We left Meknes in a heavy fog/mist which eventually cleared as we drove onwards towards Azrou. We drove through lots and lots of grape and apple farms that thrive on the higher altitude that we had driven up on to. The drive this morning was a quite short 1 hour to our hotel (Hotel Dar Maroc Adams), commonly referred to as The Stork Hotel due to the number of stork nests on the roof. This was a hotel that would have been very grand but has slowly declined over the years with the changing tourist market and I expect also decline in the upper more mobile class holidaying domestically.
Once we had found our rooms, and grabbed our day bags, it was back in the bus for a nice short drive of about 25 mins through the town of Azrou and to climb a little further in elevation to the cedar forests/forestry starting at Cedre Gouraud Forest and then to walk through various parts of the forest.
Today, we left Fez and headed off to spend some time at Volubilis before having lunch at Moulay Idriss and then on to Meknes for a city tour and accommodation for the night.
First though, let’s talk about Hotel Batha. Yes, it was dated but oh the bones, oh the sheer level of craftsmanship that had gone into building and decorating that hotel. It apparently had a renovation circa 2009 but I feel like that was likely only refreshing the common areas with regards to cleaning plaster work and probably new paint.
Today was a a Fez-tastica day in Fez. We started off with a with a quick stop at the Royal Palace to admire the gates and then we headed up to Borj Sud for an overview of the city. From there we headed to a tile and pottery studio before heading into the medina for a walk through where we stopped off at Cherratine Madrasa, a textiles “workshop” before stopping for lunch during Friday prayers and then it was off to Chouara Tannery before we went back to the hotel. One of the great things about today was all the gates that we either drove through or walked through. I quite liked the Gates of Fez.
Today was an exploring and driving day. We started off with a walking tour of Chefchaouen which saw us walk from our hotel at the top of the hill and meander through the streets down through to the roundabout at the where the old catholic church was where we met Ibby & our bus to start the drive to Fez which would be about 4hrs in total.
My 34th birthday, the first of if I recall correctly, 4 birthdays on the trip, or maybe it was 3. I received a lovely card from the group and enjoyed Happy Birthday being sung to me when I walked into breakfast (in English) and then also again on the bus (in English and then in Arabic as well). Today much to the delight of the group at the start of the day, today we had decent little walked planned, of about 10-15km. Like many things in life, what is planned and what happens do not always align and accepting this fact makes living life a lot easier.
Ahh, Day 4, what an interesting and adventure filled day this was.
We started the morning off in Casablanca and visited the Hassan II Mosque before jumping in the bus to head off to Rabat for a few hours and then on to Chefchaoen which would be our base for the next two nights.
Nothing like starting off the trip with a chunk of driving. All up only about 350km today but one thing the mainland Australians needed to quickly get used to was the fact that we were not driving in our wide brown land. Yes, Morocco may also be a wide brown land, but this is a wide brown land with different patterns of road use and road users. We would get there when we got there and that is one thing that it took some fellow travellers a while to get used to this concept. Aunty Margaret as the resident Tasmanian on the trip is quite used to the notion that yes a distance may be 300km and yes the speed limit may be 100km/hr but the odds of you actually doing that for the majority of the trip are not the highest 😀
Back to the start of the day though, we were only in Casablanca for two nights, but I quickly adored watching the changing light, colours, sounds and traffic on the beach at Ain Diab.