Now, I am pretty sure that in an ideal world, we would all like to take two weeks off every time we go on holiday and explore all the places we would like at a leisurely pace. But sometimes this is just not possible, right?! So, what is Agoudal Travel doing about this? I’ll tell you what we are doing, we are dedicating some of our blog to the ‘24 hours in’ series. This is where I go and try lots of things and see lots of stuff to separate the wheat from the chaff so that you don’t have to. You get to see the more interesting things to do and you can either build a long weekend around a place you particularly like, or if you are lucky enough to have a week or so – this will give you some ideas as to how you may want to build your holiday.
If that all sounds a bit like hard work, we offer ready-made tour plans and have just started with the design of our Morocco weekends, so we do all the hard work for you! With a flight time of just over 3 hours into Marrakech or Fes from the UK, it’s doable. In fact, it’s more than doable, it’s a must!
So, without further ado, let’s do 24 hours in… Fes. Fes is a pretty awesome place you know. Not only is it the second largest city in Morocco, it is also the largest Islamic medieval city on the planet (the planet!). Now if that hasn’t got you a teeny bit interested, try this…fondly known as the spiritual and cultural home of Morocco, it is a world heritage site believed to be one of the world’s largest urban pedestrian zones and is also home to one of the oldest universities in the world, the Kairaouine Mosque and University, founded in 859!
Now, to the subject of getting around. You need to know that although Fes is pretty fantastic it is an absolute labyrinth that can be tricky to negotiate. There are said to be some 9,000 alley ways so it is likely you are going to get lost…not that nice ‘oh, look we have got lost but not to worry we can vaguely remember the way back’. I mean the ‘oh no, we have been wandering around for so long now that it is actually dark and it could be Thursday’ (from going first out on Sunday) kind of lost! So, get a guide. Or even better, let us organise one for you!
Taking my own advice, I did exactly that and got myself a guide. We hit the cobbled streets of the oldest Medina in Morocco about 9.30 am and started with a hearty breakfast (second one for me!) of traditional Moroccan soup and bread in what was quite possibly the smallest café type place that I have ever been! Fully fortified, we headed to the quarters of the craftsmen. The butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker… the carpenter, the rug maker, the weaver and the copper smith! You will find them all here.
We visited the looms of textile weaving and carpet making co-operatives and marvelled at the Kairaouine Mosque and University. We also visited a huge apothecary to learn about the famous argan oil of Morocco, essential oils and exotic spices. As you can see…. the place is mighty well stocked for any situation!
As our four-hour tour started to draw to a close, the most amazing stop on the tourist trek, one of the most iconic sights of Fes, Chaouwara Tanneries, was saved to last. You are best to arrive in the morning and then you will see the tanners still at work in colouring and softening the leather. On the subject of softening the leather, you will be handed mint as you walk into this Aladdin’s cave of leather goods, and this, for once is not to add to your tea! This is to take away the dreadful smell from the tanneries. The leather is actually soaked in pigeon poop in order to soften it. Best travel tip you will ever get…take the mint!
Despite the smell, it is absolutely worth a visit. You will not see a more wonderful example of the old traditions of a country still put to work. You also get the opportunity to pick up wonderful leather crafts and souvenirs to take back home, but don’t forget to haggle!
At this point the tour was due to end and I was meant to say goodbye to my guide, but I was having so much fun that we agreed to extend our tour for another couple of hours and we jumped into a taxi and headed for the hills…literally! We took in the Merenid Tombs and stopped at the Royal Palace, Dar El Makhzen, to pay our respects to the King of Morocco! Sadly, the king was not in residence and the gates were closed, but this didn’t stop us getting some still wonderful views of the surrounding area.
The last stop on our tour extension was Les Poteries de Fes, which gave us a fantastic insight into the traditional workmanship still alive and well in Fes. As we walked around the pottery, we learned that not only are the traditional pieces of ceramics in great demand but so is the intricate tile mosaic work on large commissioned pieces for international clients. I do challenge you to not fall in love with just about every stunning piece you see!
If you are interested in Fes, and would like more information, please contact us. If you want to add on to your Fes adventure, take a look at our tours, in particular, the Imperial Cities tour is great if you want to learn about the history of Morocco, taking you to all the Imperial Cities: Rabat, Meknes, Fes and Marrakesh. Or if you want to pair Fes with Marrakech and the Erg Chebbi Dunes, check out Fes to Marrakech and Erg Chebbi and Marrakech Erg Chebbi and Fes.
And last but not least, please remember that our speciality is customisable tours. We have hundreds of contacts throughout Morocco, so if there is something you want to do that you don’t see here, or you want to tweak one of our custom tours to include an extra day to include the above-mentioned tour of Fes for example, just ask. If it is logistically possible, we will do our absolute best to incorporate what you would like. Just ask!