WHERE TO STAY IN: FEZ
Fez was our first stop on the Moroccan trail. Having decided to leave Marrakech and its touristy streets for later, we were excited for the age old local aesthetic of Fez and eager for this city to make a first impression. And what an impression it was. Though a little tricky to find, once out of the heat and narrow confines of the adjoining streets, the characteristic high ceilings, sumptuous open courtyards, elegant tile mosaics and seamless pool of Riad Fès provide sweet relief.
One of the oldest imperial cities in Morocco, Fez is home to a car free maze-like medina of (some say) around 10 000 alleys where getting lost is half the fun. Absent of cars, the street are all the more full of life. From the tradesmen to the carriages drawn by donkeys and young children playing in the narrow streets, we willingly lost our way to better find hidden gems. Far removed from the endless string of commercial haunts pushing all the same trinkets (though there are a few here and there), much of the medina caters to locals.
This authenticity reinforces cultural awareness, which even for the seasoned traveller, can be put to the test. Not used to the dry heat as so strongly felt in Fez, I decided to wear shorts on day three of the trip. Though on my traditional summer trips to the south of France these shorts would go unnoticed, as neither particularly short nor tight; the stares they prompted in Fez (and related discomfort felt on my part) are a reminder that the privilege of travel must rest in cultural respect -including, at times, questioning the appropriateness of one's hemline.
As a first time visitor, this authenticity can either be alienating or engaging, curious or fascinating; either way, you will not be left indifferent.
Whether mint tea on the rooftop or juice cocktail by the pool, each space is a call to relaxation and contemplation.