, FEZ... Of all the places we visited on our tour of Morocco, it was here that I felt that this is what I came here for! If you’re traveling to Morocco, don’t miss out on Fez!
We stayed in a 5-room guest house on the Blue Gate side of the huge medina, the Medina al Kadina. A totally surreal scene unfolded before our eyes when we knocked on the door, and it was opened by a kindly, smiling figure from centuries ago. I’ve been to plenty of hotels in my time, but this takes the biscuit – in terms of the place, the city, and even the country. And what fabulous hospitality! Unique on the whole trip.
Of course, that night, we headed out into the heart of the medina! I mean... wow. It has to be seen to be believed. Madness squared! When we arrived at the train station, a scam taxi driver tried to latch onto us and even tried to shake hands with the women in our group. Totally inappropriate behavior in Morocco, and he got nothing for his efforts.
The next morning the hotel organized a guide for us, which is ABSOLUTELY INDISPENSABLE if you want to see the medina by day. Of course, he tried to persuade us to pay for a few extra sights, but we’re experienced travelers, and it was fine. The cost of the tour was 400 dirhams (about 45 USD). If you want to see Fez, you definitely need someone who knows the city! He took us to a copper workshop, a tannery, a carpet weaver’s, etc. It was great! (b.v. 2017)
“Fez is interesting because it has the world’s largest medina or old town. There are several thousand streets or rather alleys, and no map shows them all, so it isn’t advised to go exploring after dark – you’ll never find your way back! It’s not so scary here as elsewhere – like Rio, for instance, where if the GPS leads you astray, you risk being attacked in a favela. Here it’s safe to get lost in the labyrinth: all you have to do is ask a local to lead you out – remember to give a tip! On the other hand, everything is closed at night, and there’s nobody to give directions.
During the day, practically half the city turns into a giant marketplace, where merchants pull their wares through the streets on big carts or the backs of donkeys and shouting ‘balak, balak, balak! (caution)’ At such times it’s advisable to duck out of the way because you’re liable to be hit by an oncoming donkey. It’s impossible to visit Fez and miss out on the tannery, even if the stink of it will likely turn your stomach. The bazaar districts all have different themes, so there’s a street of carpet weavers, other goldsmiths, or spice merchants, or leather goods shops.
It’s possible to hire a guide for the whole day – you can ask for a reliable guide at the hotel, and it costs about 300 dirhams (about 34 USD). If you want a tannery guide, you can get one for around 50 dirhams (about 6 USD). Elsewhere you don’t really need local knowledge to explore the city.