Not a Fan of Fes

By the time we got to Fes, we’d already experienced a roller coaster. In Marrakesh, we learned to put our guard up and keep Morocco at a distance while in Meknes, we’d been lured back in. Our first sense that things were about to change again for the worse, happened when chatting up a cab driver on the way to the train station in Meknes. When he cheerfully asked where we were going next and heard our response, he frowned. “Oh… that’s too bad”.

No Culinary Paradise 

After checking into our hostel, we decided our first mission would be to find a bite to eat, asking the hostel for recommendations. They warned us that our food options would be sparse and suggested we buy the dinner cooked by the hostel. Thinking we knew better, we set out with empty stomachs sure we’d stumble upon something. Unfortunately for us, Fes does not seem to abound in food options. Thus far we had been able to easily find places to eat but Fes had little in the way of restaurants. Though there were particular areas we were told we should go, we only found a paltry few after a long search and were unimpressed by the quality or prices. Markets abound but if you’re not able to cook for yourself, good luck.

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Not Welcome

Moving on, we decided to explore the medina. As Fes is the most intact medieval city in the Arab (or maybe the whole?) world, we had high hopes to discover its charms. What we were greeted with instead is a city with a conflicted relationship with its tourists. Having only recently opened its international airport, Fes has become an incredibly popular tourist destination perhaps before it was ready. Just walking down the street, we faced aggression (verbal and physical) from  random people that made it clear, we weren’t exactly welcome. This went far beyond the everyday salesman hassles we’d usually encountered.

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Getting Out and Away

Not wanting to overstay our (seeming lack of) welcome, we grabbed a cab and headed away from the medina. After spending the evening sipping mint tea (not sick of it yet!) at a French themed cafe, we called it a day and returned to the hostel: in for the the night.

minttea  

Though I’ve heard other people say they loved Fes (usually for the famous ceramics school), I can’t agree. Only 45 mins away, Meknes was a much better choice for me for the architecture, the food, the cost… everything. As for Fes, I doubt I’ll ever go back.

Click here for more photos from Fes and more from Morocco, in general.

Have you been to Fes? What did you think?

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4 thoughts on “Not a Fan of Fes

  1. You had the strangest experience of Fez I have come across in eight years of visiting and now living here. For a start there are restaurants everywhere in the medina with prices for every budget. Good cheap, clean and healthy food is available on the street. Being at the hub of great agricultural land, the organic produce is a foodies dream. The up market restaurants in the Medina serve fabulous food and great Moroccan wine. The people of Fez are friendly, honest and have a great respect for tourists. Getting hassled is universal… try Rome, London… New York… and in comparison Fez is a dream. The medina exists for the Moroccans it is true, and 90% of the trade is local… but they are proud of the city and happy to share it without expecting any reward.
    It is a safe place for solo women travellers, which is a huge bonus. The biggest problem Fez has is that most people don’t give themselves time to explore… a week is too short, a month and you will start to get the hang of it. But beware, it is seductive. As you said, Meknes is great, but you can explore it in a few days and the food and restaurants are not nearly as good.
    Come back to Fez and we will show you how to relax and be captured by it.

    1. Obviously, everyone’s experiences (everywhere) will be different and this is only my experience in the limited time I was there.

      As far as restaurants go, I can only go on what I was told and what I experienced. If there were restaurants everywhere that I just didn’t come across, I have no idea. I walked around for hours and didn’t come across much.

      As for Fez being a dream compared to London, Rome or New York, I totally disagree. I’ve been to all three of those cities and had a perfectly pleasant experience. In Fez, I was insulted and cursed at (once because I turned down an offer to buy drugs and another time because I ignored someone who was talking to me – which is impossible not to since I was being hassled every five steps for one reason or another). Getting hassled to this extent is definitely not universal though its not uncommon. I don’t know why our experiences were so different.

      Anyway, I write only from my experiences and unfortunately, this was my experience there. If I ever end up back there, I will remain open minded and see if my impression changes!

  2. Hello!

    First time visiting your blog, and decided to leave a comment as I lived in Morocco for a year, and have visited Fez many times. Not sure if it’s my favorite place in Morocco (I have many, actually!), but for me the city has its charm. It’s great for buying artesanal objects, especially made of leather, and I’ve always eaten well there. Most often in the small cafés just near the Bab Bou Jeloud entrance to the medina. And I love the nougat they sell there -can’t find that from many other places in Morocco!

    Fez is notorious for “false guides” (les faux guides), and unfortunately
    some people are perhaps too insisting trying to get you to their stores. This is not only problem for foreigners: I have Moroccan friends who were visiting from other cities and had the same experience. But I still hope nobody would NOT visit Fez for fear of being harrassed, as the city is full of history and beautiful architecture.

    Apart from that: nice blog you have!

    Greetings from Peru,

    Anna

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