Then we came to an open area, Abdul told me that I river used to flow openly here but now area was covered. When I was looking at a map in my phone earlier, I saw the river there, so it must had been covered recently.
Then I saw a guy selling charcoal. It was a hot day in Fez and that guy was probably sweating and he was all covered in black with coal dust. I saw few more people selling chaff. May be it was due to the fact that tomorrow was going to be Eid Al-Adha. People must had bought their sheep or goats and this could be their breakfast or lunch. Then I saw two guys, who had two sheep in a two-wheeled cart. They were pushing them in the medina in order to sell them. Just out of curiosity, I asked about the price of one sheep. It was told it was close to $190.
The Nejjarine Museum of Wooden Arts & Crafts
Opened in 1998, this museum is in a wonderfully restored funduq - a caravanserai for travelling merchants who stored and sold their goods below and took lodgings on the floors above. Centred on a courtyard, the rooms are given over to displays of traditional artefacts from craftsmenís tools, chunky prayer beads and the Berber locks, chests and musical instruments (compare the traditional wedding furniture with the modern glitzy chairs outside in Place an-Nejjarine). Everything is beautifully presented, although the stunning building gives the exhibits a run for their money. The rooftop has very good views, overlooking medina and the Merinids tombs.
Then we passed beside Moulay Ismael Zawiya. The door on that side was under renovation. Small wooden beam was hanging over the head in the middle of street. Probably it was due to height restriction.
We were brought to Almedina Restaurant (on Derb Al-Hamam). Abdul told me that he would go home for prayer and lunch and he would meet us again at 3pm. So we had one hour and fifteen minutes for the lunch. I went inside the restaurant, it looked very posh and it had very nice interior. Price range was 250DH - 350DH + 10% service charge, for a set menu. I thought it was too pricey, given that it would get us a starter, main course and fruit as a dessert. Only Europeans were eating there. On few tables, some of the guides were sitting and talking with their clients. We decided to leave the place and tried to go for easy on pocket option. I took photo of the restaurant's sign, in case if I was lost so I could ask people for the direction. I wanted to go back to Najarine museum area. I thought there was a restaurant.
While I was walking back to the Najarine area, I asked a shop-keeper for the direction and a youth in the bazaar told me to follow him. I told him that I was fine and I didnít need his assistance. He was barely ten years old. Then I stopped to look at a sweet shop, he stopped as well. When I moved, he started to walk in front of me again. I called him over and told him that it was unacceptable what he was trying to do. He told him to go away but he stood there, staring at me. I wasn't going to be intimidated by ten years old. Now his friend joined him too. He came over and asked for money. I told him that I wasnít going to pay him a penny. He told me that I was a Jew (tight fisted) and left.
I came to najarine museum area, only to find that it was a cafť. I asked the owner for a restaurant. He brought us to the Nejjarine Restaurant. It was buzzing with noise and good atmosphere, it was also nicely decorated. We stood at one side but no one came to bring us to the table. After few minutes, I came to the counter which was in the middle, beside an arch, and asked a guy for a table. He apologised for the delay. He though we were part of the group and we were waiting for someone to join.
A table was cleaned and set up for us. Price range of that restaurant was 120DH to 270DH. It also had set menu. I had to accept that. Aneta ordered Salad, chicken with lemon and fruit as dessert (menu 1). I ordered bouchittue ruiz, chicken tagine and of course fruit was my desert too (menu6).On my right hand side, there was group sitting, they were talking very loudly in their proper American accent and from time to time they would burst into a laughter.
First salad arrived; it was brought on few different plates, which contained lentil, olives, cauliflower, carrots, potato, boiled rice and cucumber in vinegar. It looked beautiful in presentation. I must admit that salad was delicious. The Americans were becoming louder, now they were talking to their guide, who was sitting with them. One of the women was from Israel and she was comparing her country with the USA. There were also two young girls sitting on the table and talking to each other. One told the other girl that she had dated a Jew in the past.
Oh really, the Israeli woman got excited.
Yes, I had.
Why did you leave him then?
It didn't work out between us. The difference was too much. She replied.
You mean religious difference?
No, no, religion wasn't a big issue for me. Even I was ready to convert to Judaism.
Now everyone on the table became quiet and started to listen to that conversation.
