20,000 leagues under the sky, 2004- travel blog

Royal Palace

Palace Gates


Medina gate

Watching flocks




More ruins


Nouvelle Ville

The world

I can't say that I really enjoyed my first day in Fes, because I didn't. I was still tired from the long trip of the previous day, this made me irritable and that's not the best mood to be in in Morocco. Not having a guidebook, nor map, no tourist information nd most signs and directions in Arabic only didn't help. My main priority was finding a guidebook, I thought my best bets would be either a major bookshop in the Nouvelle Ville or a second hand one in the Medina. I had no idea where the medina was but one think nearly every Moroccan city shares in common are the names of the 2 main streets, Hassan II and Mohammed V, the names of the two previous Kings. I was staying just off Mohammed V and explored the area around there first but there were no major shops. I went along to Hassan II and had a 50:50 choice of direction, I went south - nice street, lots of flowers, fountains and big hotels but no shops and no Medina. I turned around, backtracked and headed north, well there's the Mac shop, would have been rude not to, then further down the road the palace and Medina.

I didn't get far into the medina, technically I didn't get into the medina at all as the hasstle got to me in the Mellah, the Jewish quarter outside and I headed back to the new town. This time I went the other way along Mohammed V and found all the shops, 4:30 in the afternoon before I discovered the main shoppping area. I tracked down a copy of LP Morocco but I had to pay heavily for it as it was the latest english edition and I didn't fancy relying on the less expensive French version. Extending my record I had an alcohol free boxing day too, I'll give up smoking and get religion next.

Day two was entirely different, my old force field returned and as I entered the Medina touts, hustlers and the like just bounced of me and gave up within seconds. Fes medina is, according to Fesidians the oldest and biggest in the world. I walked a good way in and it certainly is huge but I wasn't that impressed with the usual tat on display. To be fair to the stall holders of Fes, 95% of the shops in 95% of the medina are there for the locals not the tourists. After finding my way back out again I decided to walk around the walls and see if I could find any good viewpoints. Just past the main bus station a road led up to some ruins on a hill and from this vantage point I got a greqt view of the medina as a whole as well os some beautiful countryside.

That evening as I was walking around near the central market in the Nouvelle Ville, I happened across a small alcohol shop. Buying a small bottle of vodka there was a deliciously seedy feeling. The look on the main guys face was very disapproving of the sordid people who buy booze in his shop, the wrapping in newspaper and hiding in black plastic bags was left to his minnions once he had the cash.

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