As I mentioned in my post about the Riad Idrissy, the city of Fez first entered my travel radar following a Conde Nast Traveler article about "living like royalty" in Morocco. While I was far from naive enough to believe that all of Fez would be cushy and luxurious, I wasn't entirely sure what to expect. As it turns out, visiting this city was one of the most intense, stimulating, and memorable travel experience of my life.
Fes el Bali Medina, the maze-like walled Arabic city center, is not only a UNESCO world heritage site, but also the largest car-free urban area in the world. The scene in the medina was an assault on all five senses: teeming with people, filled with gut-checking smells, and completely enclosed from the open air. Intense, but incredible. I have never felt like more of an outsider, but have also never learned so much from a new place.
Aside from the time in our beautiful riad, there were plenty of other opportunities to escape the pandemonium. Touring the peaceful Al-Attarine Madrasa, an Islamic school built in 1323, was an amazing educational interlude. Sipping wine on the rooftop of Riad Fes with its panoramic views, taking a quiet moment in the courtyard of Riad Laaroussa, slipping into tourist-friendly Cafe Clock for a snack and a beer provided respite from the busy streets.
Fez was crazy and beautiful and scary and wonderful and beyond anything I could have ever imagined. Though cliché, it's a place I'll truly never forget.
EAT // 7-hour lamb at The Ruined Garden, Maison Moi Anon (Thai)
DRINK // Riad Fes, Cafe Clock
STAY // Riad Idrissy
SEE // Al-Attarine Madrasa
DO // Shop the Fes el Bali Medina
Views from the rooftop of Riad Fes with a bottle of Domain de Sahari Gris (our wine of choice for the trip)
The courtyard of Riad Laaroussa
Shops in the supremely chaotic medina
Maison Moi Anon Thai Restaurant
Only a little ashamed to be taking selfies in an ancient holy school...