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I agree with Melek about Fez…plus some tips for you

By September 19, 2017Africa, Morocco
Donkeys walking in Fez

Melek was not feeling well the second day we were in Fez (probably run down from the stress of Marrakech), so she rested in the riad (the style of house that been turned into hotels) while I explored. I spent the morning in Fez before taking a train to Meknes and Volubilis, but I will write about those in the coming blogs.

Tanneries at Fez

For a better photo check out yesterday’s POTD!

Unlike other ancient cities (Fez is at least 1000 years old) Fez was built in a valley instead of on a hill. They did this to take advantage of the river flowing down the valley and in fact the river is still used by the famous tannery. This site was the first thing on my list and it did not disappoint. Of course, without a local taking me to his “uncle’s” (he gets a kick back it I buy anything) leather shop I would have never found it, because even though it is the size of a small city block there are 3-4 story buildings all around it. Once I went up the stairs to the shop (which was a labyrinth itself) I was on the second floor and able to look down into the dozens of stone vats. Some were white from lime, while others were colored to dye the animal hides. Even today they do everything by hand just like they did in the Middle Ages and Fez is one of the best places to find leather goods for good prices (I got a new wallet for only $2.25) so you can actually save up money to get one the Designer Wallets for Women.

University of Karueein

The University of Karueein looks like most of the mosques in the medinas

As many of you know I love seeing historic places and if it is the oldest of something them I am even more excited. Well, would you be as surprised as I was to find out the oldest university in the world is in the city of Fez? Turns out the University of Karueein (founded in 859) is just that. This is a koranic school of higher learning and is off limits to no-Muslims, but the building used as a dormitory just across the street (street being 12 feet wide) is open to tourist. They were nice enough to let me on the roof and I was able to see into the courtyard. To be honest if I did not know what I was looking at, I would tell you it is another mosque, but now I can say I saw the oldest university in the world. Just FYI, the dorms were cool to see by themselves. They are tiny rooms with door that lock from the outside. It seemed more prison like to me than dorm though.

Tiny passage in Fez

Checkout this tiny passageway in the medina. There are roads and passages everywhere!!!!

Besides the above sites, I just enjoyed walking among the tiny streets and paths exploring the city. I quickly got a sense of how the traffic flowed and since the medina is in a valley, you know you are on the way out if you are going uphill. If you get lost, simply go uphill to the edge of the medina. You will find a gate there with taxis waiting to take you to the gate you need for your hotel.

Once I got back from the train to Meknes it was around 7pm and Melek was so rejuvenated that she wanted to venture into the maze of the medina. She even looked at different food vendors and claimed the food looked good (this is vastly different than the other day when she hated the thought of the maze and eating street food). On the way, we found a Berber pharmacy, which uses herbs and plants to heal people. It was really cool seeing all the jars of stuff lining the walls and Melek

Bab Boujeloud (“Blue Gate”)

Bab Boujeloud or “Blue Gate”

really enjoyed chatting with the guy about different healing techniques. Once it was time to eat, we headed to Bab Boujeloud (“Blue Gate”), where we found all kinds of places. Melek chose to eat at Chez Sidi due to the hospitality of Eyyub and it was fantastic. If you want to go it is right around the corner inside the Blue Gate on the right. Taking her out was the perfect way to end a busy day of exploring!!!!!

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