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An Alien in Spain Visits - Morocco (Fez)

The First night we arrived late and in torrential rain which everyone but us thought was a blessing and were amazed at how big the city was and I was sure we would have considerable trouble finding the AirBnb accommodation we had booked for our stay but the gods were with us.

I stopped and asked a young man if he knew the address and he said he did and said if we let him in the car he would show us the way ! Ok, so my guard was up but why not I'm 6'2" 240 lb and he is 140 lb soaking wet (which he was) and in the back of my 2 door soft top.

My fears were groundless and 20 minutes later he delivered us to the door and declined any payment, you meet some wonderful people on the road. The Riad we were staying in had arranged for us to go for an evening meal in what had once been a palace and the food was delicious and we were even given a discount on the already ridiculously cheap price as the owners of the Riad knew the restaurant owner

I cannot recommend the accommodation "La Maison Maure" (The Moors House), where we stayed the owner and his partner have lovingly restored the Riad to it's fabulous current condition and we both have to say their attention to detail and love of food made our stay special, especially the evening meal they laid on for us on our last night - many thanks and I will return.

Now when I used to hear the word Fez I always thought of Tommy Cooper and his hat but now I have a completely different picture in my head a city of two halves, a new modern city and an old sector trapped in the past with narrow twisting streets with a centre of shops selling everything you could want and a lot you don't, but everyone wants you to look at what they have to offer. The Medina is hundreds of years old and preserved so the outside of the buildings can't have anything done to them apart from falling down so the poorer people live there but I was amazed at the number of satellite dishes up on the roof?

One of the hardest Medina's to negotiate, only on the last day did I have any idea where I was going.

Morocco is one of the best places to buy leather and Berber jewellery at good prices although a cautionary word - Travel books will tell you to use an authorised guide who will charge you to show the sights - "Rubbish". The Guides all take you on a round trip to see places where you are expected to buy the goods from the shops and if you don't give donations to the owners. At the end of the tour you end up in a shop and are expected to buy something at exorbitant prices which I found out later are so high because the guide gets 50% of the sale price - get a local (a lot speak English) to show you the Tannery, ceramic and mosaic places for 10 euros thereby putting the money in the right place (poor locals) and negotiate a lower purchase price instead of making rich guides richer still.

At the top of the list of places to visit is "The Tannery" where families have owned vats for many years and prepare and die the hides that are made into leather goods including very expensive leather coats. The smell is one of the worst you will experience although you will be given a large sprig of mint - inhale deeply and enjoy the experience.

Another must see place is a weaving machine that was invented by the owner of the shop and has awards as this particular weaving machine based on mathematical equations can be adapted to make hundreds of different patterns

Another Art that was amazing to watch was in the Mosaic Factory and although not able to put these in my backpack they will post to anywhere in the world for postage.

Off the Medina is a mosque but amazingly I was forbidden to enter apparently only Muslims are allowed in according to my Guide?

Instead we found a local house that was very old and had some wonderful walls and arches and entertained ourselves there instead.

If you make it to Fez you will here that there is one [place you must visit and that is Cafe Clock and we found it and made friends with two ladies from Oz who we shared a story or two with and arranged to meet later that night to find a niche to have an alcoholic drink or two as there are places where visitors can get a drink legally in this Muslim city just don't get drunk

So when you are wandering around the Medina and you don't have a clue what you want to eat and what anything tastes like seek out "Eat -Berrada Family Restaurant" and you won't be disappointed. They take you in the kitchen and let you try the things they are cooking and you choose what you want before you are taken to your table and the food brought out to you. The father / owner of the cafe is in charge and the place is very popular with locals it was so busy we ended up three floors up before we got a table.

The City of Fez is amazing and I have only scraped the surface with this visit and recommend you to make a visit as I will certainly Return.

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