Morocco - 5 Weeks in another century

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by tomcat9, May 3, 2021.

  1. tomcat9

    tomcat9 Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2011
    Oddometer:
    121
    Location:
    El Paso, Tx
    Morocco

    September 16th - October 21st 2017



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    It has been more than 10 years now that I have read Ride-Reports here in the ADV Forum and I am always fascinated by how engaging the reports are written and what great pictures are posted. I spent so many hours reading them and then I often started dreaming about my own next tour. After so much passive reading, I think the time has come to contribute something by my own, even if I'm a little insecure because I'm not a writer and it’s in my second language. On the other hand, what should happen, nobody is allowed to boo me here :-)

    I've already been on a couple of tours by motorcycle - sometimes alone, sometimes with my wife and sometimes - like in this tour - as a three - me with my very good friends Tom and Heike.

    I'm from Germany and that's why I've had the pleasure of doing several shorter tours in Italy, Austria, France, Switzerland and surprise.... Germany. My first long tour was to Corsica, France. I didn't get my driver's license until I was 27 - in El Paso Texas. I've spent many years there and right now I'm back here. From here I have already done many tours through the USA, we mostly camped than. I've already toured all of the western states by motorcycle and I've also made a tour to the east to the Smoky Mountains. Mexico should of course not be missing because of its proximity to El Paso and so we drove through this wonderful country for 6 weeks in 2015. This summer it's the US again and this time I will go to Maine, from there to Sturgis and back to El Paso.

    So, enough about me, now I want to tell you what we experienced in Morocco.

    We made our way to Morocco from Germany.
    There were four of us planned for Morocco, two couples, but unfortunately we had to change plans and were only three for the tour.

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    We started planning the morocco trip a little more than a year in advance. On the one hand we all had to be on vacation at the same time and on the other hand the ferry had to be booked. It had to be decided whether spring or fall. On this trip we didn't want to camp because there were four of us planned (on two motorcycles) and we would have had to restrict ourselves too much. The decision was made in favor of fall, even if we had to come back to Germany via the Alps in mid October.



    Here some teaser pictures until I get to the first two days....
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    That's me....
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    That's my companions...
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    The wildlife in Morocco
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    School day
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    Tea time...
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    Window with a view....
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    Coming next...The ride to the ferry...
    #1
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  2. tomcat9

    tomcat9 Been here awhile Supporter

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    On September 16th in the evening the ferry was supposed to leave Genoa, Italy. My friends live about 2 driving hours from us and so they came to us the evening before starting day and after a sleepless night we set off for Austria and Italy the next day. Why a sleepless night? They had left the passports at home and by chance we noticed that just we were about to call it a night. Oh oh ….
    We then drove with my car two hours to my friends house and two hours back that night. At some point at 3:00 a.m. we were in bed. Well, that started good :-)



    The start of the journey
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    The route
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    We had almost two days to get to the ferry port in Genoa, Italy.

    The ferry left at 6:00 p.m. and we had to be there 4!!! hours before. Normally we don't drive the Autobahn, but this time it was just the journey to the adventure and so we bought a “Pickerl” (toll sticker) for the Austria motorway for the first time. We drove to Brescia(I) via Garmisch-Patenkirchen(D) - Innsbruck(A) - Bozen (I)- Trento(I).

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    In September it gets cold in the Alps
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    When we got to Brescia(I), we took a room and went to eat in a nice Italien Restaurant with live music.
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    Now it was only about 155 miles for the following day to get to the ferry by 2:00 p.m. After a hearty breakfast we set off towards Genoa. Breakfast in Italy is usually just an espresso and a croissant. Fortunately, there has been a full breakfast for tourists for some time now and that's what we got.



    The route to Genoa was surprisingly interesting and nice and winding at the end.
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    Genoa itself was a disaster to drive. The ferry port was poorly or not at all signposted and so we drove in circles until we were finally in the right place.

    We ended up asking someone who should know the area very well, an ambulance driver.
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    We had to get our boarding-passes and the vouchers for the prepaid meals. Since food is expensive when you buy it on the boat. It is much better you buy the meals complete in advance with the tickets. It looks like a lot but is still cheaper then buying it one by one.

