Fascinating Fes

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Like the rivalry between Barcelona and Madrid, I imagine Fes and Marrakech have something along the same lines.  Depending on who you ask it’s one or the other and while I usually try to stay away from comparing cities I have to say that I liked Fes a lot more than Marrakech.  With the one day I spent in Marrakech being sufficient, the three nights on the other hand in Fes didn’t feel like enough.  Maybe my time in Marrakech was like when you first step into an ice cold shower, shocking at first, but slowly you get use to it, so by the time I got to Fes my mind and body were already accustomed to Morroco.  Or maybe, it’s because Fes is just slightly less chaotic and a little more beautiful than Marrakech.  In Fes you could actually walk through the souk without constantly being bombarded and yelled at by the vendors and every time you stopped to take a picture there wasn’t someone coming up to you saying “give me money if you want to take a picture in front of my shop”.  Fes also has two hills on either side of the old town which provide for a nice panorama of the city and the surrounding landscape.  To me, Fes has more to offer.

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After our 9 hour taxi ride we arrived to Fes around 5:30pm.  I didn’t have a hostel because I arrived a day earlier than I thought and the hostel I had booked was full, so I went to the one Kevin and Ryan were staying at.  The hostel called Riad Vinus was the most beautiful hostel I’ve ever stayed in.  It is a converted Moorish townhouse with an almost museum-like interior, intricate wooden sculptures and typical ornate wall carvings decorated the main courtyard.  Unfortunately it lacked bathrooms. Later that night we met up with the two Germans and we all had our first camel burger.

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The next day, I spent the early morning wandering the souk.  Hardly any of the shops were open and I found a tranquility I didn’t think was possible.  Kids were going to school and people were making their way to work.  It was nice to see this aspect of everyday life within the city, to experience the realness and flow of the early morning.  Nobody looked at me like a tourist, nobody tried to take advantage of me, the hustle and bustle that can be found later in the day had not yet started.  Around 9:30am I made my way back to the hostel to have breakfast and to meet Kevin and Ryan.  Ryan had also explored the souk that morning, but had less luck getting back and ended up having to pay a “guide”.  We then made our way to the other hostel I was staying at and after many reroutes and detours we finally found it.  The souks are like a labyrinth and if it were not for Kevin having google maps I don’t think we would have ever found it.  Once I was settled we spent the day exploring Fes, we hiked up to the southern gate, one of the viewpoints of the city, made our way to the tanneries where we experienced one of the most nauseating smells, took a reprieve in the stunning Al Attarine Madrasa, met the Germans and hiked to the northern gate to watch the sunset and then had dinner at a beautiful and delicious restaurant called the Ruined Garden. I’ll have one more day in Fes,  but I’ll spend it taking a day trip to the Roman city of Volubilis.

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