18.10 – Monday
Woke up early to go for the last little walk around the medina of Chefchaouen. The streets were nice and quiet. You could see only locals, mostly kids going to school and some shop owners opening their business for the tourists, still tucked away in their beds. The sun was slowly going up, lighting the little pathways with it’s shining beams. Funnily enough we got lost as we were trying to go back to the hotel. We needed to pick up our bags, since we were already running a bit late to meet the Polish girls. And we thought we knew medina a bit already! All of a sudden we found ourselves not only walking unfamiliar streets but also ended up on a fairly big square with a fountain we had no idea about. Well, it turned out that Chefchaouen’s medina isn’t that small and predictable as we thought in the first place. At that point I wished we could stay there a bit longer.
Around 10:00 we were ready to go. After haggling with a taxi driver, who at first offered to take us to Fes for 900DH, we managed to settle the price at 700DH. The most important thing was: we were on our way. Sitting with Rhys in the front on one seat was fun until one of my but cheeks fell asleep, my leg was totally cramped and I completely ran out out of possible positions to sit. The views kept us entertained to the moment I heard a strange noise coming from the back of the old Mercedes Benz. Surprise, surprise – we had a flat tire! Although our taxi friends didn’t quite agree with me, I considered it a blessing in a disguise. At least we could get out and spread our legs, while out taxi driver sweated to get the wheel changed. As it was for me, I managed to wake up my butt just in time we were ready to go again. We all hoped we won’t loose another tire or struggle to break at some point, since the replacement was pretty bold, to say the least. It needs to be mentioned that our driver didn’t belong to those, who drive carefully. Actually at that point I was quite sure, that there isn’t even such a thing as safe driving, when it comes to Morocco. Nevertheless, we continued our grand taxi adventure for about another hour or so, luckily without any additional troubles, until we finally reached Fes.
Finding a place to stay the night in Fes was a bit of an adventure. We walked, asked, looked, walked some more and then asked some more… At some point girls lost patience and went back to where we have started. Me and Rhys continued walking, hoping that people, who have been telling us, that the closer to the medina, the less is there and the ore expensive it gets, were simply wrong. After being dragged to some really dodgy places, getting lost and being tired we finally admitted: it was us who was wrong. We walked back to Bab Boujeloud and settled for a room worth 120 DH a night for both of us. To be honest it was far (far far far) from being decent, but we just couldn’t be bothered anymore. “It’s just for one night” – said Rhys looking at me a bit unsure if I can manage. “We will sleep in our sleeping bags” – he added to reassure me even more. I was fine. It was manageable. Whatever.
After dropping our bags off we went for a more relaxed stroll. The souks of Fes are small, narrow, dirty and full of people. In shop by shop all the way down the Rua Talaa Kebira you could find almost anything. Mostly junk to be honest. What we haven’t expected was that at some point between a food shop and a shoe shop someone will drag us into a tannery. Weird, smelly and obviously dirty. Skins hanging and lying all over the place as well as tonns mud and loads of crap. The guy, who walked us around told us how this and that is done. It surely was interesting, just a bit too real for me. In the end he asked for money, so we gave him some change and left quite relieved.
Fes is definitely very different from Tangier and even more different than Chefchaouen. It wasn’t pretty there. The city surely is very historical (meaning old really) and one thing is certain – you WILL get lost. We did. It wasn’t hard, considering the amount of tiny, narrow streets woven into a tight djellaba-like pattern. After a couple of right turns and a few more left turns we found ourselves even more lost. This time somehow managed to leave the medina not knowing at all where we were. Some time later we were back on track walking up Rua Talaa Kebira again. It was getting dark and I was getting hungry. Suddenly we saw a sign saying “Thami’s Rstaurant”. We decided to give it a go, since we read so much about it on lonelyplanet.com. As usual we already had our hopes up and our expectations rose even higher after some tasty lentils with some sort of potato pancakes. We ordered fresh orange juice, soup to start, a pastilla (a sweet and savory flaky pastry filled with pigeon) for Rhys and a vegetable couscous for me. The soup let us down completely, but my couscous portion was massive! Very tasty, especially the raisins, which were sweet and tasted a bit like wine. Rhys didn’t enjoy his pastilla as much as he expected, but all in all I considered the meal a good choice. Couldn’t finish my couscous though! Way too much.
As it got completely dark we got back to our hotel played some travel scrabble and came up with a plan for the next couple of days. We decided to go to Meknes, stay the night there and on Wednesday go to Volubilis to see the famous ruins. Until tomorrow I decided not to leave my sleeping bag and hoped no mouse will visit us at night.