The Imperial City of Meknes

Trip Start Apr 15, 2008
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Trip End May 04, 2008


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Flag of Morocco  , Meknes,
Thursday, April 24, 2008

Meknes.  It was a fabulous place!  So different from all the other places we had been to so far.  Meknes was much more laid back, relaxed, casual.  And the vendors were hassle-free.


We stayed at Hotel Majestic in the ville nouvelle.  Majestic had lots of atmosphere but, as Udo noted, the beds were like sleeping on your own headstone! 










The breakfasts were good, the breakfast room was enchanting and the breakfast staff were very friendly.













After settling in to the Hotel, we fruitlessly attempted to find a seafood restaurant called Le Dauphin. So, we settled on supper at Le Pub.  The food was good and we had a really nice time together -- Choyce brought the conversation to topics as diverse as creative commons to learning Japanese.











On our first full day in Meknes, we set off via petite taxi to the Medina and wandered the souqs.  Resting in the hot sun to try to figure out where the heck we were, we were chased off by the local constabulary.  We didn't understand why, nor did we ask. 


We managed to successfully traverse a Lonely Planet walking tour of the souqs which began and ended in Place el-Hadim and took us through a number of babs (gates) in and out of the old city.  We meandered through narrow thoroughfares deep in the Medina where only the locals shopped and ate and talked and lived.  We saw what happens with the leftovers from restaurant diners -- when our discards become the primary source of sustenance for others.


































 



For lunch we returned to a terrace restaurant snuggled into an inside corner of Place el-Hamid.  We had a great view of life below in the square. At this time of day life in Morocco tends to be slow.  This day, however, was different.  A national agricultural exposition was being held in Meknes, not far from the magnificent Bab Mansour, upon which we were gazing.  In front of the gate, quite a number of drummers, dancers and acrobats had assembled.  The Bab was closed, police were posted.  King Mohammed VI was in town for the exposition, and his motorcade was about to pass through Place el-Hamid. And, we were fortunate enough to have terrific seats for the show!




















By the way, the food and service were only mediocre. We left a huge tip, but it was for the young woman tending the bathroom.  She had the unenviable job of sitting in the bathroom all day long on a little stool. When she slipped out to take in some of the roadside entertainment for the King, she was quickly shooed back to her 'post' by her boss.







After lunch, and after the midday rest, we visited Dar Jamai Museum, previously a palace built in 1882, and now housing Moroccan arts and artifacts.   Shortly after we entered the museum, one of the staff gave us a personal tour, providing us with many interesting details beyond what we could glean from the mostly French and Arabic faceplates on the exhibits.  He snapped photos of us, and lead us into closed off parts of the palace which had not yet been restored.  In this manner, we saw the yet-to-be restored mosque and hammam (bath).  As well, when no one was looking, he removed the rope barriers in the harem and allowed us to lounge on the cushions, peek in the sleeping quarters, and enjoy the view from the windows.






































Though quite warm outside, we walked from the Medina back to our Hotel. 






For supper we went to a small restaurant on a side street behind our hotel which we had spotted on an earlier scouting expedition to the train station.  We all had furiously funny spaghetti and Wendy was immensely entertained by the hookahs which were being served to nearby tables.






Another high point of the day?  Clean laundry!  Like heaven!
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