My week in the area of Fes

Moroccan beauty- ahh traveling!

So, this blogpost is about my full experience of traveling to Morocco.

I went to Marrakech once with my sister before and this time we went to Fes (and the area around it).

I’ll share with you my traveling secrets and favorite spots that I visited.

We flew to Morocco on Monday evening and we were back home the week after, on Easter Monday.Our Hotel in Fez was a luxurious Riad called Palais Houyam. When arriving at the hotel, we instantly went to the rooftop of the hotel where we found the most stunning view over Fes. We didn’t know that the hotel would have such view but it was a pleasant surprise as you can imagine. The hotel is at the Southern part of Fes, but close to the Medina. It’s a 15 minute walk to go to the blue gate.

The riad has a pool and has different sorts of rooms. All the rooms have great facilities such as a large tv, a large bed, a private bathroom, wifi,…

My parents booked the luxury room and me and my sister we had a regular room. The luxurious room had a bit more facilities than ours but both rooms were stunning. The riad is a palace itself. It used to be a very old riad with original interiors, but it’s renovated recently in 2017. We took like a billion shots inside the hotel, because we liked the interior so much.

On the rooftop, as told before, is the most stunning view over Fes. You can see almost the entire city because the hotel is located at one of the mountains next to Fes. At night, you can see the most stunning sunsets over Fes and the mountains. Right before and after sunset, the Mosque close to the hotel, wishes you a pleasant evening…. With this I mean that you can hear the typical prayers through the speakers of the minaret. You can hear dozens of prayers all over the city and the echoes of it are just priceless. Some of you might find it annoying or too loud, but we loved it because it’s just part of the culture and fun to learn more about it.

What to do and see in Fes?

In Fes, you can walk around for hours in the cosy Medina. If you only want to visit Fes for a long weekend, then 2 days of visiting are sufficient. In the souks you can shop a lot of different things. From souvenirs to leather, to a chicken???, to herbs and fruits,.. We bought a lot of jewelry and a super adorable tea- set. For the glasses, the kettle and the kettle holder, we payed about 25 euros.

The jewelry is often just 1 euro for a pair of earrings or a bracelet.

In the souks you have a billion streets and it’s easy to get lost. Make sure to always bring your map… also a small tip: you don’t have any gps connection on your phone because the streets are too narrow, yay haha! But in all the time that we went there, we only got lost once and after half an hour, we found the right road again, it’s no big deal!

My personal highlights: the different Madrasas. One of them particularly was the most stunning one because you were able to walk around in all the rooms upstairs where you can look at the central square.

There were several ones to see but I remembered this one most. I'm sorry but I can't find the correct name anymore...

After the medersas and the soukhs, you have the central mosques. As a non Islamic, you can’t enter them, but you can take a look at the entrance. I'd really reccomend doing this because the interiors are stunning!

Last but not least: the tanneries. I didn’t want to go visit them because of my vegan state of mind (I don’t want to support the leather industry)… but my family did want to visit it and I didn’t want to wait there all alone… By the way, I didn’t pay them because I didn’t want to get the entire information and I also tried to explain them that I don’t want to buy leather… but yes, I did enter the terrace.

I’m not going into detail about this whole industry because I don’t want to spread hatred but let me tell you this: if you smell and see the tanneries yourself, you probably will understand why I don’t want to support this industry! The smell of death is terrible, the smell of birdpoop even worse (yes, that’s how they color the leather) and the skin of sheep flying around everywhere (with often the head still hanging onto it) is just in my opinion very gross. But once again, I don’t want to spread hatred because it is also a part of the culture there.

Oh and by the way, all the photos on the internet are totally photoshopped, the colors are so NOT vivid in real life! (whoops, sorry).

If you want to get away from all the madness in the souks and maybe just look for some peace, the Jnan Sbil garden is your perfect getaway. A lovely garden with lots of flowers and a small lake, next to the old town.

A secret gem was a palace in our street! It's not supported by the government but a must visit! Just enter the hallway and ask for a payed visit. It's about 3 euros but definitely worth it! The palace is called El Mokri, just search for it in the city! If you want the full Moroccan experience, you can even rent a room!

The last tip is about what I didn't like: the Jewish area. This was my least fave area. It was totally not so typical as the rest of the city and it was nasty too…

What to do and see around Fes?

If the weather is nice, you can go to the mountains to see the wild monkeys. We wanted to do this but the weather was too bad.

So what did we do?

We went to Rabat (2 times!) and went to Volubilis, also two times. We also went to Meknes, but that wasn’t so pretty.

You can go to Meknes and Rabat by train, easily. Meknes is just 30 minutes away from Fes and Rabat max 3hs. If you want to go to Volubilis, you need to take the train to the central station and then go to Volubilis by taxi. A sidenote: there are 2 trainstations in Meknes, a smaller one near the city center and a bigger one further away. If you don't find a train at the city center, then just take a taxi for 1 euro and go to the lager station!

So about Meknes: Meknes is another city of the Moroccan kings but in my opinion not so typical as Fes or Marrakech. I didn’t like it at all. In the souks, they only sold fake branded clothes (in contrast to Fes, where they sold the most gorgeous souvenirs)…

Close to Meknes is Volubilis. An old Roman city in the middle of Morocco. The ruins were stunning and the area and nature there was gorgeous. It was such a tranquil place, a perfect getaway from the city. I felt like I was in Tuscany for a day. I went there 2 times because I loved it so much! (small disclaimer: I was there with my mom first and then the rest of my family came to join us so we wanted to show them all the highlights we liked).

Our driver took us to the small town next to Volubilis; Moulay Idriss, to take a look at the real Moroccan life (without tourists). It was cute to see from the car but I wouldn’t say worthy enough to actually visit it.

Another trip we did twice was Rabat. Rabat is a stunning city with a mix of old and new. The Mausoleum there was just amazing and the sea is beautiful and wild.

What to do in Rabat? Ofcourse, go to the Mausoleum, it is stunning! And then go to the old medina. The old streets are colored in blue and white and it reminded me about the famous blue Moroccan town of Chefchaouan. In the souks they also sell a lot of fun typical stuff such as: bronze, herbs, clothes, tapestry, leather,…

The sea of Rabat is strong, fierce and deep blue. You’ll find a lot of surfers there because of the big waves. I loved it so much. Rabat, another relaxing getaway from busy Fes!

So that was everything we did on our trip to Fes, a week of culture and the combination of relaxing with a lot of things going on (so much to smell, see, hear,…).

Would you go to Morocco one day? Which cities would you visit?

Thanks for reading this blog, happy traveling!

X Steph

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