    And then, waiting to get on board…
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    Still waiting to get on board…I am ready to embark…. the rest of the folk is still relaxed :-)
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    The queue grew and we were no longer the only ones with motorcycles. Of course, the other motorcycles were examined and the typical conversations arose about where to go and how long, whether you are on your way home or just starting. The ferry went to Tangier Med (Morocco) via Barcelona (E). Quite a few left the ferry in Spain.



    Our ferry. Looks like a parking garage… Bild_11.jpg


    ....to be continued
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  3. tomcat9

    tomcat9 Been here awhile Supporter

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    ......

    Finally we made it on the ship.

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    During the two-day trip to Tanger Med, there is no way to go into the parking garage to get to your motorcycle. That means you have to take everything you need upstairs immediately. I think we would have had the opportunity in Barcelona to go down to our stuff, but I can't remember exactly. Tank bag, Givi topcase and a sidecase bag had to be taken into the cabin. And than relax for two days...:jkam
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  4. tomcat9

    tomcat9 Been here awhile Supporter

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    48 hours on the way to Africa ..
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    The ferry left Genoa on time and headed to Barcelona. In total we will be on the ferry for almost exactly 48 hours. This also means that we will arrive in Tangier Med in the evening at about 6pm.


    We leave Genoa

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    We treated ourselves to cabins and I had one to myself on the way to Morocco. The cabins can be occupied by 4 people and since we planned the trip home with three people from the beginning , we only booked one cabin for the three of us for the way back. My wife would have flown home from Marrakech. The upper cabinets are beds that fold out. The cabins are small and smell funny but the are also comfy.

    The cabin

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    As mentioned we booked the meal in advance and I had the extra voucher from my wife, so I always had double of everything. Well, I like to eat and so it was OK for me :-).
    In the end we had more rolls than we could eat. The food was strictly regulated. Every single roll was counted exactly. However, the food was better than we thought it would be.

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    We also bought immersion heaters and took them with us, so there was always coffee and a little pastry in the afternoon. Not only do I like to eat, I also have a sweet tooth. The immersion heater for 8 euros has definitely paid off.


    Here in the stern of the ship.

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    There were two full days to kill and the best way to stay busy is to plan the route and discuss options. We took out our travel books and maps and made plans for the next couple of days to come.

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    Getting used to the dress code

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    While we were waiting to embark in Genoa, we met a couple from Austria, Heidi and Kurt. We saw them on the ship and chatted about motorcycles, tours and so on. We will see them later again in Morocco.

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    to be continued…
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  5. zadok

    zadok Long timer

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    I'm in! This is beginning to look good.:-)
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  6. tomcat9

    tomcat9 Been here awhile Supporter

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    ....

    It was really good that we could start the immigration and customs process to Morocco on board of the ship. We still had to go through the immigration at the entry point in Tangier Med, but we could at least begin the process. We were already in the system and we didn't have that much to do on board anyway.


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    Got my first stamp from Morocco
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    Now it wasn't far to Morocco and as you can see we are between Europe and Africa. I don't get that close to both continents so often :-)
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    The rock of Gibraltar

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    The two days were gone really fast and we docked at the port in Tangier Med. The sun was already setting and we still had to buy insurance, go through immigration and drive the 35 miles to Tangier to the hotel.

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    You can see the expression on Tom's face quite well, just anticipation. We're finally going. A new continent by motorcycle. Our two Austrians can be seen in the background.

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    And there we sat and waited for the immigration to let us through. The insurance was bought and off we went to Tangier. The insurance was easy to get and not to expensive. That was easier as to try to buy it trough a german company and it was way cheaper.

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    Now we were officially in Morocco, had our bikes through customs and insured and we got our first Dirhams which we got basically next to the insurance office.



    The first night in the hotel in Tangier was booked in advance through an internet site . The ride to Tangier was already after sunset and we almost took the wrong street. Fortunately we found the more western style Hotel without any further challenges and were settled.


    After checking in we went to eat something. There was a shopping center nearby and we found something simple to eat there. Meat skewers with french fries and a coke.

