Friday, 21 November 2014

Morocco: Tanger to Fes

After getting off the boat we drove to Tanger to arrange a couple of things such as getting Moroccan money, oil for the car which needed changing before further travels but also to make a decision on what to do next. We decided to leave Tanger despite the original plan to spend the night there and to drive slightly further south as our destination was Midelt from where we would start the actual trip around Moroco. We stopped for the night in Larache, a seaside town, dirty, smelly and with lots of traffic.


Larache where we spent the first night in Morocoo. The blue building is the hotel. The hotel was fine but the town wasn't a place where one would like to stay too long. 











The first days in Morocco were spent on nothing but car servicing so we could safely travel off road in the South of Morocco, through the Atlas mountains as well as the dessert. It wasn't our plan to spend that much time but unfortunately the first job took longer than expected and the next day Aaron discovered that it got stuffed. The Moroccan mechanics repaired one thing but then damaged another and hence Aaron had to take the car to another mechanic. This time we were in Fes where we stopped for the night. The next mechanic fixed whatever the first had ruined but then added his own damage to the car. So many things that needn't have had to happen!


The motorway to Casablanca













The street where the first car workshop was located. There were several overflowing bins like this one just along this street.








 



 A little workshop with a Singer sewing machine where a couple of men were making awnings.










Here's the main workplace. Inside there were rolls of different pattern plastic sheets you could choose from to have your awning made










Beany keeps himself busy when the car gets fixed.









Again it wasn't our intention to have a stop in Fes. We ended up here by accident. Aaron couldn't find an exit from a motorway so he drove slightly further and since it was late we found a hotel in Fes to spend the night. So far we've found Morocco quite expensive, mainly hotels. We seem to pay European prices for not at all European standard hotels. There was no hot water in this second hotel we stayed in. And for whatever reason there was only one bath towel whilst the room accommodated 4! Imagine we paid for it more than for a four **** hotel in Albania which included breakfast (the Moroccan didn't) and was beautifully located by a mountain lake!

I must admit the three days Aaron spent at the mechanics were rather difficult. Fortunately Fes had McDonalds and a shopping centre next door to it so the kids had fun time playing there and we had no trouble getting food that I felt was safe to eat. However; Micky still needs naps and whilst Beany had the ability to fall asleep anywhere at any time (even on a bus to an airport in Rome eating his lunch), Anastazja finds it very difficult to fall asleep anywhere but in a bed. She does eventually, often on my lap, unless we are  in the car, after wriggling, elbowing and kicking me mercilessly. The second day wasn't that bad as knowing we would have to spend another night in Fes I found a nice hotel a walking distance from McDonalds and the shopping centre and we checked in straight after lunch. The three of us had an afternoon rest while waiting for Aaron to come back from the mechanics. The last day in Fes was probably the worst simply because we all had enough by that point. And we hadn't even had a chance to see Fes medina which is meant to be pretty amazing, the best one in Morocco.

 Fes, at McDonald's playground. Second day of car maintenance

 

Having a little dessert at a crepes place in the mall. Anastazja got upset as Marcel wanted to get his fork back to eat his pancake!

Could this little mouth open any wider? 

At the playroom in the mall
Finally after four nights in Fes we made a decision to carry on with our off roading plans. Not that the car was in a perfect condition. Actually it was far from it (more on the troubles with our car in a separate blog) but we had enough and badly wanted to do what Aaron had planned for us. We packed up, booked a riad (type of B&B) in Midelt in Atlas Mountains and after visiting the medina (old, walled part of the town) of Fes we hit the road. 
The building just behind the petrol station is the hotel 
Across where we spent most of the time in Fes.


Aaron heard from people he met at the mechanic's in Fes and I read that the medina of Fes was pretty amazing but what we saw was beyond our imagination. I thought the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul was an enchanting place, however, when I walked into the first alley way in the medina I was 'Wow! This is much better than the Grand Bazaar!' This is a very authentic place with locals doing their shopping there: fruit, vegetables, fish, spices, chickens (still alive), meat, shoes, cleaning products, clothes and whatever else comes to your mind. And all of that in very narrow, unpaved alley ways, some as it turned out during our walk a dead end. We visited a few stalls that were of interest to us: a bag shop (obviously) and a shoe shop, a little stall with dishes and a rug stall. We haven't bought anything as it wasn't our intention since we are moving south which is meant to be a better place to buy authentic Moroccan products. I found it very difficult to leave the medina without any purchases so I'm convinced that we won't be coming back to the UK empty handed.

Fes - on the way to the medina




One of the gates to the medina

The medina of Fes








Bakery




A display in one of the restaurants in the medina

Bou Inania Madrasa - the court - built in XIV C - it was an educational institute and a mosque
Although we didn't buy anything, we couldn't resist having lunch in the medina. 
Lunchtime


Starters: a salad and a soup with bread.    Main: lemon chicken tagine which is basically a piece of chicken 
There was also some sauce served that     flavoured with lemon juice cooked with a variety of vegetables: 
could go on the bread or later on the         onions, olives, carrots, potatoes, green beans. Simple but  
main dish. Although it was quite spicy        delicious. It's slow cooked in a special dish with a tall, conical lid.
it was pretty tasty too.                               The earthenware is called 'tagine' and hence the name of the dish.



Dessert 


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