Medinas, masoleums, mosques.......

Trip Start May 12, 2005
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Trip End May 14, 2006


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Tuesday, March 7, 2006

Meknes

- fantastic train ride from marrakech, atlas mountains provided a magnificent backdrop as we trundled north, arrived about 4 in the afternoon.

- one of the imperial cities (marble from palaces in marrakech used in some of the buildings in meknes).

- stayed at the hotel maroc; nice rooftop, okay room.

- had a wander through the medina first night; lots going on, camel meat, great kofta sangers, olives...

- nice little nooks and crannies, lots of kids.

- had an early night after a really good tajine in a little local place.

day two

- clare had mystery stomach cramps....lazy day resulted.

- mark went out for a stroll in the morning...through the medina and towards some of the imperial city landmarks; had a run in with some young fellas who wanted money for giving directions, bit unpleasant but very much an isolated incident, most people were very hospitable.

- sardines and soup for lunch, clare had something nice and plain and mustered up some energy to head out for the afternoon.

- visited the stunning mausoleum of Moulay Ishmael, beautiful calming yellow.

- strolled the length of the old wall towards the royal palace, had a squiz from the outside.

- same place for dinner, another pretty early night....

Fes

- another easy train ride, beautiful rural setting...train travel in morocco really is very cruisey.

- also an imperial city of morocco; probably the biggest in fact.

- big of a trek with packs from the train station, decided to stay outside of the medina in the new part of town (just spending one night here, didn't feel like all the hassle of the medina).

- colossal medina...... 9,400 streets/alleys, 300,000 inhabitants, 345 neighbourhoods (each with its own mosque, baths and school)....only one day to explore it so we decided to enlist the help of a guide (something we don't normally do).

- our 'guide', Abdullah, was an interesting fella, but in the end we got our money's worth.

- stacks to see; mosques, alleyways, carpet shops, old hotels, tanneries, different souqs (quarters), marketplaces....

- had a very ancient and authentic feel to it; some of the souqs (quarters) dated back to the 10th -11th century, ie. for the last 1,000 years dudes made copper pots in these three streets....

- continuity.....

- 'BALLACK!!!!' means get out of the way, laden donkey coming through....

- went into the courtyard of an original 15th centaury hotel (Fes was always a crossroads/trading centre), the pack animals had stables downstairs, the drivers and traders occupied the upper levels, if you tried hard enough, it wasn't too hard to transpose these images....

- ducked into a carpet showroom, another magnificent courtyard hotel done up to sell carpets...the only problem was that we weren't buying any carpets.

- got some great views over the tanneries.

- finished the tour, headed out to the main square; little like marrakech; food stalls, storytellers, monkeys, musicians... and it was all building as the sun set... we munched on our bag of scrumptious strawberries....

- finally up the hill where a field of old tombs keep watch over the medina; fantastic view of the whole immense scene...

- great dinner at the same restaurant we munched lunch at, grilled meats, soup, salad, bread, sauces... standard moroccan fare.

- early night, onto Chefchaoun in the riff mountains (due north between fes and the coast)... easy bus ride, great scenery, unbelievably tasty koftas for lunch (a restaurant and a butcher in one, not great for ones' appetite, but usually a good sign).
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