored of travelling from place to place at such a fast pace by this point.
We were also beginning to notice the game being played. The guides earn money by escorting tourists to stores where they can purchase goods. Purchases earn the guides a commission. Our tour guide was upset that we didn’t want to go to the tanneries. When our guide realized we weren’t going to buy any rugs or high-value stuff, I believe he lost patience with us.
We then moved on to tour the medinas, which was a fantastic experience. I don’t think a foreigner could traverse the streets without a guide because the place is such a maze. Google Maps was a complete sham, with just approximately 10% of the streets mapped.
The way the structures are layered on top of one another is incredible. I also liked how some buildings, such as the one above, were built around the road.
For tea, we went to our guide’s uncle’s house. I really like the kitchen in the photo above. It seemed strange to be there, as though we didn’t understand why he brought us there, yet it was interesting to see an ordinary house in the medina.
The insides of the buildings are large, wide, and spacious, despite how congested and claustrophobic the streets are.
This child began yelling at us. Probably for the purpose of capturing photographs. He was warned to shut up by our guide.
We informed our guide that we were interested in doing a desert excursion. He drove us to a hotel and introduced us to someone who could help us schedule a trip. We expected a travel agent, but it was just a guy with a laptop and a Trip Advisor account. Hah! He was, nonetheless, a good salesman. I believe he was affiliated with the tour firm and was only using Trip Advisor to display images and positive reviews.
We came up with a pricing that was a little high, but not unreasonably so. We gave him a deposit and he promised to pick us up in the morning in front of our hotel.
Our guide drove us to our hotel, where we paid our money.
My mother and I checked out of our hotel the next morning and went outside to await our new guide. After roughly 15 minutes of standing there, my mother stated, “You know what, we never gave that guy our names last night.” I started to have a terrible feeling in my stomach. It appeared that we had been duped out of a few hundred euros. I was very embarrassed! I’d been traveling in Europe for months,
I did a lot of study on scams and made sure I was never a victim of one. I’d make light of the hustlers attempting to pick my pockets and shut down the ladies hawking fortunate plants as if it were nothing. Now I was in Africa, being conned like a fool on his first trip away from home.
Then a man approached and asked, “Are you guys on the tour?” Yes! It had been our tour guide! We piled into the car and drove away. We’d be driving across Morocco with him for the next few days. It was fortunate that he was a friendly young man who seemed to know a lot about the locations we were visiting.
Watch for tomorrow’s update as we journey over the Atlas Mountains to the Sahara Desert and beyond!