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    Now the motorcycle tour on the African continent finally begins.


    #6
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  7. tomcat9

    tomcat9 Been here awhile Supporter

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    Thanks, appreciate it... felt a bit lonely :photog
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  8. tomcat9

    tomcat9 Been here awhile Supporter

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    The ride to Chefchaouen

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    I can’t remember the beginning of the day at all. I totally forgot
    what we had for breakfast and whether it was good, how we loaded the bikes and how the hotel as a whole was. :dunnoI know that it was an Ibis hotel and that it was OK.



    Our first destination in Morocco was Chefchaouen. We started shortly after 10 a.m. and had
    no rush at all, as the drive to Chefchaouen was only about 85 miles.
    On the way out of the city of Tangier we saw two motorcyclists who immediately caught our eye.
    Our two friends from Austria - Heidi and Kurt.

    Heidi...
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    Kurt...
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    We had the opportunity to take photos of them,
    while they drove. We didn't plan to do the trip together, so we took photos, waved and drove past them.

    The road was in good shape, the tar was good, we had a couple of nice curves and it was a good start in the adventure. In September it is still quite warm in the area.

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    After a few miles we had our first break and sat in a cafe on a terrace next to the road
    and ordered mint tea. Heidi and Kurt came along joined us and so we had a very sweet mint tea together and chatted a bit.

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    More than four weeks of vacation ahead of us, no time pressure and drinking tea on the terrace on a sunny day….. Yeah, that's a good feeling.


    Nonetheless, we had to leave again at some point. So, get on the motorcycle and go collect impressions.

    Just looking at the signs with Arabic characters makes it clear that you are no longer in Europe. At the beginning the street was still quite wide and the cities a bit bigger. Later they became much more rural and the streets narrower. The cities became more like villages and the mosques were the most noticeable buildings.

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    The landscape was very varied and I often didn't even know where to look first. You have to get used to the many new impressions.

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    At entering the city of Chefchaouen, it was already lunch time. In Morocco the people sit outside a lot and that suited us.
    We also enjoy it in Germany, as long as the weather allows it, to sit outside on the terrace or in the beer garden.
    It was a small snack bar or café as we should see it often. So, stop first and having lunch. It was already shortly after noon.


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    To be continued ....
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  9. tomcat9

    tomcat9 Been here awhile Supporter

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    ........

    Now we had to find a hotel to stay and after we had actually already passed the Hotel Alkhalifa, we went there again and ended up taking it.
    And what do we see when we drove into the yard ..... The motorcycles of our two Austrians. For us not having it planed, it works out pretty well. :-)
    Chefchaouen is not exactly small and yet we ended up in the same hotel.





    The entrance to the hotel
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    View from the stairs of the hotel

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    The lobby

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    Checking in and off we go, exploring the city.




    Laundry is still washed by hand ...

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    Here, too, you can enjoy yourself

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    Chefchaouen has a little over 40,000 inhabitants and is also called the blue city and is located in the Rif-Mountains. The blue is supposed to protect against the evil eye and was used a lot. For centuries it was considered a holy city and foreigners were forbidden to enter it on threat of death penalty.
    The narrow streets and the dominant blue color make this city special.

    The city gate
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    Blue…

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    To be continued...
    #9
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  10. Andy_A

    Andy_A Adventurer

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    Looks very intersting. I'm in.
    #10
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  11. tomcat9

    tomcat9 Been here awhile Supporter

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    ……


    Cat...

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    Transportation

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    City life

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    I got some trouble from the bread supplier. He didn't like the fact that I photographed him. I actually wanted to photograph the bread…. from then on I was a little bit more careful ...

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    Blue again

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    We went to a small restaurant for dinner. You had to go down a few steps to get to the dining room. The room was very cozy and the food was good. There I had my first Tajine, with beef, potatoes, onions and ..... plums. I was really surprised that I liked it.

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    Chefchaouen's kasbah

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    It was getting late and we went back to the hotel fully laden with great impressions.

    It was already 10:30 p.m.