So what was the problem then?
I didnít know the exact problem but it was his lifestyle and family.
Two of women from the group raised their eyebrow.
Let me explain, She continued. His family came from Israel but he was born in the USA but sometimes, out of blue, he will start to behave strangely.
You mean, it was more of a personality issue?
Yes, it was. She said after thinking for few seconds.
One of them said, religion isn't a big issue. As long one could have things in common.
When you are in a relationship, the memories start to build-up. Some of them are sweet but some of them aren't that sweet. As a human we only tend to remember good things.
Then a guy added, put this way, if you are in a relationship and you are a quiet person and you would like to spend your time at home e.g., watching TV. Your partner is an out-goer. He/she likes to jog and enjoys outdoor sports. It will always be a problem for the couple.
Everyone in the group nodded their heads in agreement.
The conversation only broke when one of the waiters came to clear their plates. I caught his attention and informed him that we were ready for the main course. Then bouchittue rice was brought to the table, it was my starter. It looked like samosa and it had rice inside and something sweet on the top because it tasted sweet.
I got my tagine, It was better than what I had in Tangier. One thing which I had come to known that the Moroccan food didnít had strong flavours. I asked for salt and pepper which never arrived.
Now it was 2:50pm, I wanted to leave because we were meant to meet our guide at 3pm. I came to the counter and spoke with the manager and told him that we were short of time and we had to go. He told me that he would discount us for the dessert (fruit) from the total bill.
Bill was 310DH in total. Both Menus should had been 120 + 150, with addition of a coke and a fanta. Where was discount for the fruit? Even if they had charged 20DH for the soft drinks.
Now we started to walk back to the place where we were meant to have lunch. I reached at one of the corner of the bazaar and asked a guy by showing him the picture of the restaurant's signboard, which I had taken earlier. He pointed towards the street. On reaching there, I was hoping that guide would be waiting at the front, but there was no sign of him.
I went inside and asked one of the staff members, if Abdul was there? He seemed to know him; he told me that he was going to call him. I decided to wait outside. Three guys were sitting in front of the restaurant and they were watching passers-by. Then a young came to us and asked something in Arabic. I told him in Arabic that I didnít speak the language. Then a waiter came out of the restaurant and told me that our guide would be there shortly. He also invited us to sit inside but I was more interested in street life.
After five minutes, I saw Abdul coming to us he looked bit worried. He stated straight away that he had called the restaurant and they told him that we had left. Where did you go? He seemed to be in hurry. I told him that we went to have a look around and wanted to eat something light. And we were meant to meet you at 3pm so in my opinion we had plenty of time.
Our next visit was Cherratine Madrasa; this Madrasa is one of the many Koranic schools tended to provide accommodation for their students. Inaugurated in 1670, the Madrasa Cherratine differs from other madrassas city for its functional style and little ornate. At first glance the Madrasa Cherratine has a similar to the rest of the madrasas of Fez, looking after a large entry courtyard with fountain opens and the three upper floors are arranged the rooms of over 200 students.
Then we passed through Seffarine square where people were making wares with their hands. After coming into the bazaar Abdul old me that there was a building nearby which sold carpets. He said that he knew that we were not there to do any shopping but the building was worth the visit. It was owned by the government and building's interior was a master piece itself.
The Carpet Shop
As soon as, we entered the building, we were greeted by a very pleasant guy. Abdul introduced me to Najeeb that he was going to show us around. Najeeb brought us upstairs and there was nice view of media on the top. He also showed us the looms where women worked. He told us that they were on holidays; otherwise they would be working there that day.
Najeeb brought us down and another guy came over to us and introduced himself as Muhammad.
First of all can I get you mint tea? Then we will talk about carpets. Muhammad started in a very polite manner.
We are fine, Muhammad, we just had our lunch, I replied.
Oh, please. Mint tea is always good after lunch.
I understand that, but thanks, we are perfectly fine.
Let me tell you, this carpet shop is run by the Government and I am an employee of the government and I get my salary monthly. You have no pressure to buy any of the carpets from here. The women who work here are all widows. They make carpets then we sell for them and women get commission from their products' sale.
It seemed to be a good system for the women. I said to him
Yes, he got little bit excited.
