Life in Medina part II – Tanger blues 

Tangier was the second city we visited during our Morocco excursion. And if one knows that the next destination is a sunny place on the cost of the Mediterranean, one just can’t wait to get there. So were we! We shortened our time in Fez, jumped on the train, hoping to reach Tangier just before the sunset…

…it turns out the train service in Morocco is not that great, disturbances are common and not very surprising for locals. So 300 km and 8 hours later, just before the midnight, we arrived to Tangier.

Leaving 1000 year old Fez’ Medina and arriving to the modern Tangier’s train station felt like a time travel. The surroundings were quite different from what we left behind: skyscrapers with the international hotel names on them, perfect roads etc…

Then the taxi driver ‘by mistake’ took us to the similarly sounding hotel on the other side of the city, and we were back to reality. The defense mode was on again.

It was the middle of the night when we finally reach our little Dar Jameel hotel, right in the middle of the Medina. And yet again Morocco did its magic! Shabby on the outside, but breathtaking inside. We sat down for some mint tea and absorbed the beauty of Moroccan signature interior design, its colors and structures.

The next morning after the traditional breakfast on the rooftop we started to discover the old and new Tangier.

Tangier is blue

In Tangier, Medina blends in the mixture of different shades of blue, some from the sky and some from the sea. The white-blue houses, shops, pottery, carpets… Everything is blue! img_6345img_6376img_6360img_6342img_6368img_6377img_6344

Stairway to Kasbah

The Medina here is like a mountain. Climb it! It gets better with every stair you take. On the top of the mountain you will find Kasbah museum, which previously served as residence for Morocco’s sultans. It was closed for us, but I wish more luck for you.

Again, Medina here is a maze, enjoy it, get lost in it, peak into the local life, and of course, sip the mint tea on every corner.

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The cool Tangier

Due to its proximity to Europe, and the recent political situation, over the past decades Tangier has become a cool place to visit. With its art nouveau buildings, 70s style cinemas, the legendary cafes in  petit and grand socco, Tangier is full  of tourists, artists, traders. Again, it’s like a time travel back to when deals were made by shaking hands, and bargaining was an art on its own.img_6371img_6366img_6335img_6355img_6354img_6353img_6370img_6369img_6336img_6365

The new Tangier

The girl that we met on the train told us:

“You will love Tangier. It’s like New York. It never sleeps.”

In the search for this Tangier, we left the Medina, so see a little part of the new city.

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And then it was the end of our short holidays. We took the white Mercedes taxi to the airport,  leaving behind this newly discovered life in Medina. Morocco is not an easy country to travel: the tourist here equals the walking wallet, not everything works smoothly, be ready to bargain till you drop. But these are the minor things.

Morocco is beautiful! Still untouched by western trends, at least in its Medinas…

Go! See it for yourself!..

Life in Medina part I – Fez, Morocco

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When days start to get shorter and shorter here in Brussels, the best way to keep your vitamin D high is to find a sunny weekend escape destination. To be honest, I have never heard about Fez before finding a cheap Ryanair ticket. But  as soon as I saw Google describing Fez as Morocco’s cultural capital, I did not need to know more.

It was the last weekend of October, 3 hours flight, 30 minutes drive from the airport and we found ourselves in a 1000 years old Fes el Bali, a world heritage site. We had 2 days in front of us to learn everything we need to know about Fez and what’s life like in this Medina.

Medina is a Market

First of all, Medina is a market, and here you will be offered to buy beautiful artisan handicrafts (leather, pottery and of course carpets are Fez’s specialties), you will also be intensively approached by the locals offering you a private guide, a very special shop, the best restaurant, and many other ‘hidden secrets’. The thing a bout the market is that you need to know how to bargain, and to say no, and you will need to say no here many times…

A little advice, if you are on the budget or you  are really not interesting in buying anything, the easiest way to do it is by not entering any shop. Shop keepers here are very skilled sellers and they know  how to do it. It will only take them to see a doubt in your eyes and you will end up leaving a shop with a carpet/lamp or a tea set…

All sorts of leather goods are Fez’s specialty. Head to the tannerie Chouara,  the biggest open air leather coloring fabric. It is a big tourist attraction (and a trap). Be ready for a mix of smells and to say no to  very persistent sellers and ‘guides’.

Donkeys of Medina

The 9000 tiny streets of medina are closed to cars therefore donkeys do the transportation job here. They carry anything and everything, from Coca Cola cans to gas containers.

Medina is beautiful

The walls of Fez guards hidden beauties, waiting to be discovered by you. You will need to work hard to find it. The old city is full of Riads – private houses with gardens, also called paradises by locals, and thick  grey walls are separating them from street passers.

Medina’s underground world

Every neighborhood inside the Medina share two main facilities, essential for people living inside the walls. The oven – to have fresh bread and tajines, cooked in the right way. and Hammam a necessary ritual and a treat for your body. What many passes by without noticing are the people, who make it possible, in their little caves:

Medina’s forbidden mosques

Mosques in Morocco are only accessible to the Muslims. Therefore, we were left outside, on our toe tips, trying to get a glimpse at their beauty and the inner life from the doorstep.

Medina is full of life

Before the sunset go down go to to one of the medina’s gates, then sit down, order the sweet the a la menthe, relax, and watch the people pass by. The streets will get busier, the real market for the locals will open, watch and learn the tricks of getting the price down. As the sun is going down watch the contours of the city, the walls, the palm tress. Relax and don’t rush, you are in Morocco now…