    Another night photo and then off to sleep ...
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    #11
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  12. tomcat9

    tomcat9 Been here awhile Supporter

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    20. September

    Today's tour takes us to the first of the four royal cities - Fès (or Fez). We decided to take the route away from the main road. The N2 and N13 are slightly better developed roads. We were on the road all day for just 130 miles and the poor condition meant that we had to concentrate the whole time.


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    First of all, we had to put our flags on the motorcycle. We bought the Moroccan flag and attached it to the German flag with electric-tape.

    That's how we rode in Mexico too and we liked it.

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    Typical village entrance in the country.
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    The road was sometimes paved and sometimes unpaved. Not an issue for the locals.

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    At 12 o'clock sharp we found something for a break. It was a hot day and we needed something cold to drink and a bit shadow. We were not hungry enough for lunch though. After the break on we went through the beautiful moroccan landscape.

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    Here we were on a dirt road again
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    Donkeys are still used a lot. As a personal means of transport or as a „truck“.

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    There were always people walking on the streets, even when we thought there was no town anywhere nearby.

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    To be continued …
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  13. tomcat9

    tomcat9 Been here awhile Supporter

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    ....

    Safety is not taken that seriously here. Hold on tight and off you go. Better to drive badly than go well….

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    That was the first somewhat larger city and we were now a little hungry. We didn't know if there was anything to eat between here and Fes, so we looked for a restaurant for lunch. The small town was really run down, but we still found a small restaurant. We had chicken with fries and bread.

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    The restaurant

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    A few miles outside of town we came through this crowd. Was like a small transshipment point for commuters and goods. There was also a school right before that area.

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    And again…. the beautiful landscape

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    To be continued …
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  14. tomcat9

    tomcat9 Been here awhile Supporter

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    Arrival in Fès…..


    We were pretty exhausted from the strenuous ride and all the impressions. The heat did the rest. We arrived in Fez and checked our map and travel guide to find a hotel.

    If you stop in Morocco and if you are recognizable as tourists as we are, then you will also be helped, whether you want it or not.
    Now we had a helper. We called him Rasheed.
    We fought for a long time not to get helped, but in the end we followed him to a Riad and we took it for two nights. Raschid more or less accompanied us throughout the entire stay.



    The first impression was not was we expected and we were unsure to take a look inside. Here you can see why.

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    But as soon as you enter the Riad, everything looks completely different ...
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    We shared a room. Tom and Heike upstairs, me downstairs. Was more than big enough and looked like from thousand and one nights ..

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    We were offered a dinner on the roof terrace and we gladly accepted it. It was such a beautiful location, the weather was fantastic and the food was excellent. If I remember correctly, they even got us two bottles of beer.

    So, the exhausting day could come to an end.

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    That was just the starter…

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    We booked two nights at once, the price per night wasn't cheap but OK.
    However, at dinner we didn't ask what the dinner cost and so it was the most expensive dinner in Morocco.

    From now on we always asked….
    #14
  15. tomcat9

    tomcat9 Been here awhile Supporter

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    21.September





    Fez was founded by Idris I. in the 8th century. We will be in Moulay Idris later on the trip and see the tomb mosque of Idris I.

    The royal city of Fez is the third largest city in Morocco with a little over 1 million inhabitants and it is the oldest of the four royal cities.

    The old town has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1981 and is a great example of an oriental city.



    Today was planned as a day without motorcycle.
    Raschid convinced us to get a guide and surprisingly had one on the hand.
    The guide picked us up after breakfast.

    We had breakfast on the roof terrace. The breakfast came with the room and as you can see, nothing was missing and we enjoyed the food.

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    Our guide was an elderly, gaunt man. He had a little difficulty speaking but he had a sound knowledge and was able to tell us a lot about Fez.

    We were picked up from the Riad Khouloud in a large new car in the morning and we first drove to Marinier Tombs, located above Fez with a great view over the old town of Fez.

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    Holy places and royal buildings have green roofs in Morocco.

    Here the Moulay Idris Mausoleum

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    Then we went into the city to the royal palace. As you can see, there is also a green roof. The palace was closed to the public since it is the royal palace of the King of Morocco. It dates back to the 13th Century.



