Today we went through the Fez Medina. It is a UNESCO world heritage site and home to the first university in the world.
The entire experience is an assault on your senses. The smells are insane. The weirdest combination on animal smells, food, leather, spices anything you can imagine. The sights are insane. Small windows that have people selling live chickens, sweets, shoes, clothing, blankets jewelry. The alleyways are so tiny that in some it is single file people and since no vehicles there are donkeys carrying things, small carts filled with fruit and men carrying large potato sacks filled with things on their backs. Really amazing and difficult to take it all in.
The medina has over ten thousand different alleyways. Yes. That is not a mistype…ten thousand! It is easy to get lost and so I was thankful we had a guide.
We also went to a Koranic school. Our guide informed us that they have not been in use since 1960 when basic education requirements changed. The mosaic tiles were beautiful and I learned that is because in Islam no temples or statues are to be made so the beautify the mosques with tiles and woodwork instead.
We had a lovely three course Moroccan meal at a beautiful restaurant. The Moroccan ‘salad’ is really many multiple different vegetable dishes including mashed cauliflower, lentils stewed with tomatoes, potatoes cooked with dates, and spinach. For the main, I had chicken and pigeon pastila. Delicious! Dessert was fresh fruit including young pomegranates that are only yellow but so delicious!
We also went to a leather tannery in the medina. All of the work is done by hand and the dyeing vats were outside (photos) included. I bought a camel leather bag for what I hope is a good price.
Other artisan visits were mosaic tiles, textiles, metalsmith. All very interesting. While going through the tile shop they also sold tangines. I have wanted to replace mine since it was lost on my move back to Calgary. We are looking and looking at them deciding if the shipping cost is worth it. I overhear the salesman selling a tagine to someone else..”Tagine no problem, you can use it in oven or in fire” The North American replies back “okay sounds great but I don’t have a fire” salesperson “no problem, no problem” – sale complete.
And no tour would be complete without a trip to the rug shop. Dani immediately felt regret for not getting a rug from Turkey since they were much nicer. I on the other hand was extremely glad that no rug had been purchased at all.
I had read in the guidebook that a trip to the medina is like time travel to the 17th century. I would agree with that although at the front of the medina we are reminded that we are in the present day because of the mobile phone cases.