There are three main types of carpets style. Arabic, Jewish and the Berber. Next thing he told his staff to throw different styles of carpets in front of us.
Muhammad, it's fine, you donít have to do this. We donít want to buy anything. I almost begged him.
Oh, please have a look. Donít buy anything, just see the style. The government pays me and I donít get any commission from the sale.
Please, tell me, which design you find fascinating?
I duly pointed to one of the carpets on the wall.
Yes, that is a beautiful carpet, isnít?
He told staff to bring carpets of that style. Then all of sudden, there were few carpets on the floor.
Now, let me tell you. It is very hard to make these carpets. Look at the design, it took one woman two years to make it and it costs Ä3500 but I also have cheaper carpets for Ä1000.
If spending Ä1000 was considered cheap in Morocco, then I would better stay there and sell carpets and get rich.
Thanks Muhammad, I donít want to buy any carpet.
Please listen, you donít have to take with you. We can DHL for you, we also accept credit cards.
I told Muhammad, there seemed to be a misunderstanding. I am not here to by any carpet. Do you understand? I had assertiveness in my voice.
Then he became quiet and I came out of the carpet shop. Needless to say that I was annoyed by Muhammad and his gang, I was more annoyed by my guide because I had made it clear that I didnít want to buy any carpets and dragged me right into it.
When I came downstairs, the guide was already in the street. He limped as he walked. I asked him if he was OK? He told me he wasnít, he explained that while we were up looking at the carpets, he had slipped and hurt his back. I asked him if he needed to sit down for a while, but he assured me that he was fine. Then he started to drag his left foot more. We were in front of Kairaouine Mosque but the main gate was closed.
Abdul, you need medicine, you are in pain. I told him
Yes, I am, but I am fine.
May be you can ring your son to show us around and you can go home? I asked him.
Yes, I am going to ring him. He replied.
In the meantime, the door of the Mosque opened and Abdul told me to go inside and have a look around and he would wait for me.
The Mosque of al- Kairaouine, near the Suk al-Attarin, or Spice Market of Fez, is one of the world's oldest universities. Founded as a private oratory in 859 by Fatima Al - Fihri, after the deaths of Fatimaís husband, father, and brother in short succession, Fatima and her only other sibling, Mariam, received a sizable inheritance which assured their financial independence. Both sisters donated their fortune to build mosques of Al-Andalus and Kairaouine in Fez.
Fez was intimately linked to Islamic Spain politically, economically, and culturally. Visual references to the religious and palatine architecture of Islamic Spain are evident in the mosque's hypostyle plan, the 10th century square stone minaret (commissioned and funded by 'Abd al-Rehman III of al-Andalus), and by the carved stucco, wood, and glazed tile (zilij) ornamental style derived from the Alhambra. The Almoravid ruler, Sultan 'Ali ben Yusuf expanded the mosque to its present size between 1134 and 1143. The courtyard's blue and white tile floor, marble ablutions fountain, and the two fountain pavilions, which recall the Court of the Lions at the Alhambra, were added by the Sa'di Sultan 'Abdullah ibn al-Sheikh.
Gerbert of Auvergne, who would become Pope Sylvester II and who is credited with introducing the use of zero and Arabic numerals to Europe, was once a student at al- Kairaouine.
When I came back from the mosque, Abdul was sitting on a stool.
I asked him if he needed any medical assistance?
Yes, I do. You need to pay me now and you can continue with your tour. You can go to Attarine Madrasa on your own. It isn't very far from here, follow this long street and you will need to pay 10DH entry ticket. After Attarine you can go to Bou Inania Madrasa.
Look, Abdul, you need help. I can ask someone for a pharmacy and I would buy some pain killers for you. I don't want to leave you here injured.
I would buy medicine by myself.
Well, you canít walk. How are you going to move?
Donít 'worry about me, you can pay me now and continue your visit.
OK, that fine, is your son not coming to show us around? I asked him
He is coming here but he will bring me home.
How much do I need to pay you?
400 Dirhams. He replied.
Well, we agreed that you will be with us for full day till 7pm. Its only 4pm and I am not going to pay you for a full day's tour. I donít mind even if your son was going to show us around.
Five hours you had spent with us, if you break it down, you took one hour and fifteen minutes break. So basically you only spent four hours. I will give you only 200DH.
