Danny Robins travels to glorious FEZ and meets some medina regulars. Ryanair who published this piece will not be flying to Fez in near future……crazy but true!!!
Back rubs, strange spices and dodging donkeys… when I asked you what I should do on a weekend in Fez, your tips led me down dark alleys, into steamy rooms and towards some intriguing characters
“Explore the Medina. You’ll get lost but that’s the fun” Mark Leyland via Facebook ”The word you have to remember,” says Hakim, nimbly avoiding a high-speed donkey, “is ‘balak’. It’s Arabic for ‘get out of the way fast’.” There are 9,600 winding, labyrinthine, car-free, donkey-filled streets in the Medina; and Hakim, who’s been guiding people here for years, knows them all.So where he leads, I follow. “If you get lost, stay where you are and I will come and find you in two or three days,” he says. As Mark will know, exploring the Medina makes you feel like you’ve opened a portal in the space-time continuum and travelled back a thousand years. We stop at the tanneries, a truly medieval sight where men clean and dye leather in pools of quicklime, salt and pigeon droppings. “The third-hardest job in the world,” Hakim tells me. “The first is crab fishing in Alaska, the second is being a tour guide!” Later we meet knife-grinders and weavers, and gawp at astoundingly bling wedding chairs. Then, over a sweet mint tea, Hakim explains his theory on why people who grow up in Fez tend not to leave. “We are fish,” he smiles, “we cannot live outside the aquarium.”
Book tours with Hakim on +212 671 074542 or firstname.lastname@example.org
“Sample lots of the local food. It’s delish!” Jenny Sweet via Facebook So, to get this straight,” I say, “if you want to get pregnant, you eat a hedgehog, wrap a blanket around you, sweat loads, then wake up the next day fertile?” “I think so,” says Gail. We’re in a shop that sells” every spice known to mankind” and right now the owner is excitedly explaining, in a mix of French and Arabic, his homemade fertility tips. For the record, he also advises standing over a fire and wafting smoke up your dress. Gail runs Fez Food, a company that organises food-tasting tours of the Medina. You get to sample honey, nibble all sorts of delicacies and sniff spices. You’re right Jenny, Fez is a foodie’s dream. Gail introduces me to Mike Richardson who runs the famous Café Clock. He used to be maître d’ at posh London restaurant The Ivy, but gave it all up for a life in Morocco. As we wander through the Medina, Mike’s in his element, engaging in shouted conversations with almost every street vendor. “You speak Arabic then?” I ask. “Nope,” says Mike. www.fez-food.com,www.cafeclock.com
“Go to a hammam for a nice relaxing massage” Stuart Jones via Facebook Thanks Stuart, thanks a bunch. I’m with Amine,another friend of Gail’s, at his local hammam, getting that nice relaxing massage you so kindly recommended; a massage that has so far involved being slapped, jumped on, and having my leg bent around another man’s head. At one point, when a bucket of water is thrown at me, I get up, optimistically assuming this is the end. “Not yet!” shouts Amine gleefully, as the masseur notes my attempted escape. As my skin is rubbed with a very rough cloth I think it can’t get more painful, before my moustachioed assailant goes into my shorts and continues the process on my buttocks. I am of course exaggerating for comedic effect. Well, slightly, the buttocks bit is definitely true. The massage is pretty amazing though and I leave feeling better than I have for ages. “The noises I made, do people usually do that?” I ask Amine. “Yes, this is normal,” he says, though I think he’s trying to make me feel better for being such a wuss. www.plan-it-fez.com
I stayed at Riad Maison Bleue, a tranquil, beautifully restored house near the Medina. Take a cooking class with Tariq, their head chef. He’ll take you to the market to buy ingredients then teach you to cook your own lunch. It’s hard work, but brilliant fun too. Or just eat at the hotel’s sister restaurant La Maison Bleue. www.maisonbleue.com
Thanks everyone! Here are just a few more of your top Fez tweets: “Check out the Roman ruins at Volubilis – great mosaics” @mikewritesabit ”Try Morrocan wine, it’s surprisingly good” @dougdirector ”Eat at Dar Roumana in the Medina. They send someone to collect you cos it’s so hidden away!” @topolovsky Tell Danny where to go! What’s your must-visit place in a Ryanair city? Tell us about it by email, Facebook or Twitter: www.hello.letsgo-mag.com ,www.facebook.com/letsgomag, @helloletsgo