Drive to Fez

Trip Start Feb 17, 2010
1
9
17
Trip End Mar 07, 2010


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Where I stayed

Flag of Morocco  , Fès-Boulemane,
Friday, February 26, 2010

We had breakfast and headed out by 8:30 since this drive was expected to be 6-7 hours.  The scenery changed drastically as we entered the Middle Atlas Mountains.  It's strange how different these mountain passes are compared to the ones over the High Atlas.  This was a lot of farmland - very rocky farmland - but very green as we worked our way north.  I guess eventually you get used to stunning beauty but we were still snapping pictures like crazy and saying things like, "wow, look at that" every 10 minutes or so. 

We took a detour so we could go into the forest near Ifrane where Barbary apes live.  Roger casually asked where that was, and before we knew it, Hamid was driving us there.  We stopped at a little stand and Hamid bought peanuts for us to feed to the apes.  We only saw one on the ground, and fed her some peanuts while her 2 babies hid up in the tree branch above us.  Honestly, they were adorable!  Although I'm not a fan of people feeding wild animals like this, it's clear that these apes aren't tame or anything because they were still very afraid of humans.  It was really cool.

We went to Ifrane for lunch.  It's a very odd town - called the Switzerland of Morocco because of the architecture. It was built by the French some years ago as a holiday escape and now it's a popular place for locals to go for vacation or to own a second home (if they're doing really well).  The whole town looks like it could have come directly from Switzerland - A-frame houses, little cafes on the street.  Strange.  The king of Morocco also has a big palace here.  We had a nice lunch and then met Fazia and Thomas from Journey Beyond Travel, the people who organized this amazing vacation for us!  It was really nice meeting them since I felt like they had done such an amazing job putting this all together.

From Ifrane, we had a short drive to see Lake Aoua for a drive around.  It's a huge natural lake but currently there is SO much flooding that a lot of the fields around the lake were covered with water as well.  There were a ton of trees down all around the lake, but people were still there enjoying it. 

Driving into Fez was very interesting.  The huge mansions on the outskirts were surprising, along with the miles and miles of REALLY green grass and orchards.  It could have been home if it weren't for the  somewhat Moroccan architecture of the homes.  Fez has a new city, a middle area and the medina - the old city.  I was frankly suprised to see so many women without scarfs on their heads.  I had assumed that Fez was more traditional, so therefore would have more traditional dress.  I saw many more bare-headed women here than I did in Marrakech.

Hamid dropped us off at a large parking lot outside of the medina because there is no driving at all inside.  Once we got in I could absolutely see why!  The streets are even smaller and windier than Marrakech, and the hills!  Holy cow.  The poor guy with the cart carrying our bags.  I guess at least this way was all down hill instead of the other way, but if he had lost his grip for a second...watch out!  We walked under a lot of scaffolding (holding the buildings up!) and eventually made it to our riad.  Holy crap.  This place is absolutely stunning.  Tara greeted us and gave us the low down on the place and showed us to our room.  Beauty all around.  

We were pretty wiped out so we decided to skip venturing out into the city and just went up on to the roof terrace to lounge with some tea.  The call to prayer was just as awe-inspiring here and we both stopped what we were doing to listen.  Tara came out just as it was happening and it stopped her in her tracks as well.  We started visiting and the next thing we knew, we were all having dinner together and swapping life stories!  She's an absolutely lovely person and although she's only taking care of the riad for her friend currently (the owner isn't here), she does own a house here that is currently being renovated.  She's originally from Wales but currently lives in Barcelona.   She writes travel books (Time Out! for Andalucia of all things in addition to a number of others!!) and does food writing and has even written a cookbook.  We honestly had such a great time talking with her, I'm hoping we stay in touch!  I can't forget to mention that dinner was FANTASTIC, totally vegetarian (yay) and extremely interesting.  We have to remember to look for Jerusalem artichokes at home.  Definitely my best tagine.
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Comments

Lisa on

It is so nice to meet positive people whom inspire us. Tara seems to be that type of person you want to hang around, just like you are Karyn! When will you write a travel book? ;) Photos by Roger, input by you. Just some none Tagine food for thought. I wish I could've seen those Apes!!!

Big Deb G on

OMG!!! Finally just got on line - High wind rain storm hit knocked out power. Roger you look like such a natural on the camel! K get blogging, I feel like I'm right there tasting the articokes with you guys. Go enjoy life and report back every smell, taste, sound and the amazing visual landscape. Was Hamid single??? Love and peace debbie

Al on

I agree with Lisa. You guys should write a book. This blog has been not only inspiring but very nicely written. It has taken my mind from the not so great weather we've been having up here.

Shu Shu on

Just waiting to hear if you made it to the studio riad!! -!-!-!-!

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