Fes was very different after coming from Marrakesh. We had become accustomed to the comfort of our cheap and cheerful Riad Massin and came to Fes with expectations of accommodation very similar to that of Marrakesh. What we did not know was how different they would be. Fes was far more chaotic, loud and accommodation far more grubby. The surroundings were nothing like the organised feel of Marrakesh, which for some was daunting but for others it felt like Fes had a charm of it’s own. We stayed close to our accommodation when in Fes because it was busier, people tried to sell stuff to you so it got claustrophobic if you stayed out too long. Also the streets were more steep and hilly than the flat landed Marrakesh.
When times got stressful we found a haven, a place of solice in ‘Clock Cafe’ in that it was close, Clean, and had indoor and outdoor seating free from the chaos of the streets. We did have to pass a hectic meat market to get inside though, which in the summer heat was quite disgusting. One did not want to look at the meat for you fear that that’s the meat you were eating. The streets were filled with loud but smiley Moroccans until late evening when we were warned to stay off the streets due to fights. Ramadan is hard for muslims but even more so this year for the Moroccans had to do without food and water in peak August. This meant that anger was at it’s peak and hour or two before dinner, when locals could no longer take the hunger and heat.
We stayed in the cool, light and modern establishment of Cafe Clock, feasting on our fresh juice and Camel Burgers. Yes, a Camel Burger. In texture abit heavier than the average beef burger but also packed with flavour. We enjoyed many a days and nights here.
In the evening they had musicians, the had workshops, classes, and even cookbooks. It was a lovely place to eat, drink, and socialise.
It is hard to find as it is through a dark alley. So the first time you go, you may need someone to show you the way.
One of the main attractions I wanted to visit when in Fes were the tanneries. I heard that they were far nicer than the ones in Marrakesh. To find them I was told to walk down hill until someone approached me. The Tanneries are quite hidden amongst other building, accessed via a balcony to watch men at work. We were spotted and asked whether we would like to visit the tanneries. We went up to the balcony where a man explained the process to us.
We were given mint to hold on our nose as some find the leather smells quite strong. After this we were taken to the shop where we were pushed to buy something. Fortunately, I explained I would pay for the talk but not be buying the products, so they kindly accepted this and let us go on our way. I found the smells to not be strong at all whilst my brother said he felt sick. The tannery we visited was the oldest in the city. The tannery was composed of numerous stone vessels filled with a vast range of dyes and various odorous liquids. The man explained the way in which the hides (skins) of sheep and goats, turning them into high quality leather products such as bags, coats, shoes, slippers and other similar products. This is all achieved manually, without the need for modern machinery and with the use of natural dyes such as saffron and indigo.
After visiting the Tannery we spent a couple of hours walking the market place, filled with different items made in the area. Some of the time was also spent getting lost in Souks, walking down alleys to see where it took us..
It was an a really beautiful city, in some ways far more interesting than Marrakesh, and yet I found myself begging to be taken back to the more relaxed Marrakesh in my third day there. If there is one thing I did enjoy after a good day of sightseeing and exploring, it was having a nice hot Morrocan Meal with some Mint Tea. Mmm..
Admittedly if I went to Morroco again I would go in search of good local food. Being placed in the Medina meant that I only found touristy restaurants that lacked quality. I had wished I had the opportunity to find some good authentic places where the locals dined (though I was told most locals cooked and ate at home). This was my favourite dish whilst there. Funny enough, it was a starter not a main but the chickpeas tasted delicious as did the salad. The heat had me craving fresh food and this was just what I needed.