    The Royal Palace or Dar al-Makhzen (House of the Makhzan)

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    Not exactly the standard door

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    The guide was a certified guide and came from the official tourism association. That's why we went to a ceramics factory afterwards and saw how these great vases, plates, ashtrays and fountains are made.

    Countless mosaics. We were shown how the clay vases are made and also how the small tiles are cut. Each of the workers is currently making one shape of the small tiles. All individually with the hammer.

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    One colour, one shape….

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    Of course there was also a shop where you could buy these works of art right away, with delivery service to your front door in Germany.


    Here you can see all the different shapes and colours of the tiles…
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    Tom really thought about putting one of these fountains in his garden and so we had time in the shop until Tom inquired about how it could be handled. When we finished negotiating, we went to the market in town.



    The relationship between humans and animals is a bit different here than we are used to it. At least what we see in Europe and the USA.

    There were not only chickens here, but also ducks, pigeons and other exotic species.

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    Hedgehog
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    To be continued...
    #15
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  16. docwyte

    docwyte Long timer

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    In for more
    #16
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  17. bigjohnsd

    bigjohnsd '14 BMW R1200 GS Adv Supporter

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    Makes me want to go!
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  18. tomcat9

    tomcat9 Been here awhile Supporter

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    The marketplace is as busy as you would imagine it to be in Morocco. The alleys are narrow, loud and with lots of smells. There is pretty much everything for sale you could need.

    Busy
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    This is the entrance to the Mosque of the Andalusians. It was founded in the 9th century and the
    unusual thing is that it was founded by a woman, Maryam bint Mohammed bin Abdullah al-Fihri. At the same time, her sister founded the Qarawiyyin Mosque, now the University of Fez.


    Mosque of the Andalusians

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    The alleys are really narrow ...
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    One of the many beautiful gates

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    Market life…

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    He beats the whole day ...

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    Inside the Koran school Medersa Atterine

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    The next stops were the tannery quarter and a weaving mill. The overview of the tannery is impressive. You can see all the wool that is left over, the paint pots in which the material is dyed. You can watch the whole process from above. Hard and probably unhealthy work. In the weaving mill they showed us how the cloths are woven and explained the different qualities to us. We were also clearly taught how to make a Bedouin headgear - just the thing for an ADVler :D
    After tough negotiations, I actually bought a fine cloth for my wife as a souvenir - of course still way too expensive :-)

    But we had a lot of fun and almost felt a bit like a package tourist that day.
    :D

    Of course, the tannery shouldn't be missing

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    Show your colors ...

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    When buying my souvenir

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    To be continued...
    #18
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  19. tomcat9

    tomcat9 Been here awhile Supporter

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    After buying the souvenir we walked through the old town again to eat something in a restaurant. We probably wouldn't have gone to this restaurant if the guide hadn't led us there. It was good and a bit more expensive. Thanks to our guide, we are now traveling as a normal tourist and not as a backpack tourist.


    Butcher…
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    In the restaurant ... good and a little expensive

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    Transport of dangerous goods

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    It can get tight at times ... keep your eyes open ...

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    We had the opportunity to look into a pharmacy. I don't remember what exactly the two women did, but it looks like they sorted something ...
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    The pharmacy …

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    On the way home we were able to look into a mosque from the outside. Here you can see the believers doing ritual washing ...

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    When we arrived at the riad, we had tea on the roof terrace. We could use the break.

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    After the tea break we went out on our own and plunged into the fray. In the evening there is even more going on than at noon. And that on a completely normal Thursday.



    Croweded …

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    Very close to our riad….

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    We had an entertaining day in Fez. The guide showed us a lot that we probably wouldn't have seen, even if it was touristy in some places. All in all, it was a good decision to have the guide.

    We had dinner again in the riad on the roof terrace, but this time we asked the price beforehand and it was a bit cheaper, but not as opulent as the day before.

    Well, you can't have it all…


    #19
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  20. MrBob

    MrBob On a whim Supporter

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    Fascinating trip. Thanks for sharing. Attending this music festival has long been a dream of mine.

    Fes Festival of World Sacred Music 2021
    October 2021
    #20