Abdul wasn't expecting this one from me.
No, this wasn't the deal we made. You have to pay me 400DH.
OK, your son told me about the half price, which was a white lie. You brought us to an expensive restaurant without telling us where and what we wanted to eat? You brought us to a carpet shop to waste our precious time and now you are injured. Even I wonder if you are genuinely injured?
His face dropped. OK give me 200 Dirhams.
After paying him the money. I didnít bother looking back if he was still there or he had gone. May be he got another half day tour or he was just unhappy because he didnít get any commission from the carpet shop, tannery or the restaurant? Only God knows the best.
We came to Attarine Madrassa. Paid 10 Dirhams for entry ticket and we were inside.
The guy at the door which was letting people inside was closing that door from time to time. Considered by many to be the most beautiful madrasa in Fez. Especially the panels at the entrance to the prayer room, as fine as the best in the Alhambra. The al-Attarin Madrasa was commissioned by the Marinid Sultan Uthman II b. Ya'qub, Abu Sa'id (r. 1310-31) in 1323/723 AH and completed in 1325/725 AH. It is located in the spiritual centre of Fez, near the Mosque of al-Kairaouine. The madrasa's location at the entrance to the spice and perfume market gives al-Attarine, the madrasa of the perfumers, its name.
The courtyard opens onto a square prayer hall, and is luxuriously ornamented with glazed tile (zellij) dados and pavement, intricate carved stucco ornament on walls and piers, carved and painted wooden arches and cornices, and marble columns. The al-Attarin Madrasa illustrates the translation of a palatial language of materials and decorations into a religious setting. Though the carved stucco and glazed tile revetment clearly evoke the Nasri palace of Alhambra in Spain, their highly delicate, almost lace-like, treatment and tendency to ever smaller scale is unique to the Marinidis foundations in Morocco.
The courtyard, as the most public of the spaces within the madrasa, was therefore the focus of the ornament that would highlight the generous image of the madrasa's founder.
Then we were walking out of the medina. Some parts of the medina were covered with wooden roof which had small holes and light was coming through them. Whenever sun was on my face, I could feel the power of the African Sun. While we were walking on the street. A guy came over and asked if we were interested in a beautiful view of the medina from the top? I declined his request and kept on moving through the busy bazaar.
We reached Bou Inania Madrasa but it was closed. The guy at the door spoke no English. I asked him in Arabic when it was going to be opened after Eid? He said that it could be Thursday or Friday. That was a strange answer from a member of staff who was minding the entry door. The main door was still open though.
The Water clock
I asked a guy on the street about water clock which was closed for renovation. As I was turning back, someone shouted, ďI can show you the water clockĒ.
I looked behind me and saw a teenager standing running towards me. He said that he knew how to go on the top and see the water clock from the side. He brought us up through very narrow and dirty stairs. On second or third floor, adjacent to that roof top. There was a family living, which had two dogs and one of them started to bark. The woman was washing her pots next to it. She told dog to be quite but he was having none of it. Dar al-Magana (Arabic for clock house) is a house in Fes, Morocco, built by the Marinidis Sultan Abu Inan Faris which holds a weight powered water clock.
The muwaqqit Abou al-Hassan Ibn Ali Ahmed Tlemsani was responsible for building this water clock which was finished on 6 may 1357. The clock consists of 13 windows and platforms designed to carry brass bowls. The bowls have been removed since 2004 and the clock mechanism is presently being reconstructed by ADER, a foundation for the reconstruction of monuments in Fes.
The motion of the clock was presumably maintained by a kind of small cart which ran from left to right behind the twelve doors. The cart was at one end attached to a rope with a hanging weight, at the other end to a rope with a weight that floated on the surface of a water reservoir that was drained at a regular pace. Each hour one of the doors opened. At the same time a metal ball was dropped into one of the twelve brass bowls. When we came down, I asked the guy how much he wanted?
20DH, he replied.
I offered him ten but he didnít want it.
I told him to come to the street but he wanted payment at front of the door steps. I paid him 15 Dirhams and seemed happy enough with it.
