Fabulous Fes and Charming Chefchaouen

My best travel buddy and I went back to Morocco for my third trip in October. This time we went north- to Fes, the second largest city in the country, as well as home to the oldest Medina. RH and I wandered the city, shopped, and ate. Overall impressions- Fes has more money, friendlier people and is cleaner than Marrakech. However, I think everyone should go to both cities as they are so different. There is absolutely nothing like Jemaa el-Fna (the main square) in Marrakech at night, with the music, vendors, food stalls, snake charmers, and humanity milling about. You must experience this if you get the chance. I did prefer shopping in Fes- the medina is paved with bricks and is more navigable. I drank tea with many shop owners and chatted more with them than I did in Marrakech, but this could be just because it is my third trip so I was finally settling in. Don’t forget to bargain! If the shopkeepers call you a Berber, it means you drive a hard bargain 🙂

We did a city tour on the first (very rainy!) day and spent a lot of time at the Super Duper Gallery looking at rugs. Find them on Instagram at maze_of_fez and get heart emoji eyes at all of their posts. Two brothers, Ibrahim and Abdul, run the shop and I had great experiences shopping with them. Our riad was one of the best I have stayed in- Palais d’hotes Suites and Spa Fes.  Located was just outside the old Medina, the hotel had easy access to get out for day trips. The staff was helpful and friendly, and we enjoyed hanging out and chatting (as well as their impromptu music concerts). If you go, tell Hassan and Youssef we said hi. Riad was comfortable, spacious, had great wifi, tons of good food, and a sweet rooftop terrace.

The guys at the riad helped us hire a driver to take us to Chefchaouen, which if you have ever been on Insta or Pinterest is “the Blue City.” Nobody can agree on why exactly this mountain town is painted blue, but everyone agrees that is it beautiful and unique. This city also boasts certain handcrafts (I’m looking at your wool pom-pom blanket, KC) that are only made in this part of the country. The trip there took forever- four hours plus each way, due to numerous slowdowns from police checkpoints. Turns out the other major industry in the area is cannabis production. Lots of backpackers love this town for the ease of access to drugs. These stops made my day really long but it was worth it! Scored some beautiful wool blankets, a Moroccan wedding blanket for a friend, and some swoon-worthy photos. I would recommend staying there for a night or driving yourself. Our driver went BELOW the speed limit for much of the trip. You know that is not my style… He did stop and buy us snacks though. He did not get the lesson on what “Hangry” means- that was saved for Hassan later in the evening. Whoops.

The other highlight of this trip was the hamman I went to. Just naked me and this tiny Moroccan lady in a steam room! She scrubbed me and dumped hot water on me and massaged my head and it was awesome. I need to figure out how to get that scrub glove and special black soap to replicate on my own. My skin felt amazing for days.

Let me know if you have specific questions about the trip. I hope you enjoy the photos.

 

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Embroidery on furniture in the riad. 
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More embroidery. 

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Whoops. I knocked over a pile of carpets. And I may or may not own a couple of them…
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There are 300 neighborhoods in the Fes Medina, each with their own bread maker.
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Tannery. 
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Selling a fez in Fes. 
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Tannery. 
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The Blue Gate.
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Blurry picture of street artist alley. 
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Woodworking. These artisans are amazingly talented. 
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Our riad. 
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Chefchaouen! 

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Leaving Chefchaouen. 

 

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