It has been a great past couple of days. We first headed to Meknes, the smallest of the three imperial cities. We of course arrived at the train station 5 minutes after a train had left so we purchased first class, assigned seat tickets ($18 each) for in an hour and went to find some breakfast.
We had one talkative fellow, Omran, from Libya who was an Arabic teacher in Morocco getting his PhD in our cabin. Our conversation was very stilted since Katy and my Arabic is limited to hi, thanks, let’s go, and maybe, but Omran’s English grasp was a little larger. He did give us a piece of advice that we will head, don’t travel to Libya in the near future.
We had a bear of a time finding a taxi after we left the train at 2pm and ended up walking to our riad (1-2 miles). I know I live in Colorado and am use to the sun having a huge effect on the weather, but in morocco it might even be greater. It feels like the sun adds 10-20 degrees and on the walk to the riad we were sweating but when we left the riad in the tight shady medina I needed long sleeves. This riad was of traditional design with intricate tile work on the walls and detailed ceiling plaster? work ($28).
We set out to find the big mosque and visit the sites. We initially couldn’t find the big mosque and later realized that the medina was built all around it so tightly that it really didn’t have any discernible exterior and was just sporadic entrances.
A medina is a walled city, most of the houses are made of plaster/mud/brick with no space between them. They are closed to cars, but not mopeds and motorbikes. There are so many roads and alleyways that maps (including Google) don’t show a fraction of them. Thankfully Meknes’ medina is said to be relatively easy to get around and less touts and hustle/hassle then Fes and Marrakesh.
We hadn’t eaten lunch at this point and decided to look for a good food option which we didn’t find. I asked Katy with her French to buy us some salted peanuts for us to munch on. Katy was able to manage buying some peanuts and came away with $0.10 worth… Numbers may not be Katy’s strong suit and 100g sounded like way to much so she settled for 50g, afraid she would end up with a suitcase full.
We spent the rest of the afternoon seeing a couple sites and then went for dinner on a terrace overlooking the main plaza. There were performers ranging from bands to men dancing to tell stories and circles of people formed around them, but there were only men in the circles. Some women congregated near the edge of the plaza, but not enough to account for every man in the plaza.
That night we played a game of settlers (i destroyed Katy like normal) and went to bed. The next morning after a breakfast of fried breadish thingy we headed to the grand taxi station to Moulay Idress. A grand taxi is a 1973 Mercedes sedan painted white or blue that leave when they are full and fit six passengers, two in the driver seat and four in the backseat. We decided to splurge and bought ALL the seats in one of the taxis to take us to Moulay Idress (30 minutesish). There is a man who heads the taxis and had a ledger of some sort and told us it would be $6, $3 cheaper then the guidebook said (I always expect more than the guidebook) and we jumped on that.
Moulay Idress is a relatively minor touristed city. It’s main claim to fame is holding the mausoleum of one of the people that congealed Morocco and there are pretty well preserved roman ruins a couple miles away which we road bikes to after some minor mechanical repairs (including having one having maybe 10lbs of pressure in the back tire).
The bikes did not really fit us and we took the dirt road, but it was nice to get out. After a couple hours we peddled back 2.5 miles up hill and had a custard filled chocolate pastry washed down by a Fanta to celebrate (I celebrated the bikes not breaking, not sure what Katy celebrated)!!
That night we were the only people in our guest house and we had arranged to eat dinner there. We decided to get a bottle of Moroccan wine with the meal which actually wasn’t the worse wine I have had!!!!!! Even though Morocco is a predominantly Muslim country alcohol is not illegal, albeit most places don’t sell it. Some hotels, a few restaurants, some bars (mainly associated by men and prostitutes), major grocery stores, and a few shops sell it and it tends to be more expensive.
We had a good dinner and then settled into the room which had a nice sized heater and an electric blanket which Katy turned up to melt your skin off temperature. She wasn’t cold…