In September 2018, my mother and I ventured over to Morocco for our first mother, daughter holiday! What started out as a wine induced conversation turned into reality, could not be a better trip for the two of us.
My mom and I are both big into tours, so we decided to go for a more inexpensive option of Cosmos Tours to do a Highlight of Morocco. Tours in general are awesome, this would have been my 8th tour or something like that, most of them being with Contiki. Which I cannot say good enough things about, and hopefully one day I will blog about my overall experience about it, but for now, Morocco!
Morocco has been on my bucket list for just about forever, it’s one of the more liberal Middle Eastern countries and in my opinion a really safe place to travel. So, we hopped on a plane and started our tour of Morocco. One of my favorite days of the tour was when we visited the Old Medina of Fez! This Medina located in the old capital of Morocco is the largest Medina in the world. I found it to be beautifully preserved. We had a guided walking tour that day, which I honestly could not be more thankful for, this place is a MAZE! The Medina is narrow, if you don’t like crowds, my suggestion would be to suck it up and go anyways, which is exactly what I did. I stayed close to our guide the entire time, which was a nice old man who spoke excellent English. Myself, being the youngest person in the entire tour by at least 20 years had no problem keeping up. If you are travelling with some older adventurers, be warned, there isn’t many places to stop and take a break unless you go to a restaurant, so be prepared to pay, and there are zero public bathrooms, so again, be prepared to pay. ALSO, DO NOT take any pictures of the vendors, they will flip out, they will follow you, they will curse you and your mother. Our first stop was to a ‘madrasa’ which is an Islamic school, this was not a functioning school but we got some time to explore around the courtyard and different rooms.
Afterwards, our guide walked us around all of the various vendor stalls, or souks, which was anything from sweets, meats and produce, or metal goods. We did stop at of course a carpet stop, which at this point in our tour was our 3rd carpet store. I politely asked if they have access to a rooftop and boy did I luck out!! One of the sales boys led me up the winding stairs to the top of the Souk and did the views not disappoint! It’s easy to forget you are in an entirely different time as this place is 100% within its own time capsule.
Afterwards, we visited Chouara Tannery, this is one of the three existing tanneries left in Fez, and built recently in the 11th century!!! It has kept within its ways since the beginning on how it operates, which it a little crazy to me. Due to this it has made the tannery into the main tourist attraction of the Medina. Tanneries are used to make leather and you pack the hides into these round stone pools which are filled with various mixtures of cow urine, pigeon feces, quicklime, salt, and water – to clean and soften the tough skins. YUM. The smell was honestly like nothing I have ever experienced in my life, they give you fresh mint to put under your nose, but it really doesn’t help. Between the winding quartered turn stairs to get to the top of the roof and the smell, it took everything in me not to pass out. But that’s just me being overly dramatic.
From there we continued to walk through the Medina, really, I was pretty thankful we had a guide. This is one place I’d suggest not to go without. There are zero street signs or any public maps, you have a bunch of people offering to help, but expect to pay and to haggle for it. This is just a must visit in Morocco for this exact reason, it has completely kept its rough and raw feel since inception. This is a place any Westerner will feel out of their comfort zone in but isn’t that the whole point of traveling in the first place?!