After a restful sleep at Riad Andalib in Fez, we were treated to their excellent breakfast of fresh squeezed orange juice, Moroccan mint tea, homemade cakes, crepes, cheeses, and eggs. They served more breakfast than any of us could finish!
Post-breakfast, we were off to explore! The medina of Fez is the oldest part of the city, accessed by entering through one of the many gates. Naturally over the years the city has expanded outside the walls of the medina where you can still see the ruins of many ancient palaces, but the exciting sights were all within the walls, according to many.
The hotel staff suggested that we take a taxi to Bab Boujloud (for the equivalent of $2 USD). It is the upper entrance to the medina, and the most beautiful gate in the city.
From there, we spent quite a bit of time wandering the souks. We had one place in mind for the day: the tanneries.
We then saw Place Seffarine, the place where you will find all of the “original boilermarkers,” coppersmiths, and brass workers. It was an interesting area of the city where you can see each man perfecting his craft.
From there, we asked people to point us in the direction of the tanneries. Of course, everyone offered to take us there, and everyone wanted money, but I was confident enough that we could get there on our own. We did. Let’s just say that people always say how cool the tanneries are but neglect to tell you just how smelly they are. I cannot stress enough just how much that area smells, and it is most definitely not for those with weak stomachs! Just about every shop in the area has a viewing balcony of the tanneries below as a way to draw people in. They’re advertised as free to get you into the shop. But, here’s the catch. Once you enter the shop, you cannot get a spare moment alone without the shop owner jabbering your ear off and asking you to buy their products or take a closer look. I could deal with annoying salesmen, but what was most disappointing were the tanneries themselves. Everyone failed to tell us that the iconic tanneries were actually under reconstruction, therefore covered and not visible. Instead, there were only a few dye bins visible, which were not even remotely impressive. So, pretty much, we got badgered to go up to a balcony overlooking construction. We were less than thrilled.
We decided “that was that” and that we’d had enough of Fez. We wandered through the medina and continually got lost amongst the souks. Naturally so. The Souks rest along narrow, winding streets packed with stalls selling everything under the sun. Get ready to be ripped off, because there are no prices – everything is determined via haggle.
That said, we were significantly underwhelmed with Fez, aside from our incredible hotel, and were thrilled to be working our way south towards more natural beauty.