I walked through Vegetable market, it was full of noise, sight and smell. We walked and came out of the bazaar through Bab Chorfa. Then I took left turn on the main street after passing Dar Batha and the fountain, we came to Bab Ziat. After entering the medina through Bab Ziat, I saw a girl sitting on the doorstep with her granny. She was showing her boobs. I wasnít expecting that in Morocco. End of the day, Morocco was still an Islamic country. Then I asked a guy for direction to the riad. He brought us in front of it.
After refreshing for a while, it was time to hit the city again. Now cafes were full of life and nearly every table was occupied. We reached main square in front of Bab Chorfa. The open market was still there. It was packed with crowd. I turned to the open area on left hand side.
This place was very lively and people were sitting and enjoying their Evening. Some of them playing cards, others were just chatting. When reached to other end of the square. On my right hand side, there seemed to be an innocent argument going on between an old woman and a young girl. It could be granny and granddaughter or could be mother and daughter. I think first scenario would have a stronger case. The old woman wasn't happy about something but the girl wasn't paying much attention to her. The old woman spat on her but young one just laughed. Her laughter made old woman angrier, she turned around and spat at her again. Two guys were watching the whole scene. One of them grabbed the old woman by arm and took her away, while other took the girl on one side. It seemed that both had temporary cease fire.
There were two women selling street food from a small cart. They had a gas lamp on top of the cart. Both were chatting and from to time, they would scan the area for potential customers. Then I started to walk towards other side of the square. There was a road in the middle. On my left hand side, there were two teen agers holding each other tight. When I looked at them, the girl felt embarrassed and she looked away with a red face. It seemed that she was caught red handed.
There were lots of people buying shoes and jeans, which were displayed on the floor and one guy was shouting prices of his stuff and crowd was flocking around him. This square had everything, from fights to romance, from sitting and doing nothing to traders who wanted to make money and customers who were eyeing for the last minute deals to crowd watchers, like us.
I came to the Batha Museum and I saw a sign for pizza. When I enquired within. I was told that they only did margaritas. I thought that it bit was strange. When I was coming out of the shop, I was approached by a guy. He asked me if I had recognised him? Before I could answer him. He told me that he was son of Abdul, who was our tour guide this Morning. He apologised for his father' inability to finish the tour. I told him not to worry about it. I decided to walk back to the main market again. I was approached by a guy, who asked if I was looking for a restaurant? I told him no, I was fine. He told me that he knew one place which had music and girls.
Sorry, I wasn't interested. I replied.
I saw a hotel on right hand side. It had its menu displayed at the front door. It was a set menu at 550DH per person. Now that was pricy for sure. I went to Bab Boujoloud. There were two restaurants. One on right hand side and other was on the left. I went to the one on the right hand and ordered couscous with chicken and Herrera as a starter.
Bab Boujoloud was in front of me. That gate was considered one of the main entrances to the old medina, and the western exit of Adouat El Qarawiyine, was built at the beginning of the 20th century and exactly in 1913 by the French protectorate authority thanks to the Maalam ( master mason ) Bouzabaa who added to this gate a touch of originality; the gate, which is made of a central arch and two small lateral arches, is decorated with the typical Fassi Zellij ( ceramics ): green(the colour of Islam) on the interior faÁade, and blue(the colour of Fez) on the exterior faÁade, so that when a person enters the Medina the gate is blue and when one exits it is green.
There were cats around the place; they were roaming freely between the table, chairs and our feet. One of them was very fat; she put her back feet on chair's lower bar and tried to climb on the table to grab the food. I didnít like her boldness so I shooed her away. She went to the table of a Spanish couple, which was sitting next to me. The woman in the beginning seemed to like the cat but when she tried to climb up, she chased her away also.
Both restaurants were having a stiff competition with each other in order to get customer. But it seemed that guy on the right hand side was winning the battle. May be it was little closer to the Bab so people wanted to eat there. Other street had multi floors seating area but it had smaller space on the ground floor. I didnít notice find any of the Moroccan eating in those two restaurants. The restaurant, I was sitting in, there was a young guy helping out in the kitchen. It looked like he was son of the owner. The restaurant was getting busy and both were under pressure.
The Spanish couple turned over to us and started to chat. They Aneta that they had visited Marrakesh, Casablanca, Rabat, Meknes and Fez in seven days. I thought I was crazy enough to spend one night in each city but now I have met my challengers. After finishing dinner, I bought two packets of the Moroccan mix sweets to eat them later on.
