1 Day in Fes

Stay: Palais Houyam – very nice place, but not super close to the Medina if you don’t have a guide to take you there!

We arrived in Fes late at night and just had a dinner at the hotel since there wasn’t much around us. It was pretty standard meal, but a bit pricey since it was at the hotel.

I asked the man at the hotel for an extra blanket and he seemed SO confused what I could want an extra blanket for. I told him Issy and I preferred not to share then he ended up letting us move to a room with two twin beds instead 😂

Here was a cool pic of our first room though! Very intricate ceilings

We had a later start the next morning- 8:30am (for breakfast). Our room is right next to a mosque though so the call to prayer at 6am was VERY loud and definitely woke me up for a bit.

Breakfast was a huge array of food once again! Mostly bread like items, but he also made all of us a mini omelet, which was really yummy!

Our guide picked us up at 9:30- we had a different guide than our normal guide that drove around with us. This guide was named Jamal and he was very knowledgeable and had some pretty good jokes in there!

We started off the tour by stopping at a landmark on top of the hill. I really cannot remember what the building was now, but we had some nice views of the Medina of Fes!

We then drove to the old Jewish quarter. I guess way back when Morocco was one of the only countries that let the Jews in without any persecution (although eventually they did basically all move to Israel). They were also filming the new Indiana Jones movie there, which was pretty cool! We didn’t see much besides some cameras but still.

The Jewish quarter is also the only area where they have outward facing balconies. In the Medina the King mandated all buildings look the same from the outside (no windows or anything) so there was no way to segregate rich from poor. You could only tell how rich someone was after you were invited into their home and could see how big their courtyard was lol. The sizes of homes from small to big were- Dar, Riad, and Palace!

We also learned that when Moroccans get married they have to give their wife a big gold belt and 7 gold bracelets! I guess the wife can sell their belt if they want and keep the cash 😂

Can you see the giant gold belt in the top of the picture??

After our quick trip to the Jewish quarter, we went to a textile factory. We were shown the different steps used in making mosaic tables and such. It’s all handmade and very detailed! Here’s a man hammering a design into a vase!

Most of the items were a bit out of my price range, but it was cool to see everything. Once we finished, we were finally off to the Medina! The Medina is huge and would be super hard to explore on your own cause it’s not really mapped out and just a bunch of tiny streets and shops all over. I would’ve definitely gotten lost without our guide. The guide also provided so many interesting facts/explained some of the random things we walked by so it was definitely worth it to have a guide. For example, we learned doors have two door knockers- one for family/close friends and one for everyone else. The knockers sound different so the family can know if a woman of the house can answer the door without covering up (if it’s family).

Some of the alleyways have wood beams between the buildings because the area is so old that the buildings are slowly leaning into each other! And some of the alleyways were tiny!

You can’t really see the chickens behind the man in this picture, but this stall you could pick an ALIVE chicken and the man would kill it for you and take the feathers off!

The Medina is divided into two parts from a river- I’m not actually sure which side of the river we were on most of the time though lol

In the Medina we went to a rug shop, a fabric/scarf shop, and a leather shop. Each gave a little presentation of how they made their products and were all super friendly about buying/not buying things. The leather shop was right by the tanneries, which is where they soak all the leather hides to 1) remove the hair, 2) clean them, and 3) dye them. The tanneries can smell really bad (because they use pigeon poop as the acid to remove the hair lol). I didn’t think it was too bad, but they gave us mint leaves to smell to help!

Here’s a picture of all the different steps from above to soak the hides!

During the tour we also stopped at an old high school created by the king way back when. To get into the school you had to memorize the ENTIRE Quran. Not sure how anyone actually went there. But the king made this really beautiful and intricate school from where a dumpster used to be. It’s said he did this because he married a prostitute and then would tell people anything / anyone can become something else from a dumpster.

The school also had a mosque that was no longer in use so you can go in. It wasn’t super big but apparently mosques are required to have two non-muslim things so they usually have some stain glass windows (Christian) and the star of David on the wooden divider (Jewish). He said Muslims can also marry Christains and Jews, which was pretty interesting!

Here’s some of the stain glass in the mosque!

The tour lasted until around 5pm- long day! We went back to the hotel and rested for a bit before going to a grocery store for some snacks, water, and wine and then to a place for dinner! The dinner place had camel burgers so that was something different- they were ok but mostly just tasted like a burger.

We ended the night with some wine at the hotel.

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