20180521

A Day in Fes

After leaving the desert in the morning we had a 7 hour drive ahead of us to Fes.. with a few stops along the way. The drive to southern Morocco was very interesting.. the scenery changed drastically.. from dry rocky terrain to lush greenery.. it almost felt like we were no longer in Morocco and maybe parts of rural Italy.. We arrived in Fes in the early evening.. Just like in Marrakesh we were staying in a riad in the inner city.. but what we found different from Marrakesh was that the outer city.. the main city was so much larger than Marrakesh.. so much more modern looking. When we arrived near the medina we were greeted by a porter as well as the hotel manager who both immediately embraced the boys and led us to Dar Victoria Riad.


The door to our room.. it was a two storied room with a sitting area, bathroom and D's single bed on the ground floor





and upstairs was a single for H and a queen for us.

We were exhausted after the long journey and the only thing on our mind was dinner.. preferably non Moroccan. I had heard about a great thai place a 20 minute walk away.. this would be a great way for us to get a lay of the land.. so we set off. NOTE - we used offline google maps to navigate the medina's with little to no trouble.. we would download them when we had wifi at the hotel or at restaurants.. everyone was more than willing to share their passwords. A few minutes into our walk and we were already not loving it.. It lacked the charm of Marrakesh.. had an abundance of extra unpleasant smells that Marrakesh did not have and the people had their scam game ON!

After many winding surprisingly uphill alleys and lanes we found the thai place.. Maison Moi Anan. It was hidden in a tiny little lane we walked by twice.. again Thank God for Google Maps! Oh good food.. our bellies so happy :) On our way back these kids teenagers.. I am so old would not leave us alone.. they insisted on giving us directions.. even when we refused they self elected a volunteer to walk us to the riad.. we ignored them and continued with vigilance while our self proclaimed tour guide walked ahead of us.. then when he felt he had walked us far enough he wanted us to pay him for his troubles!!!


Breakfast the next morning.. and off we went..



inside the Madrasa Bou Inania


in the streets


We were feeling a bit peckish when we spotted


ah yum.. we shared some nacho's :)




for lunch we were on the look out for Cafe Clock.. they serve camel burgers and we wanted to try them. The cafe was tucked in a teeny tiny little alley.. D spotted it.. 


The burgers tasted like burgers.. the kids couldn't even tell the difference. 

and now for the highlight of our day.. hands down the best thing about Fes.. the Merenid Tombs. Well it was not really the tombs per se but the hill they sat upon.. the 360' view.. it was stunning.. I could have spent hours there.. 






The pictures do not do justice to the spectacular view.. it was a bit of a walk from the medina.. some people were taking taxi's there.. but we like to walk.. we went back to the same thai restaurant for dinner again.. the kids were happy.

      
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20180518

Friday Photography


    
Blue Hand - My mother's hand. Perfectly Imperfect

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20180514

Spending a Night in the Moroccan Desert

On our second day of travelling through the High Atlas Mountains we arrived at the town of Merzouga where our driver dropped us off and we boarded a 4 wheel drive truck. Our new driver drove us through the bumpy rocky pre desert area.. he did some stunts to produce some ooh's and ah's and after 20 minutes we stopped to meet the camels whom were to take us the rest of the way to the desert Erg Chebbi. This entire excursion was booked via Desert Luxury Camp. They exceeded our expectations is every way.






We were in awe of the endless desert... I was surprised to find it dotted with little bushes.. the sand would shift so stealthy behind us.. the camels took about 30 minutes to get us too our camp.. it was interesting to think that once upon a time this was the mode of the transportation..  an oh so very slow method. It was a cool day.. we had picked the perfect time to venture into the desert.. in the summer it can become unbearably hot.



The camps.. 


the outdoor seating area.. where we had breakfast the next morning and music played near the roaring fire at night.


we were welcomed with lemonade and chocolate chip cookies.




Inside our fancy tents.. with a hot shower :)


The rest of the day we spent sand boarding.. chilling in hammocks and watching the sunset..  



After dinner we all took hot showers to wash all the sand off.. while the desert looks serene.. and most of the time it is serene when the wind picks up and the sand starts blowing it can be a bit brutal.  

The next morning before breakfast we decided to walk along the dunes one last time.. say our goodbyes..



After a quick breakfast we were off again.. via 4 wheel drive and then reunited with our driver to continue our journey towards Fes.
       
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20180511

Friday Photography

       

The Arches - During a class trip in Iran there were these mausoleums and tombs in tribute to great poets, architecture reminiscent of old Islam and gorgeous tiles and organic paintings on the walls. This photograph is a reminder of the beauty of Iran.

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20180507

Winding through the Atlas Mountains

The next morning we were picked up by our driver Kamail and so we said our goodbyes to Marrakesh and started day 1 of our 3 day journey through the High Atlas Mountains our final destination being Fes with a stop over in the dessert.




We made a few stops along the way.. see those winding roads down below, the particular spot was called Tizi and Tichka .. and we wound all the way up them.. at high speeds. We had no internet the next few days.. we all got a lot of reading done.. napped at intervals and tried to keep the nausea at bay.. seriously.. I'm not one to get nauseous.. but all the spiraling up a mountain got my insides all squirming.



That brown structure far in the distance is Ksar of Ait Benhaddou. It is a traditional mud brick city on the edge of the High Atlas Mountains. It is on the UNESCO World Heritage List and has been featured in many films, mostly as a replacement for Jerusalem. It has appeared in more than 10 movies, including Lawrence of Arabia and Gladiator. Below is a close up. We didn't visit it.. just observed from a distance.


Above is a picture taken outside the Atlas Film Studios. Once again we didn't take the tour.. but many many movies like Gladiator, The Mummy, Spy Game, Lawrence of Arabia etc have been shot here.. 


At the end of about 6 hours we reached Skoura where we were to spend the night. We had hired our driver via a company called Dessert Luxury Camp and the stay in Skoura was included in the package. So we expected a basic hotel.. one step above a motel. So imagine our jaws dropping yet again when we pull up to this beauty




Our room was a two bedroom, with a tub large enough to fit the whole family and a large siting room. 

After welcoming us with mint tea and cookies we were taken on a tour of the property where they grew a variety of herbs, vegetables and had 100 year old olive trees.

While we were freshening up for dinner we heard a squeak squeak.. we narrowed down the noise to the fire place and guessed it might be a baby mouse? Not wanting to make a big deal out of it.. we just made sure to close our bedroom doors and headed out for dinner. 

Once again our hosts were so nice and friendly.. dinner was wonderful. 

A side note: There are cats everywhere.. especially where you eat.. cat's just sit by your table and stare at you.. our ground floor room's window was left ajar and a cat tried to jump right in.. we shooed it away and closed all the windows and snuggled in for the night.. but there was one persistent cat that started to loudly meow and claw at the window.. and squeaking in the fireplace hadn't ceased. M wondered out loud.. "what if the squeak was a kitten and not a mouse?" we called the front desk. Out of the fireplace emerged.. wait for it


four kittens :)

The next day after breakfast our driver picked us up again and we started day 2 of our 3 day journey.. through the High Atlas Mountains.. 








 A stop at the Todra Gorge and then a lot of driving.. until we finally reached the Erg Chebbi dessert. We spent the nigh there.. and I'll share more from the dessert in next week's post.

On the 3rd day we woke up in the dessert and after breakfast we continued on the rest of our drive.. the longest one so far.. a total of 7 hours to Fes with a quick stop at the Valley of Palms.



  
       
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