We finally left Rabat. I was so sorry to leave. We were staying in a beautiful hotel and in a beautiful city on the ocean, but its time to move on.
We boarded our bus for the long ride to Fes. Fes is the fourth largest city and is inland towards the Sahara. Along the way we stopped at two places and had lunch.
Our first stop was in the city of Meknes. Meknes is in the middle of Berber Country. A caliph built Meknes and surrounded the city with walls like a fortress. The caliph was Arabic and up until the past hundred years the Berbers and Arabs did not get along. There was never intermarriage, but toady it is allowed. The caliph decided that he needed a walled fortress. We were told that his two compassions in life were money and women. Sounds like some people we already know. Meknes is walled in and has these huge gates that you drive under to enter. We stopped at the Bab Mansour Gate which was patterned with mosaics and quite beautiful. After entering the city, the bus pulled over and our guide decided to take us to a local food market. There were lots of vendors selling all sorts of products. The olives and dates were displayed like a tapestry of colors and patterns. The meat vendors displayed their products in a way that Olivia has almost decided to become a vegetarian again. Use your imagination.
We then drove to a nice restaurant for lunch. I had chopped meat and a salad. The meat was very tasty and we all enjoyed our lunch. The food is interesting, quite good and very reasonably priced.
It was then onto a UNESCO World Heritage site. The site is named Volubilis. This is a Roman ruin site and was the Romans African administrative center for the Roman Empire. The ruins were very extensive and the excavations were still going on. We walked all over as our local guide told us the history of some of the homes and gates. The site is located in the middle of farm country. There were lots of Olive trees growing and the cacti were extensive. I am not a ruins guy. They don’t turn me on anymore. Once you have seen the Roman ruins in Turkey and Greece, other Roman ruins are sort of pale in comparison. This site had some large mosaics, but did not compare to the Roman mosaics we saw in Sicily in a Roman bathhouse that was being excavated.
It was then onto Fes. We were not driving on a highway, but over a local road and through some serious farm country. The local farmers were getting ready to plant their crops. This area grows soybeans, peas, wheat, barley, chick peas etc. The ride to Fes took about ninety minutes and the landscape and topography was quite interesting.
We finally reached Fes. In Morocco there are hotels called Riads. Riads are former homes of people that have been converted to hotels. The one we are staying in was built by the Salam family about five hundred years ago. The lobby area has hand made tiles ad mosaics and the whole area has small fountains with bubbling water all over. The Riad is located in the Medina of the old part of Fes. The Medina is sort of the old quarters of the city. This was what the city was like prior to expanding outside the Medina as the population grew over the years. There are narrow streets and lots of vendors selling almost everything. Old men pulling carts met us when the bus stopped to take our luggage to the Riad through narrow twisting streets and alleys. Our guide told us not to go out at night and Olivia is sort of scared even during the day. Tomorrow we have a full day of being with the group so there will be no leisure time on our own anyway. Our room is quite small and the bathroom is the size of a small closet. We will survive. Its only for two nights and then its off to the Sahara.
Maybe we have really caught up to the real Morocco. Rabat did not seem to be like a real Muslim country and was so beautiful and clean. Time will tell.