Lost and found on the alleys of Fez

Lost and found on the alleys of Fez

After a long, tiring (I seem to be using quite a lot this adjective to describe this trip.. but yes, it was tiring to always be on the go and rapidly move to one place to the other during the mid-summer heat) and full of surprises (I think I will write a book about it!) bus ride we finally arrived in Fez, the city I was the most eager to see and feel from the whole Morocco. I was looking forward to freely get lost on the old alleyways of one of the largest and best kept medinas in the world, with more than 3,000 streets. I even had a recipe (discovered somewhere online, doh): downhill is to get to the core of the medina, uphill is for getting out of it – due to the landscape of the area. What I lacked was time, as we wanted to see so much in just a couple of days. Sooooo we had to hire a local guide (and another long story about negotiating failure from ourselves) who efficiently showed us the main landmarks and points of interest of the city (from the famous leather tanneries to madrassas to workshops and decorated alleys we wouldn’t have found otherwise).

When we arrived in Fez it was during the last days of Ramadan and everyone was preparing for the event, roaming the narrow streets in a search for new clothes & accessories (apparently this is a thing). Young girls were walking around proudly with their new henna designs covering their hands. I was expecting to enter a  traditional city, with women all covered with their mysterious veils and man wearing their long clothing, djellaba, I was expecting to feel like an intruder. However, I found out a community somewhere in between, leaving the old customs and embracing the new ones. A mixture of Western-borrowed habits (as in terms of clothing, thinking and manners) with their own century-old lifestyle, which I thought to be a bit unpleasant at times for the simple reason that in my head they didn’t fit together yet.

On another note, I was relieved to notice that the people from Fez were less harassing than the ones from Marrakesh, which was such a welcome relief. You could walk around the streets and look at the products without people trying to push you inside their shop and oblige you to buy something. The only rule was to not stare too much or touch too much the products. This doesn’t mean we didn’t have no incidents, as it was easy to see on our confused faces from a mile far that it was our first time there, passing as easy prey for any money maker on the street.

But with all the chaos and the randomness of the streets, I loved Fez and am willing to go back one day soon and this time blend in with the rhythm of the old medina and wander freely around the streets. It’s amazing how many faces it can have and how many surprises it can hide. I randomly discovered a hidden narrow staircase behind a veil at a random street merchant clothing stand. I still wonder where it was leading to!

Did I tell you how weird it all looks at the times when everything is closed? It can get even a bit creepy, as the streets are literally empty and everything looks deserted. Just a random worker sleeping on the floor in his own shop. Even the stray cats were having a siesta on shadowed stairs.

Oh, and I loved so much the straw roofs covering some of the streets and beautifully filtering the light…

Guys, I’m seriously thinking of writing a book about this whole trip! So much stuff happened in so little time (you know, tiny stories that make the beauty of a trip and that you can tell at parties and friend gatherings), that I could go on and on for days and I’m afraid I’d bore you if I spilt them all here at once.

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