fes, part two

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adventures in fes, continued —>
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after our half day tour and that amazing lunch, we explored the markets of fes a bit more on our way to the see a madrasa (ancient school) and a royal palace outside the medina gates. 
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^^ there are so many cats in morocco’s cities. i had to snap a few photos of them to remember how often we saw them roaming the streets. ^^
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^^ here is the famous blue gate entrance of the medina of fes, called bab boujloud. ^^
i was so sad that several of the madrasas in marrakech and fes were closed for renovation during our trip. but madrasa bou inania was open and did not disappoint. there’s just something so pleasing to the eyes about all this symmetrical, intricate detail. 
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^^ how about this suuuuper colourful alley we happened upon?! i love it. ^^
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we got a little lost trying to find our way to the royal palace, and ended up winding through a random residential area of the city. it was serendipity - i loved seeing a quieter part of town and i loved  how the buildings in this area were painted pink and blue. 
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we ended up walking down a busy market street where there were zero other tourists, but definitely more than zero cats ;)
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the seven golden doors of the royal palace were quite the sight to see. can you tell that i considered ian my maternity photographer throughout this trip?! (haha!) our little thirty three week baby bump had quite the adventure in morocco!
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we spent our last morning in fes at this really peculiar place called glaoui palace. it’s this suuuuper random and very run down old building that a friend recommended we check out … and i totally loved it. it’s unclear who runs the place, and turns out people actually still live there (we met a live-in artist and his son) and there’s just stuff kind of lying around all over. but i just found it all so full of character and beauty and weird charm.
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we took a bus that afternoon up into the rif mountains to the little town of chefchaouen, which i think is one of the very, very most special spots on earth.
pics from there coming next! 

fes, part one


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before our trip to morocco, i was curious about if i would like marrakech or fes better. turns out they are both just so amazing!! - in very different ways. we found marrakech to be more touristy (not necessarily a bad thing!) and rustic-feeling, and fes is full of steep hills and ornate design. we really loved visiting both. 

we opted to have a tour guide show us around the medina of fes on our first morning there, and that was a great move. the market streets are such a maze and it was really nice to have someone show us around and explain what we were happening upon. (we really loved wandering on our own in marrakech, but it was cool to mix it up a bit by having some more structured sightseeing in fes.) our guide took us to some spots we never would have discovered without him that were really neat, and we learned a ton from him!

some photos from our evening arrival and then tour-guided morning in fes —> 

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we stayed in a spectacular traditional riad that was originally built in the 14 century. we were kind of giggling about how fancy it all felt … it was pretty fun. 
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the best part of our riad was the rooftop terrace! we arrived on the train from casablanca right at golden hour and were floored by the views over the city.
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we explored the streets of fes a bit that night and had a lovely traditional dinner on the terrace, followed by a lovely traditional breakfast on the terrace the next morning! moroccan breakfast is yummmmmy, especially all the fresh squeezed orange juice (one of my fave things ever). 
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our guide, mohammed, took us first to some neighborhood streets in a very un-touristy part of the medina. we passed through tiny alleys by family homes and then into an amazing neighborhood market.
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^^ how about that eel for sale?! woah. on the right is the dye market, where we saw people preparing and using all different colours of dye. ^^ below is the brass workers’ souk. 
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mohammed took us to see an beautiful woodwork museum, the university of al quaraouiyine - which is the oldest university in the world! - and the zaouia of moulay idriss ii - a tomb dedicated to the man considered to be the main founder of the city of fes (back in the 800s!). I could hardly believe my eyes as we took in all the detail, colour, symmetry, and beauty! 
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we learned that to be even considered for acceptance to the university of al quaraouiyine, one has to have the entire koran memorized. incredible.  
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mohammed helped us wind through the market streets, full of treasures...
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…to a furniture store and spice store and carpet shop. because every tour has to include some sales pitches from the guide's friends :) luckily no one was too pushy, or disappointed when we didn’t buy anything!, and we enjoyed seeing and learning about incredible handiwork. 
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…and the views from the top of the carpet shop were spectacular
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^^ all the green roofed buildings make up the university. ^^
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our last stop on our tour was the leather tanneries - which fes is famous for. i was hesitant about going to see them because i had heard the smell was incredibly strong and unpleasant … and when you’re pregnant that kind of thing is definitely magnified! but mohammed gave us each a sprig of fresh mint leaves to put by our noses and the stench really wasn’t bad at all! i was sooo glad we went up to see the tanneries because i thought they were really, really cool - probably my favourite part of our time in fes. 
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we learned a bit about how leather is tanned and watched the men at work for a while. one thing i really, really loved about visiting morocco was seeing things being made. we are so separated from the process of creation in our regular lives and I think it’s so enriching to get a bit closer to that process. 
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^^ looooots of leather goods inside the tannery overlook! ^^
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mohammed dropped us off at this random, unmarked building down some tiny alley - and upstairs there was a restaurant. the food was incredible and there’s no way we would have ever known about this place without our guide taking us there! this is not a great picture, but i wanted to remember that meal - i think it was the best we had in morocco. the side of beautiful sunny views was a bonus!
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more from fes coming soon!