|Entrance to our riad in Fes|
Our pre-trip group of 6 merged with 8 travelers in Rabat, the capital city on the Atlantic Ocean. It was the second day of the El IAd, and the streets were basically deserted. We toured one of the king's several palace grounds, several ruins, walked the promonade at sunset, and had an amazing meal in a spectacular former mansion hidden in a narrow alley. Rabat isn't the typical capital city of a developing nation--it's clean, modern, and mellow. Drivers actually stop at stop signs and they rarely honk their horns.
(Below mascot at ceramic tile cooperative, followed by Rabat monuments)
Inland about two hours from Rabat, but still in the north, Fes was founded in the 800's between the Rif and Atlas Mountains. It had a sewer system from the beginning. We stayed in a riad (a large home with a central courtyard) that was built 400 years ago in the part of the city that was established in the 1200's. It was actually three raids combined and modernized, and it is spectacular. (Trip advisor says it's only $108 per night, but it feels like $1,008.). It's a 1/4 mile walk through alleyways to get there.
Below: Tannery in Fes
The Madrasa (an Islamic school teaching all subjects to students of all faiths) was the most interesting. So much of our modern academic system and terminology is based upon them, such as words like endowment, chair, scholarship, etc.
Below: scene from inside the old medina
Volubilis and Meknes tours
Volubilis is an amazing set of well-preserved Roman ruins encompassing 100 acres and 1.6 miles of walls. Founded in the 1st Century, it has mosaic tiles in the floors of some homes, a sewer system, and more. Much of it was either destroyed by the 1755 Lisbon earthquake or looted for sultan palaces, but so much still remains intact.
Seventeenth Century Meknes is the onetime home of the Moroccan sultanate. It boasts the largest city gate in the world and a 25-mile perimeter wall. The old city has a massive structure that housed 12,000 horses and a granary that could hold several years' worth of wheat.
Below: stables & Grainger of Meknes
We concluded our three-night stay in fascinating Fes with an informal dinner on the rooftop, watching the sunset and the full moon rise in the 100 degree heat. Today (Thursday) we head toward the Saharan Desert, with a lunch stop at a ski resort high in the Atlas Mountains. We've been to a lot of interesting places over our 40 years of marriage, but Morocco has to be one of the most interesting, and unique. It's relatively clean,moderately priced, and the people are friendly. All-in-all, it's been a most pleasant surprise!
Your happy traveler and frustrated blogger,