Discover Morocco – Day 5 – Fez
Ali had our day planned out for us by hiring our tour guide, Layla. In Fez, drivers are not allowed to escort their passengers around the city without a tour guide license. Ali shared with us that he was fined by the police once when a passenger begged him to show her around. That was a pricey ticket that I would never want to bestow on him. Fez is known for a thousand alleys so it’s recommended to hire a guide to avoid getting lost. Originally, Ali asked a friend but unfortunately, he was unavailable. His friend recommended Layla to us. The tour was 45 dhr for a tour from 9am to 4pm. By 2pm we were getting antsy. The tour was perhaps the worst I’ve experienced. I will go into details in a bit.
Table of Contents
1. Guided Tour
Our tour guide told us to have a big breakfast since it would be a long day. We underestimated how much food we needed in our system before we trekked around the city. I had breakfast at the riad but it was mediocre. It came with assorted bread and yogurt. This set the tone for the rest of the day. We were given some rules for our tour. 1. Do not take pictures of specific stores or people without permission. We can take pictures of places as a whole. 2. Do not make eye contact with men and smile. That is considered flirting and that you’re easy… Ali said the 2nd rule is not true but Layla may experience that differently since she’s a woman.
Anyways, it showered sporadically in the mornings but it was not terrible. Ali drove us around during the first half of our tour. This part was fine since we were comfortable and enjoyed the sites. In the second half, we trailed through the maze. When we booked Layla, we were told that she would take us to shops and help us bargain. We did a lot of walking and did not get to shop at any of the local markets. The tour guides in Fez are required to take us to government commissary stores which included an education portion, sales portion, and purchase/negotiation. We went to a mosaic shop, leather, carpet, silk, and Moroccan oil shop. We were annoyed by it since we felt like we were obligated to buy at every single store. The stores that we were taken to were top-end shops and not cheap at all. The cheapest thing at the mosaic was a coaster for $25. Leather was about $200, the carpet was about $3000, silk was about $20 for a scarf, and oils were double the price of any store. It would be cheaper to just purchase handcrafted goods in the market. To make things worse, we had no food, water, bathroom, and rest stops during that 8 hrs. When our driver picked us up, he was disappointed to discover our experience. He was shocked to learn that our tour guide did not give us a lunch break or provided us with an itinerary of our day. The only information she told us was to eat a large breakfast. Our driver was upset and tried to make things better for us. He took us to dinner and scheduled a spa date for us. He is truly the best.
Time Spent: 8 hrs
2. Royal Medina Spa Hammam
We have been talking about how much we wanted to go to a hammam spa. Ali thought that Layla would take us to one while we were on tour but that did not happen. As soon as we shared our disappointment, Ali called our Riad and asked if there was a hammam nearby. There was. Ali, our hotel, and the hammam coordinated a wonderful experience for us.
After getting to our riad, we got ready for our hammam. At 18:30, we walked downstairs to meet the hammam employee who would escort us to the spa. The spa was a short 10-minute walk and thank goodness we have an escort. We would have gotten lost. I highly recommend asking your riad for a hammam escort to get you there and back in one piece.
The spa was wonderful. When we walked in, we were escorted to some benches and handed menus of spa packages. We got the bath and hour relaxation massage. It was 250 riad for the bath and 450 for an hr relaxation massage. We were given the option to do the spa first or the bath first. We opted for the bath first per recommendation. We would probably do the opposite next time because it is extremely cold to get a massage. I am not sure if that was normal. Hammam is an experience and everyone should do it at least once.
First, you are escorted to a small locker room to remove all of your clothes. In a basket, they provide disposable undies, a robe, and slippers. Once we are ready, we were escorted to the bath according to our gender. Once you’re in the bath, you remove the robe and slippers. In the bath, a woman washes you with hot water. We sat down on a small seat next to one another. The hot water was coming from a sink/bath that looked like a massive water fountain. The woman quickly pours a bucket over your head repeatedly. After you are nice and soaked, the worker will ask you to lay flat on the marble counter. While you are on the counter, the worker will scrub your dead skin off and slather a scrub. The scrub is left on for about 15 mins and then you get off the counter to wash off at the bath. The worker dumps buckets of water over your head repeatedly until the scrub is all washed off. Once that is done, your hair is washed with shampoo and tied in a braid. The experience may have lasted about 30 to 40-ish minutes. After the experience is over, we were escorted to a room before our massage. My friend and I shared a room. The room was extremely cold, especially after the hot bath. I would probably skip the massage here. The pressure was low, they played techno music, and the workers were talking the entire time. This portion was not relaxing at all.
After the “relaxation”, we were escorted back to the lockers to change and back to the front lobby. In the front lobby, we were welcomed with tea and cookies. It was a great end to our hammam. The worker escorted us back to our riad. We ended the night with a glass of wine that we had bought for the desert.
Time Spent: 1 hr 40 mins
Where to Eat:
Dinner: Capitale Du Poulet
Ali shared that this was his go-to restaurant when he was in Fez. It was a quick and affordable chicken restaurant. I ordered a 1/4 chicken plate for 25 mad. There were two different types of chicken. Ali seriously took me to the kitchen and asked me which marinade I wanted. PL ordered the sauteed veggie panini for 25 mad. They did not have any vegetarian options on the menu but Ali told them to throw something delicious for her. We also ordered the cheese rolls for 30 mad and 2 fruit juice for 15 mad each. I would say that the food was delicious and affordable. We were starving at this point and we devoured everything.
Where to Stay:
→ 31 Rue Makhfia Quartier Bourajoue, Fès 30200, Morocco
Dar Victoria is a massive hotel for only $63 for two nights. The hotel has a living room area with a bed in the living room area, a private room with a smaller bed, a kitchen, and a private bathroom. The dar was located right outside of the famous medina. We cannot wait to explore the next day.