First time in the African continent, never have I thought to venture into this continent so soon. But thanks to the girls for pulling me into this, I seriously would never have thought to visit Morocco as the last trip of 2017!
One week in Morocco was definitely not enough, but since when has a week in a country ever been? This just meant we had to be strategic on where we decided to go and here’s a look at the first city we decided to arrive first: Fes
One day in Fes was certainly not enough but we managed to squeeze in a couple of activities within a day. I’m pretty impressed with Jade Tour. First pitstop was visiting the infamous tannery!
Not my favorite place to inhale “fresh air” but it was interesting to learn how our leather stuff were made. Different skins different textures different pricing. Definitely did some damage to my wallet on the first day!
Next stop: Ceramic/Pottery. This is starting to be a lost art among the moroccans as the younger generation look to better jobs. I do hope that this will keep going because nothing beats handmade, hand-drawn and hand-painted ceramic pieces. These are the best souvenirs to bring home (tagines, teapots and teacups etc). Just be prepared to bring a larger suitcase.
Headed up to the first city view:
Not exactly sure where this is but the view was spectacular. Fes isn’t big but it isn’t small either. You can’t find the old and the new but it’s all within Mother Nature. The massive amount of nature from this vantage point was nothing I’ve seen before.
I wasn’t sure how to approach this but out of courtesy I asked if I could take a photo of these 2 pretty girls. They did sort of followed us along the way after we got out of the car, but that’s partly because I said hi first when they met my eyes. After taking their shot, I showed them what I took and they said in the only few english words they know “beautiful”. How adorable. One of them decided to give me a silver ring as a token of friendship, how kind of her, despite me refusing it. I can only humbly accept it 🙂
Next up: the palace entrance. Now I finally know where all these amazing beautiful instagram shots of the arched doors came from. I’m really amazed seeing these upclose. If they had to create these ceramic tile by hand, including drawing and painting, I’m on all knees saluting these artists.
Next and last stop: Gorgeous view of the city from Borj Nord and the Merenid Tombs
The great thing about coming up here during sunset is hearing the prayers stream across the speakers. It’s no wonder they call this the “Spiritual Capital of Morocco”. Prayers come on in the morning, afternoon and in the evening. But hearing this while enjoying the sunset was a whole other experience. Even you would start to feel faith and hope running through your blood.
Here’s a not so pleasant photo for those who may think this is animal abuse, but it really isn’t. You may be an advocate for animals, but you have to understand that there are certain cities in the world, coupled with the original city architect and the limitations of the human body, sometimes animals will need to be used to work. But nonetheless, this is a pretty common site within the medina.
- Do plan to spend at least 2 full days. 1 to see all the sites as I’ve seen above, and the other day to spend some time visiting the market and exploring the medina.
- Only GSM phones work in this country. Go get a local sim card. It’s really cheap. Great internet service (especially roadtripping through the mountains and deserts but not in the desert) with talktime for about 50MAD. Most definitely helpful when you need to Google Map the medina in case you get lost.
- Do purchase souvenirs from the local places when you go. They may seem slightly expensive but your purchases help the local community here. You have seen that these are all handmade and no other mass production machines around.
- Money Exchange: If you can wait to get into the medina to change, do it. You get better rates in the city. However if you really need to change at the airport upon arrival to pay for some things, change a little and save the rest for when you see a money exchanger.
- Language: They speak predominantly Arabic and French. There are some folks who do speak little English, but be patient with them. If you have to speak English, speak broken english (basically remove all grammar) and gestures!
- Medina walking – it’s very easy to get lost inside the medina since there are no street signs. Take note of some things you see along the way or take notes of whether you turned right or left on your phone or something.
- TIPS – there’s typically no tipping needed, but if someone walks you somewhere because you’re lost, please be kind and offer up some tips. But if you don’t need someone to walk you, then politely say no and keep walking. They may continue to harrass but just keep walking while politely ignoring them. If you joined a tour, do tip the driver at the end of the day/night. Please note that even if you’re using the same tour company for your trip, the driver is not the same. Not all drivers are trained to drive a certain route.
- CLOTHING – I cannot emphasize this. Just because you’re a tourist doesn’t mean that you can dress anyhow you want. I’m not talking about wearing the hijab or headdress, but MODESTY. You are afterall in a muslim country, moreover a spiritual capital where conservatism and modesty is highly esteemed, please dress modestly and humbly. Just because you’re wearing a transparent pair of stockings, doesn’t mean you can go ahead and wear a mini skirt. If it’s all about the instagram shot, at least include layers. Undress for your photos and then put the cover-ups back on. Please do not disrespect their culture and their norm. It’s the same concept as if you want others to respect you and your culture, please respect theirs first.