Walks Through The Medina

I was told by many travelers that during my stay in Spain, I had to make a trip down south, to the Kingdom of Morocco.  Although it had already been on my bucket list, I knew that the summer would be the perfect time to embark on a journey to Northern Africa.46cc29ad-bcb7-4e62-9750-726abcd45181After our trip to the east of Spain, we took a short plane ride to the city of Marrakesh also known as the “red city” because of the red color of many of the buildings. This city kicked off our adventure into the unknown world within the Medina. 70335b74-a964-47c5-83af-136c25cc0a32It’s beautiful to see how different a culture can be with countries so near to each other.  900 miles away from the tip of southern Spain, lies a country full of tradition, vibrant colors,  beautiful landscapes, fragrances, and stunning architecture. The list goes on of course, but these are just a few that stood out to me.cc748463-8cf8-4cf6-aace-b25d4a8f54f2We took a cab straight from the airport to the Medina. Before doing so, we had to do some research on how to hail a cab, I wont get into it now, but there were many articles and suggestions written on which cabs to look for, which to avoid, and how to set a fixed price before driving off. 3273ac6e-89c4-463c-a6d8-14e26d2f2b9cWe were dropped off at the edge of the Medina unexpectedly and then transferred over to an older gentlemen that was carrying a wooden cart. He tossed our luggage into it and started walking towards our hostel. My friend quickly asked the cab driver if this was included in our journey and he said it was. I must admit, I was skeptical.5027076f-eb50-4001-9cd1-6ef17f251f0915 minutes into the walk we had no idea where we were and wondered how much further we had to walk. A few feet in front of the hostel, the older man stopped and asked us for money. We had a sneaking suspicion this would be happening throughout the trip.  We gave him a “tip” but he was unsatisfied and wanted more. This situation happened quite often throughout our trip but I wont elaborate on those situations. 1ca45f67-e660-48d9-8dda-6d6201f55495Too excited to care, we checked into our room. The hostel was small but had a cool rooftop in the riad, the name for a traditional Moroccan home. Breakfast was included and we were located dead center in the Medina right next to Jemaa el-Fnaa, the main square in the city. What else could we ask for.0fbc13d0-57bd-49eb-bf49-cbad4baa9f10Steps away from our riad were rows and rows of vendors and stalls. This Medina is the 4th largest in the city  providing its residents and visitors with loads of options on handmade artisanal goods.  Oh the hours spent roaming the alleys.3ea19701-8c82-4ff9-bcf8-afa32f4a6833The city is fortified and historic in every way. Within the tall walls lies beautiful gardens, palaces, mosques, and riads. I didn’t have data so getting lost through the maze was a daily occurrence.  ce396a89-d212-471e-bad3-3905839f43b0We arrived at a special time during the Islam religion, Ramadan. During this time we saw no women out during the day, except during/after sunset, and most of the men we encountered were rather aggressive, it could have been because they were fasting all day or because we were American women wandering the streets. 22d83d83-d0d7-4582-ba9a-a38e11a6320eWe spent three days in Marrakesh wandering about the Medina.b66608b1-c959-4fb5-90fa-ded800e115a8Mesmerized by the way of life and caught off guard with the haggling, we experienced so many new customs that made me both excited yet intimated. 8a45b9ee-fcf6-4503-8ef2-8debf5ec50ecIt seemed there was no set price for any items and haggling was the only way to settle it. Men throughout the souk, or marketplace, shouted and showcased their goods.  It was a bit much but understanding that this was their livelihood put it all in perspective.9f75fdb4-dbd6-4ab7-9879-1a0d70a9ff6eWalking through the souks gave me a glimpse of ancient Morocco. These marketplaces have been around for centuries, traditionally they were all open air markets made up right next to where caravans filled with goods would rest.ff039c47-30db-4d00-8a92-e242d7bb052fOne of my favorite things to do when traveling is visiting markets, I love tasting the food, smelling different spices, and touching goods special to that city or country. 9d41b61b-0b95-416c-be55-67f74c54c790One stop that we had to make was at the ever so talked about Jardin Majorelle. Created by Jacques Majorelle, this beautiful garden comes complete with a beautiful villa.45319a2e-074f-4b0b-bf6c-ecc042347008As of the 1980’s it was purchased by famed designer Yves Saint -Laurent. Today it is open to the public, for a fee of course, but one can wander about the lively garden and access the Musee Yves Saint Laurent. 0e28564d-21ee-4e48-a478-72750c5d395690642a80-1460-4492-94e3-2b5b1c12900fThe garden houses over two and a half acres of plants, including a variety of  succulents. 255e3d96-3fcb-4907-bb1e-dcc403d97b8a50a2e34b-7605-4644-8d3b-7c15425c1efcAfter our stay in Marrakesh we bused it over to the city of Fez.  It is the second largest city in the country and has two Medina quarters, both large and full of history. The vibe in this city was completely different from Marrakesh.  First off, we spent all of our time in Fes es Bali, the largest car free area in the world and oldest fortified part of Fez. e2622b2a-3810-4596-b31a-84ff521bfcefMy experience walking through the Medina wasn’t the most positive. The walls were so high and beige that I felt trapped, and not speaking the language intimidated me when I ran into a group of boys or men.712d1c6a-202e-45a8-9590-d72f15eb43f8 There were a few situations where we were practically forced to give money to some teens. We were constantly tricked and told we were not allowed in some areas because it was “Muslims only”. It turns out this was only a tactic to instill fear and have us ask the men to “guide” us to the location we were looking for. I’m sure if I spoke some french it would have eased tensions but unfortunately I was very afraid to even take out my camera. Therefore, I only have a few photos from Fez, the one above and the ones below.35e83926-ea8b-4288-8531-de061b114259a4eb0a49-e2b1-46ce-ba18-c993ca7a1925To me, the city wasn’t as welcoming. I would love to go back but not during Ramadan. It’s beautiful in its own way but everything from the colors, mood, and markets created a very different ambiance from the city we were just in. To end on a positive note, our hostel was absolutely amazing. The Funky Fez was a true riad decorated with the most vibrant colors. For a small fee you could get yourself a homemade Moroccan breakfast and dinner, which were all absolutely delicious. The sauces, vegetables, honey, and tea were my favorite.ladiesChefchaouen and the Sahara desert were trips we were planning to make during our stay in Fez but there was no time to embark on either adventure. ac0e68a9-3723-4c48-8837-a2eb0afe28bfI have been to a few countries on my own where I didn’t speak the language or practice their religion but here I felt like it was all foreign to me. Next time I return, I will be prepared to communicate better with the locals and exude an air of confidence that could help me walk securely through the tall walls of the Medina.

 

 

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