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Published: April 19th 2009
We take the train to Rabat this morning about 1 hour. The good thing is we have paid a little extra about 2-3 dollars more to travel 1st class, that only means we have a seat and don't have to stand all the way there. We took our food with us - things that we bought in the market yesterday - strawberries, raspberries and dates. We played GIN and Francine won most of the games.
We ate lunch at a restaurant that had a lot of local character with very good food, we had turkey brochettes and veggie tajine.
We walked through the crowded Medina and the souks but not time to do any shopping, our guide is practically running. They were selling everything, There were large bowls of green and black slime, goo, with the word cactus over it, we later found out they were soaps made from cactus.
We walked through the Kasbah Des Oudaias which was so neat with the white and blue walls of the small maze like alleys. Very clean and an upscale neighborhood and at the end it opens to the Atlantic Ocean for a beautiful view. The houses here
GO SPEED RACER-----OUR TOUR LEADER RAN THROUGH SO FAST WE ARE LUCKY TO GET THIS PHOTO!
costs 2 to 3 hundred thousand USD.
Rabat was once a refuge for pirates, today it is the political capital of Morocco.
We once again went to the train station for a trip to Meknes. However the train was delayed and we had to wait 30 minutes Moroccan, it ended up being an hour for the train. We watched as the peak hour trains arrive and hundreds of people tried to cram onto the train, people were hanging out the doors. We boarded our train, which we had booked compartment seats only to find our seats taken and the people would not move, the conductor had to get them to move for us.
Once settled we spent the next 3 hours laughing and telling travel stories with members of the tour group. Everyone was coming past our compartment asking if we were having fun!
We arrived in Meknes at 9pm. We went to dinner at a really nice restaurant and had Casablanca beer and traditional Moroccans food.
Meknes was once an imperial city of Morocco and the capital of one of the most colorful golden ages with the Sultan Moulay Ismall (a contemporary of Louis
XIV) who set out to build his version of Versaile. He constructed walls, gates and over 50 palaces.
A city tour of Meknes started at the Royal Palace and the large lake fashioned from the one at Versailes
and we walked the exterior of the palace grounds that were over 2 miles long. There was also a visit to the Royal Mosque were the Sultan and his favorite wife and descendents are buried and continue to be buried.
Once again walked through the souks with everything: camel meat and hanging freshly butchered goats and lambs,.heads innards the lot. Fresh fish: eel, stingrays, squid, and prawns. The snail market had large cane baskets of live snails some snails crawling all over the walls and ceiling of the stall
Lunch was tasty camel burgers!! YUMMY!!
The meat was laced with tasty spices and very tender, garnished with a delicious relish in a huge bun.
An hour or so mini bus ride led us to the city of Volubilis where a large area of Roman Ruins are found. The road there was very picturesque dotted with Olive Groves. This was one of the furthest and remote
OUR ALTER EGO --OVERLOOKING THE ATLANTIC OCEAN
military outpost in Morocco. This was a thriving outpost up until the 8th C. The out post was intact up onto the 18Th C when a devastating earthquake destroyed most of the building and after that all of the marble was taken to Meknes for other construction. (This is the same earthquake that destroyed Lisbon )
Up on the hill overlooking the ruins is the town of Moulay Idriss, which was the first Islamic settlement in Morocco. You can only visit this city if you are a Muslim.
Late afternoon we arrived in Fes. Fes is one of the most complete medieval cities of the Arab world and the most ancient of the Moroccan imperial capitals. This evening we went to a Riad for dinner. We had our own room with a low table and benches with cushions. Very Moroccan. We enjoyed some Moroccan red wine and authentic food. Many small dishes to sample and platters of cous cous, vegies and chicken.
Today we were off on our official city tour with a local guide, who had also done a New Zealand travel show about Fes. There are three parts to the city. Fes el-Bali (Old
Kasbah Des Oudaias
A BEAUTIFUL AND SERENE NEIGHBORHOOD BEHIND THE WALLS OF THE FORTRESS
Fes) is one of the largest living medieval cities in the world. Its streets are a labyrinth of 9400 narrow lanes packed with bazaars selling every conceivable item and donkeys laden down wht goods. Fes el-Jidd (New Fes) is the district west of the medina, dates to the 13th century and was built by the second Merenid Sultan. Today it holds the Royal Palace. It was also the home of the town's Jewish population from the 14th century until the mid 20th century. The Ville Nouvelle built in the 1920's is an area of wide sweeping boulevards with lots of cafes and restaurants.
Fes has been designated a site of historical significance by UNESCO.
We visited the Kairaouine Mosque and then to the look out to view the city, in the area where the Royal Palace is located.
We then headed into the old city medina. Off into the streets where there are all the craftsmen working there trade. We saw yarn dying, using all natural colours, from mint, saffron, ocra, indigo, clay. They were woven into beautiful rugs, (which Fran narrowly avoided making a purchase) fabrics and embroidery. Next was the leather shop and tannery and
dying pits. Again all natural colours are used. The leather is softened using bird droppings and the amonia from the droppings softens the leather. Silversmith showed us how they make the metal urns and inlay with silver thread. We saw blacksmiths, coppersmiths and knife sharpeners. Our last stop was the ceramic shop. We were shown the process of how the mosaic tiles are made and then all the beautiful items made from the tile and other ceramic items such as bowls, tajines and all other dishware. Yes we made some purchases. A nice dish with Moroccan design and a small souvenier tajine.
For lunch today we disappeared way into the medina to a little cafe for the another tajine. There is no way we would have found our way out by ourselves. An absolute maze. Dinner was light. We split three deserts and mint tea. We getting into our regular travel pattern now.
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