Day two in Fez
After having breakfast in the small courtyard, I decided to leave the riad. When I came on the street which was inside the medina wall. I saw few young guys burning woods and they had few sheep's head there for cooking. One guy was cutting horns from head with a machete. I stood there to check out their cooking and cutting skills. A woman driver passed in a car, she was very slow because space was very tight. I looked at her; she was a bold driver, just passing beside burning wood and smoke. She smiled at me; probably she knew I was admiring her driving skills. I took a taxi and told driver to bring me to Borj Nord. He dropped us in front of it but it was closed. We walked from there.
We passed Merinid hotel, and then came to Merinids tombs on my right hand side. I stood there to admire the beauty of the mountains on my left hand side and there were some orchards of olive trees. In the far distance, I could see a road snaking upwards and disappearing into the mountains. While I was there, I was approached by a woman. Who was asking money but she wasn't speaking Arabic. She could be a Beriberi speaker? I gave her few coins and she left quietly. I saw a family coming from the opposite side. They stopped, looked at us and moved on. I had camera in my hand, I was taking photos, but they thought I was going to take their photo as well. One of the young girls ran away while other put a hand on her face. Then I climbed to the Merinids Tombs on the right hand side. I could see that smoke was rising from Fez medina. It was bit hazy in the Morning.
The Merinids Tombs
The Merenid Tombs were located on a picturesque hill, just outside of Fez. It had breath taking views of the city. From its location, popular attractions and landmark religious sites can be seen amongst the bustle of Fez. The rolling hills that surrounded the Merenid Tombs would allow anyone to appreciate the beauty of that region in Morocco. It was also situated close to Bab Guissa, which was visible from the tombs.
We took cemented stairs to come down from the Merinids tomb. They were broken in some parts. There were also wild plants on one side of it and it gave a nice mix to the whole place. We came on the main road and started walking towards city. On my left hand side was old city wall. A truck passed on the road and a guy shouted from the back of it, ďHow are youĒ? I waved at him and he waved back at me. I saw a bus station on left hand side and on the opposite side was a square. That area was all paved but it was very dirty. There were heaps of rubbish, some of them were burning and smoke was rising. I saw few guys sitting next to it and staring at every car which was passing on the road. There were not many people walking, the whole place felt very eerie. I came to Bab Mahrouk. That door had history of its own.
Lisan ad-Din ibn al-Khatib (Born 16 November 1313, Loja (Spain) - died 1374, Fes (Morocco) (Full name Muhammad ibn Abd Allah ibn Said ibn Ali ibn Ahmad al-Salmani) was a poet, writer, historian, philosopher, physician and politician from Emirate of Granada. Some of his poems decorate the walls of the Alhambra in Granada.
Al-Khatib spent most of his life as vizier at the court of Muhammad V, but was exiled from Granada twice and lived for some time in the Marinid Empire in Morocco (the first time 1360-62 and the second time 1371-74 in Ceuta and Tlemcen and Fes). In 1374, he was imprisoned and accused of heresy (Zandaqa) and atheism for which he was sentenced to death by suffocation. His body was burned then buried at "Bab Mahruq", one of the gates of the city of Fes. It is believed that his private feuds with the Nasri Kings of Granada were the main reason of this treatment.
The second story has another protagonist who is Al Oubeidi (a leader of Rif Ghomara tribe); an opponent of Sultan Al-Nasir Ben Youssef Al Mansour who was by his turn burned in this gate as a warning to all the opponents of the Sultan. So the change in name is attributed to those two people.
The gate was erected at the beginning of the 13th century under the reign of the Sultan Al-Nasir Ben Youssef Al Mansour while the process of rebuilding the surrounding wall that had partially destroyed by his grandfather, the caliph Abdelmoumen.
I stood there and a guy came out of the taxi and I asked him about the main graveyard of the city. He pointed towards the left side; I crossed the road and went inside. As soon as I entered the front door, two guys followed us. One was an old man, other guy was younger one with grown beard and very dirty clothes. I was looking for the grave of Abu Abdullah, the last king of Granada. I looked at the picture of his grave which I had with me. That graveyard didnít have any resemblance to it.