Welcome to Behind The Lens! This is a new section where I will be writing a little guide about our trips. As we travel with a tight budget that means we have to prepare quite a lot before hand, so that also means we are able to get to know quite a lot about the country we go so I thought that would be a nice idea to share it so more people can benefit if you visit the same places and hopefully save you time. I will include images, tips, hotels, restaurants, routes and many more.
I really hope you enjoy it and you find it useful!
Fes is one of the oldest imperial cities in the Kingdom of Morocco, it was the capital of Morocco until 1912. The old town of Fes hosts the oldest medina in the world, which is UNESCO World Heritage Site. Just by saying that would be enough to make it worth visiting.
It was built in the 9th century and it has more than 10.000 alleys where cars are not allowed (basically cause are too narrow). You will find almost any kind of handicraft job; tiles, rugs, clothes, leather, iron, brass, wool, argan oil, etc etc. If that was not impressive enough, Fes has the oldest tannery in the world (Chouara Tannerie) and the oldest degree-granting University (Al Karaouin). Not impressed?
One of the things we like to keep in mind when finding accommodation in our trips is to find a place near to the main area, that saves us lots of time, even if that option is more expensive that is something we really advice, specially in Fes.
Our Riad was Riad Fes Bab Rcif, and we really liked that place, the location is great,
right next to the entrance to the Medina, also the personnel was very helpful and that is something hard to find in Fes as many people is on a hunt for tourists to scam. As we just wanted to visit the old town of Fes, that was a great option so we could rest a bit more as we wouldn’t have to travel to the main places.
Fes new town has not much to offer so we just visited the old town, where we found 3 full days to be enough to see almost everything that has to offer. Probably the best you can do is to get lost in the maze-like Medina. That will lead you to many shops and little factories where locals are doing hand-made products. One example is the area where they work with the leathers, and this place is called Tannery. The oldest and more famous one is Chouara Tannery and its a must see place.
If you have a sensitive sense of smell, you will need to be prepared. But do not worry too much as they will offer you mint, so you can put it in your nose as a filter. That should not put you off, this is one of the highlights of the city and of the country!
Be aware that there is literally no way to get to it unless you access to the shops. Let me explain… Those tanneries are surrounded by shops and houses so the only way to see them is to access to one of the terraces, which are private terraces owned by the shops.
That means that the locals will insist to get in to their terraces for “free”, so on the way back you will have to either buy something from their shop or give them a tip. We gave a tip of 50DHR (less than £5) and they were happy so that is quite reasonable.
To get to the basement where they are working you will have to pay a bit more, as they do not like to be photographed and it can get quite crowded.
In terms of food, we found so many restaurants with local food so you should be fine with any option you take. Moroccan food is really tasty, with many types of Tajin, cous cous and different meats. We really recommend to have a Moroccan tea a few times a day, also the Moroccan coffee is superb. Keep in mind that there are not many restaurants in the heart of the medina so you may need to walk a bit to find one that you like.
As you may know, you will need to bargain everything, which can be quite tiring, but do not worry too much, is part of their culture so as long as you don’t insult with your offer you should be fine. Also be aware that there are many people that is looking around for tourists to guide them to the main places, they won’t do it for free. They will take you to places they want to and at the end will ask for money, so my advise is: unless you are happy to give money away, do not follow anyone that wants to guide you. I would even say, do not answer back if you see that they are trying to guide you. Some of them assume that because you are from Europe you have lots of money so you have to give it to them. The last thing you want is to start an argument in a narrow street with just 2 or 3 locals asking you for money (that is what happened to me), but in my case I did ask specifically not to follow me cause i would not give any money, we just wanted to walk around on our own but he carried on. Do not be aggressive but be FIRM.
In terms of transportation, you should be fine using local taxis, the rate is quite cheap and the distances are quite short. If you book the accommodation near the medina you will only need transportation from the airport to the hotel and back. That should cost you no more than 15EUR per trip and will take around 30 min depending on the location of the hotel or Riad.
On your return home, keep in mind that the security at the airport is quite strict and slow so make sure you are at the airport 2h before the flight departure.
Also Drones are not allowed in the country, so do not bring it with you or it will be confiscated at the airport. Bring a pen with you to Morocco as you will need to fill up a form to get in the country at the airport, they will give you the forms but you will need a pen as they do not have any, sounds a bit stupid to mention but if you get there you will appreciate the advise.
Finally, make sure you enjoy the sunset in a terrace with a Moroccan tea, you will enjoy the smells, sounds and the spirit of the city…
I hope you find this article helpful and do not hesitate to contact me for further help and info about any destination!