Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Getting lost in the Medina of Fes

Finding the right direction or address is almost impossible in the Medina of Fes. If you make the mistake of asking someone, you don't end up at your destination but in a shop. We followed the recommendation of Lonely Planet and just followed the flow of people and got lost. Somehow, we came across to many important sites by doing so.

When we arrived to Fes the first day evening, there was a welcoming committee waiting for us already. Group of men trying to convince us for various things. Guide of the old town tomorrow, a restaurant suggestion for the evening, suggestion of parking spaces for our bikes etc. It is really annoying dealing with these people especially after driving for 6-8 hours, last one hour in the dark and during heavy rain. My strategy was to ignore them and not even look at their face because when you start talking to them, there is no end. But Jaime is the nice guy among us and responds to them.

When we changed our clothes and came to the door of the hotel, some of these guys were still waiting for us, to take us to the restaurant they take their commission from. We couldn't deal with them anymore and followed the official guide guy and ended up in a touristy restaurant with not so good food.

They really try to convince you to take a guide for visiting the medina. Many lies fly in the air such as we would get lost, the medina is not safe etc. There are so called official guides with an ID and they show you around for sure but also make sure that you go to the multiple shops they collaborate with. Then there are unofficial guides, which makes the rest of the male population in the medina. It questionable how much they know about the history of the Medina and its historical sites but one thing is sure that they also take you to their favourite shops.

Our decision next day was to use a guide called Ahmet, me! I didn't buy the Lonely Planet for nothing right? Jaime was afraid that we would be bothered to much by salesmen without guides but we managed quite well.

The medina, its narrow streets with thousands of shops, bright colors of clothes are sure impressive but I have to say that I wasn't impressed by the largest mosque in Africa. Well, I am from Istanbul and mosques in my hometown are way bigger and impressive for sure.

Moroccans were not extra friendly to me when I mentioned that I am from Turkey. Turkey is really a far away country for them. Except the same religion there seems to be not much common. Some guys mentioned Galatasaray and the Prime Minister Erdogan when they heard that I am Turkish but that's all.

And the food. Yes tajhin and couscous are delicious but after 15 days one looks for variations and they don't exist much. It looks like the whole country is eating tajhin, meat and vegetables cooked in a ceramic container, and couscous.

Last night we followed the recommendation of Lonely Planet and ate in a street restaurant with two tables! It is called Thami's place and I can definitely recommend it. The food was delicious, Thami is a funny guy and we really had a good time.

1 comment:

SKY said...

Okuması çok keyifli olmuş, eline sağlık.
Benim de yolum düşerse Thami ile tanışıp orada yiyeceğim yemeğimi :)