Medina

Fez was my favorite (inside the medina)

If you want to visit a city that has everything, go to Fez. The old city can be pretty overwhelming but it’s a fantastic place to take a seat at an outdoor cafe and people-watch. There are over 10,000 small shops in the medina, and they are all trying to get you inside, so it’s best to tour this city with a guide. The guide will keep store owners from pestering you and keep you from getting lost. After we walked for about two minutes I had no clue how to get back to our hotel. We had professor from the university give us a 6 hour tour for about $50 total.

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We never would have been able to find this stunning 700 year-old Madrasa (religious school) if we didn’t have a guide.

The thing that I found most incredible about this building is that all the decorations are verses from the Koran. Could you imagine studying something for hours each day and then seeing it in the wallpaper of your house, and in the patterns on your carpets? Talk about full-immersion.

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Any building with a green roof is a religious place. Fez is known as the green city because it’s the religious capital of the country.

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Fez is also known for its intricate tile mosaics.

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The Medina is constantly under repair because it’s so old. Half the ally ways look like this.

No trip to Fez is complete without a visit to the leather factory. They are still making leather the way they have for thousands of years. The men cover themselves in oil and jump right into the dyes with the leather. Since they use ingredients like pigeon poo, and donkey piss it smells pretty nasty.

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Full disclosure, this was the reason why I wanted to go to Morocco.

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They give everyone a sprig of mint to mask the order of rotting flesh and feces. It’s surprisingly effective!

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The soggy fur on the ground will be used for mattress filler.

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The hillsides are covered with drying leather skins. That’s what those red and white patches are.

It’s funny how even after you see how gross leather making is you still feel compelled to buy some leather. I ended up getting this pretty green number:

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My new leather coat from Fez!

In the next post I’ll show you some pictures from our visit outside of the medina.

 

It starts in Marrakesh

I’m back from my honeymoon in Morocco and tanner than ever! I will post some stories about our wedding as soon as I get the official pictures from our photographer, but in the meantime, I’ll let you in on some of the amazing adventures from our honeymoon.

2013-03-04 10.52.14As custom, they served us with mint tea as soon as we arrived at our hotel. She first poured one glass and put that aside. Then she poured two more glasses and threw those out because supposedly they’re too bitter. Then she poured the original glass back into the pot and added that entire pile of mint. We had A LOT of mint tea in Morocco, but that was definitely the finest.

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I was obsessed with the copper sink in our bathroom and the deep blue walls. Our hotel was a perfect introduction to Moroccan aesthetics.

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We even had our own terrace, complete with matching sombreros.

2013-03-04 10.48.22We could have spent the whole day in our serene suite, but there was an old Medina (an ancient walled in city) to explore.

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In the main square, we were immediately attacked by snake charmers who draped all their nasty snakes all over us.

2013-03-04 11.53.55We had to pay them just to get the snakes off of us. YUCK! I could even see a mouse shaped lump in one of them.

2013-03-04 12.38.10The market place, known as a Souk, was crowded and intense. Don’t be surprised to see half a butchered cow hanging next to necklaces and scarves. You can find anything you need within arm’s reach. Morocco’s really a place to go if you love shopping, but you need to be comfortable bargaining. I never paid more that an eighth of the original price they gave me. Our tour book said they hike the prices up the highest for American and Japanese tourists.

2013-03-09 13.53.37The main square was filled with snail soup kiosks. The smell is intoxicating. We had a small bowl before dinner. I’ve never had snails before, and it was a little hard to get past their little faces, but I got over that pretty quickly because they were so delicious.

2013-03-09 14.46.53Next, we had dinner in the middle of the square. I’ve never had a dining experience quite like this. It’s a maze of little bbq stands and the waiters will actually block you so you can’t go past them when choosing which one to go to. They will put the menus right in front of your face, or grab your arm. Then if you say no, they curse you out. We went through the stands twice before we couldn’t handle the harassment any further and sat down in the closest empty seat. We had tajines (meat and vegetables cooked in a traditional clay pot), coke and olives, for a grand total of $4.

2013-03-09 15.12.39Marrakesh doesn’t really come alive until after sun set. There are tons of street performers, snake charmers, henna artists, and trained monkeys. It can be a little overwhelming to be in the middle of it, but it’s really entertaining to watch it all from a terrace view (while drinking mint tea).

If you visit Marrakesh make sure to stay in the old medina. I loved our hotel, Riad Ajebel, and the owner was incredible (more about her in the next post). The walls of our hotel were built in the 11th century! Marrakesh was like a living museum. We spent three nights here (we traveled during the day), but that was definitely a good taste.