Saturday, November 21, 2009

Morocco - beware the cheap itineraries!

Recently The View from Fez decided to look at what travel agents were saying about visiting the Fez Medina. To our horror (disgust?) we discovered that many companies and internet sites were suggesting it is a "one day or half day destination"!

This is typical:

The Fez Medina

The narrow winding streets are a maze for the unwary, and taking a half or full day guided tour may be the best way to see all the sights the Fez medina has to offer on your holiday in Morocco.Traditional craftsmen still make and ply their wares in one room workshops, and overburdened donkeys are still the only form of transport that can be used in the Medina.
Given that the Fez Medina has over nine thousand alleys, hundreds of extraordinary buildings, superb madrassas, libraries and craft centres, such a claim as made on the website quoted above is downright misleading.

So if you are travelling to Morocco and your itineray says" Day 6 : FEZ
After breakfast, your day will be devoted to the visit of Fes, the Religious capital of the country : The Medieval medina with its attarine & Bouanania Medersas, the Nejjarine Fountain. The Moulay Idriss Mausoleum and the Quaraouine mosque. Moroccan lunch at a traditional restaurant in the medina. Afternoon , visit of Fes Jdid. Dinner & accommodation at the hotel."... it is time to have a long talk to your travel agent.

Fez, as the oldest intact medina on the planet, deserves more than a one day guided tour. This is a place to savour, to experience, to discover, bit by bit. There is music, food and Moroccan culture to be explored and the very minimum time should be a week.

Fez is a living working city - and fascinating

The use of a guide may give you a sense of the place, but in order to fully appreciate the medina, to shop without hassles and to discover both the fine cuisine and the delightful street food takes time.

There are other ways of seeing the Medina without guides. There are six thematic itineraries signposted through the medina, allowing you to visit the medina on your own according to your interests. Each of the themed excursions has a different color, have been You just have to follow signs of one color depending on the theme you have chosen.

Sitting in a cafe, watching the world go by, is a time honoured tradition in Fez and one not simply reserved for the locals. Yes, come to Fez, but take time to explore the city and you will be well rewarded.


Anonymous said...

AGree with the tendancy to skim over such an important place as Fes; however I do feel that a nice visit can be done in 4 days and that still gives times for some just relaxing and taking in the sights and smells and sounds ...sure a week would be nice but realistically most travelers at least from USA are wanting to get a taste of the whole country and a two week vacation is probably the longest we have. We have visited this past summer for 6 nights and it was great but only after years ago coming on the grand tour and wanting to explore in depth. I personally can't stand most places just for one night...most is spent checking in and out.

Jillian said...

'Scuse me? Fez is not the last intact medina on the planet, it is the OLDEST intact medina. Please don't forget your neighboring city of Meknes, which typically gets even worse treatment by the tourist industry (which I'm glad about - you can keep your tourists!)

Sandy McCutcheon said...

Dear Jillian - please accept our profoundly Meknes regrets for the error!

fafifoernik said...

And it is also not the oldest, as Damascus is maybe 1000 years older... Albeit not quite as intact. But Fes is the nicer one, anyway. (Besides, it's Fes, فاس, not Fez, فاز

Anonymous said...

I was wondering why the title is The View From Fez not Fes as when I asked about it the summer while touring with a gentleman born in Fes he explained Fez is the hat and Fes is the city....the blog is however very very interesting and informative.

Sandy McCutcheon said...

The explanation is simple! Fez is how most English speakers spell it. Fes is French! The corect transliteration would be Fas- however for Google searches Fez is more efficient - simple!

Sabina said...

I've only been to Fez three times, each time just for a day. But next time Im staying four weeks! See you in January. =)

Stephina Suzzane said...

For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move. Flights to Khartoum