St. Pattie's Day in Morocco


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Africa » Morocco » Fès-Boulemane » Fes
March 17th 2013
Published: June 17th 2017
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From Moulay Idriss, we all took taxis to the nearby Roman ruins at Volubilis. Set in a fertile plain, Volubilis is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is considered to be a well preservered example of a Roman colonial town on the fringes of the Roman Empire. Abdul orgainzed for us to have a guided tour of the ruins. However, I usually tune out guides on guided tours and this tour was no exception. I was content with just walking around and checking things out at my own leisure and making up my own stories in my mind of what the various ruins were. My favorite part of the ruins were of course the brothel but also the many beautifully designed mosaics weathered from exposure to the elements for almost 2,000 years.

After spending the morning exploring the ruins at Volubilis, we got back into the same cabs for the short drive over to Meknes. Once in Meknes, we were dropped off at a hotel/restaurant somewhere in the Ville Nouvelle so that we could drop off our bags. We had a few hours to explore Meknes, a former Moroccan capital, before heading off to Fes. After dropping off our bags, we all took taxis to the royal graneries known as Heri el Souani. This is where grain was stored to feed the approximately 10,000 horses in the royal stables. After paying a 10 Dirham fee to enter and wandering around for a bit, I became bored and concluded that this was someplace we definitely could have skipped. From here we took a long walk of about 2 kilometers along the walls of the Imperial Palace before arriving at the Mausoleum of Moulay Ismail. This is one of the few shrines in Morocco that non-muslims could enter and was created to honor one of Morocco's greatest rulers. Inside the mausoleum was a series of courtyards before finally entering the tomb hall. We had to remove our shoes before entering the tomb hall which was beautifully decorated in typical Moroccan style. However, being non-muslims, we were unable to actually approach the tomb itself. From the mausoleum, it was a quick walk over to the main square in the medina, Place el Hedim. Known as a mini Djemma el F'na from Marrakesh, the square was abuzz with activity. From the moment we walked through the gates into the square, we were all a bit taken aback by the sudden change of pace. The square was filled with touts trying to get us to pose on elaborately decorated horses, eat at their restaurant, or convince us that we needed a henna. The perimeter of the square was lined with shops filled with souvernir junk for tourists as well as cafes to just sit and people watch. With no interest in shopping, I just wandered around doing my best to soak in the entire atmosphere before meeting Abdul at a cafe we had all agreed to meet at. After having a few drinks at this cafe, Abdul lead us into the medina so that we could all try camel burgers for lunch. We all squeezed into 2 tiny rooms where we were first served mint tea. Having had stomach issues this morning, I wasn't sure how my sensitive stomach was going to react to camel. Along with the fact that we were going to be on a train after lunch, I decided not to risk anything and chose not to try the camel burger. Everyone seemed to enjoy the camel burger and everyone was in agreement that it pretty much tasted like a regular burger. After lunch, we wandered the medina for a bit where we checked out a few souvenir shops before taking taxis to pick up our bags then to the train station to make our way to Fes.

The train ride from Meknes to Fez went by in no time. Once in Fez, we all boarded a rather posh van that would drive us to our hotel in the Ville Nouvelle, Hotel Olympic. After checking in to our rooms, Abdul informed us that today we would have the ability to finally get some alcohol. After a few alcohol free days, some of us guys were getting a bit ancy. We all agreed to meet up in the lobby at 6pm where Abdul would take us to a local bar for some drinks. While we all rested in our rooms, the skies opened up outside and a sudden thunderstorm drenched the city. It was nice to just stand out on the balcony and enjoy the sounds of thunder and the smell of rain. At 6pm, Abdul led most of us to a nearby restaurant that was definitely a local's bar. No tourists were to be found here. In traditional Moroccan style, there were also no women as well. Most of the crowd was fixated on watching an important football match on the television so as 12 tourists wandering in, we didn't make too much of a splash. I had 3 Speciale beers and having practically nothing to eat all day, the beer hit me quick. After we all finally had our fix of alcohol, we got back into another rather posh van for dinner. Abdul recommended a great restaurant in someone's home over in the medina. We were dropped off in a rather sketchy area and walked through some narrow alleyways in order to get to the restaurant. Arriving at the restaurant, we walked through what I thought was just another ordinary door into someone's home. Once inside, we discovered an elaboretly decorated restaurant that the owners had convered the ground floor of their home into. Dinner was hands down, the best meal we had during our time in Morocco. After a delicious meal, the owner's wife introduced herself to our tables in perfect English. We were all invited to take a tour around the home including the kitchen and the rooftop deck that was still a work in progress. After dinner,
The Ruins at VolubilisThe Ruins at VolubilisThe Ruins at Volubilis

The Capitoline Temple
it was another early night for all of us. After buying some snacks and water across the street from the hotel at a small convenience store, we were all back in our rooms by 11pm to call it a night.


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The Ruins at VolubilisThe Ruins at Volubilis
The Ruins at Volubilis

The Capitoline Temple
The Ruins at VolubilisThe Ruins at Volubilis
The Ruins at Volubilis

The Capitoline Temple
The Ruins at VolubilisThe Ruins at Volubilis
The Ruins at Volubilis

The latest residents
The Ruins at VolubilisThe Ruins at Volubilis
The Ruins at Volubilis

The latest residents


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