Exploring Fes, our Tiny Medina Home and the Jewish Quarter

Exploring Fes, our Tiny Medina Home and the Jewish Quarter

On the second day of our time in Fes, we stayed inside for the morning while a rainstorm passed over. Along with cooler temperatures, it gave me a chance to attempt to take pictures of our 700 hundred year-old house. You saw the terrace yesterday, below that there’s a small bedroom. On the next floor down, this little bridgeway connects the kitchen to the bedroom where Rob and I slept. That’s the open courtyard to the left.

We found that putting my cell phone in the top bedroom in tether mode and sitting in the kitchen was the best compromise for internet access and cool temperatures.

These tiny stairs led up from the ground floor to the roof. In places, there were too narrow for Rob to walk up while carrying his 16 inch laptop. Note how the bathroom door opens up to an “alcove” the width of a hand – designed perfectly for breaking your neck in the middle of the night.

The bottom floor was the coolest. Lauren had a little cubby bedroom on one side of the courtyard and there was a small living room on the other side.

It stopped raining before lunch and we set out for a bit of exploration. I needed a taste of non-medieval life for my sanity so we walked to Mezzanine – a trendy expat place, one of the few in the city that serves alcohol. After lunch, we wandered the empty Jardin Jnan Sbil – a true oasis in the city with a couple rivers and ponds among eucalyptus forest.

From there, we walked past one of the palace gates and into the Jewish quarter, with slightly different (almost Chinese-looking to me) architecture. It was “siesta time” on holy Friday and most things were shuttered. All along the way, young men keep telling us that “that way is closed” as a way of trying to get us to hire them to be our guide.
Found the 17th century synagogue down a tiny alley. Paid 10 dirham ($1) to enter and get a tour. There was a group from Israel inside with us. That’s the women’s balcony up top.

They have an old torah written on gazelle skin.

We walked out of the Jewish quarter and past another gate into the medina.

All to the left is a massive palace for the King of Morocco – which looks infinitely nicer than the city inside the walls.

We walked around the medina walls and got a view of the Moroccan countryside to the south.

If you want to shop in Fes, the only place you won’t be scammed is the lovely artisan college over by the bus station. It’s a beautiful building and has a mellow student showcase room where you can buy a handmade large leather overnight bags for $50 and all kinds of ceramics, embroidery and metal works for similarly reasonable prices.

Rcif was “our gate” back into the medina. That cafe behind me to the right is where we sat for hours on end drinking orange juice and hot mint tea while donkeys loaded with leather passed by. And where we waited while Matt coordinated a bike rental with a local guide.

On the other side, the wide open space of the kasbah and a polluted river running past the tanneries.

Rob rode Matt’s rental bike back through the medina.

In the evening, we met up with a former co-worker also in Fes and every other western visitor in the city at the Ruined Garden restaurant, run by a British expat.

Good food and good company. Not the kind of restaurant I’d normally choose while traveling, but the harshness of Fes does make these touristy sports a nice relief.

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