Tag Archives: fes

Grand Taxis and Clocking Lots of Miles

Medersa Bou Inania

I spent the morning in Fes with a quick detour to the Medersa Bou Inania, built between 1350 and 1357. No longer used as a theological school, the decoration is spectacular. Opposite is the strange and mind-boggling 14th century water clock. Of course, I had to go back to Café Clock and liked it as much this time as I did the last. The food and wi-fi are both winners!

And then had my first taxi negotiation! Within cities and towns you can use both grand and petit taxis with the latter being these banged up red bits on wheels that do surprisingly charge by the metre. For non-local travel you need a grand taxi and these have a fixed price that the ‘Controller’ will tell you. The discount when you ask for one is always the same, 100 dirhams no matter what the total cost is – percentage discounts …

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Silk, Pottery and Metalwork in Fes

Metalwork Craftsman

I had to squeeze through a 5 foot passageway to get to the fondouk that has housed a weaving “factory” for several centuries. Sabra is a silk fabric that is traditionally woven from the threads of a cactus plant (also known as Sabra). Strands of silk are removed from the cactus, dyed with natural dyes and woven into amazing fabric. I bought some very pretty silk bedcovers and chenille from the owner whose father, grandfather and more generations than he can remember, have woven Sabra here.

I also saw some gorgeous Fes pottery and mosaic work being made. Whilst I would love to source some for Arastan I really need to come back and spend several days picking a vendor, selecting and checking. This is the kind of place you see, you buy, you pack and you take with you; if you leave it to be packed and shipped later …

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Bronze Lamps, Berber Silver – and Nougat!

Hanging Lamps

In Fes I went to the lamp store I had in mind from the last time I was here. I passed the Place an-Nejjarine that has one of the many beautifully decorated fountains and a restored fondouk that is now a museum. At the Carpenters’ Souk just next to the fountain I saw some of the extravagant thrones used in weddings; these thrones make our Indian red velvet ones look modest!

I spent the greater part of the day haggling and now have some stunning Moroccan handmade bronze lamps on their way to India. While waiting for the owner’s brother or brother-in-law or partner (I really do need to learn some Arabic or French!) I wandered off to check what the other stores had to offer. Nougat was what I found. The lady spoke no English but after discussion using a calculator (if you don’t speak the local language, don’t leave …

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Travel to Fes

Before leaving Marrakech I saw some gorgeous lamps designed by a Frenchman. Unfortunately there is so much imitation going on that they won’t let you take photos. Prices were outrageous by any standard! Apparently the only people buying are interior designers refurbishing 5 star hotels from the large American hotel chain groups.

Then it was time to take the train to Fes. This was easy enough but the train was hot and crowded and took 7 hours. On the way I got to meet a musician from Fes on his way to perform in Rabat; I was astounded when he said he doesn’t really like Fes. (I suppose you always take what you have for granted!) People are very friendly and especially so when you say you are Indian: Bollywood has done much for our public relations!

Originally I intended to visit Marrakech at the end of my trip but …

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