On the way to Fez and an evening fit for a princess!

May 1st ~ Explore Volubilis & Meknes, Overland to Fez

Ruins at Volubilis

Ruins at Volubilis

After breakfast, we drive inland toward Fez. We know ahead of time that it is going to be a long day on the road. One of the many benefits of traveling with a small group, is that there are plenty of extra seats on the bus which allows us to spread out and be comfortable.

Our morning bathroom stop gave me a “first time” experience. Several tour busses had arrived at the large petrol station (aka coffee shop/convenience store) at the same time. As seems to be typical, the line for the lady’s room was winding down the hallway. I was nearing the entrance when a large, stern looking grandma type grabbed me by the arm and quite authoritatively wrestled me inside the mens room, motioning for several of the other ladies in line to follow her. 

I tried to protest, explaining I was glad to wait, but she wasn’t taking no for an answer…

There were three stalls along one wall as well as a bank of urinals on my right. I again tried to back out, averting my eyes, but NO, she insisted that I take the last stall. Well, much to everyone’s surprise, it was occupied. I’m sure the poor man standing inside that stall (no door) was not very amused.

Anyway, the other two stalls had doors, and the very puzzled faces on the men as they exited and I quickly entered and rapidly locked the door behind me was almost worth the embarrassment. And of course, once inside, the door was rattled every 10 seconds or less. I rapidly emptied my bladder, tried to suppress my giggles, washed my hands and fled.

Oh, by the way, my husband was just one of the many men from our bus who pretended they did not know me when they came face to face with me when I had been escorted in.

But as they say, “when in Rome”…

Another surprise I had this morning was how green the rolling hills were. This is very fertile and lush farm land where we pass by vineyards, olive groves, and fields where prickly pear, agave, sunflowers, lentils and other beans are grown.

Lush, fertile land in all directions

Lush, fertile land in all directions

Stopping to take a quick photo of a village built on the side of a hill, Tim and I crossed the road where we were approached by three local children who eagerly greeted us as their cow quietly looked on.

Town on the side of the hill in the background

Town on the side of the hill in the background

Shy but curious faces greeted us, while the cow went about chewing his cud

Shy but curious faces greeted us, while the cow went about chewing her cud

Along the way, we stopped to explore the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Volubilis, the once-bustling city and African administrative center of the Roman Empire. The site also has vestiges of the Berber civilization that took the city from Rome in AD 270.

Volubilis is named after this local flower.

They call this flower Volubilis, we call it a Morning glory

They call this flower Volubilis, we call it a Morning glory

A private local guide escorts us through the ruins, spouting dates, facts and figures along the way. The late morning sun is getting rather hot, but thankfully a strong breeze helps keep us from melting.

Partially restored ruins at Volubilis

Partially restored ruins at Volubilis

You can click on any picture below for a larger size version.

And one more of the wild flowers in all their splendor.

It is definitely Spring here

It is definitely Spring here

We continue to Meknes and view the Bab Mansour gate, beautifully patterned with zellij mosaics.

Gates

Bab Mansour Gate

But it was the marketplace just across the street that captured our attention. How I love wandering through. They are always colorful, fragrant (sometimes even in a good way), loud and lively.

inside the market place always seems so "alive"

inside the market place always seems so “alive”

Arriving in Fez around 5:00, we unload the bus for a brief walk through the narrow streets to get to our Riad for our dinner and overnight. First of all, I must admit my ignorance. I had no idea what a Riad was.

“The Riad is the Moroccan traditional house, normally with two or more storeys around an Andalusian-style courtyard that contained a fountain. Riads were the stately city homes of the wealthiest citizens such as merchants and courtiers.” ~ Wikipedia

Wow, what a treat!

Inside the courtyard of our Riad

Inside the courtyard of our Riad

We were blown away by the amazing courtyard which was where we enjoyed a welcomed glass of mint tea as well as our dinner later in the evening. The tile work was exquisite. I never did hear an exact date, but I believe this was mostly original from the 18th century.

Detailing over a small alcove

Detailing over a small alcove

Beautifully carved doors lead into a side room and blue and white tile work

Beautifully carved doors lead into a side room and blue and white tile work

Keys were placed on a table where every couple was allowed to choose one. It really was the “luck of the draw” as every room in a private home is unique in size, location and decor. The keys were only labeled with names, no numbers that might give away its location.

Each of us then came forward with their chosen key, where we were then escorted with our luggage to discover what room we had selected. It was rather like a fun room lottery system.

Well, Tim is usually my lucky charm and managed to choose the key to the best room in the home! It was on the main floor (so no stairs to climb), had two firm beds, a huge divan sofa, and delightful furnishings. But of course it was the stunning architectural detailing that made it so unforgettable. Oh, and did I mention it had a huge bathroom complete with an enormous bathtub.

Inside our bedroom suite

Inside our bedroom suite

Inside our bedroom, with windows that looked out onto the courtyard

Inside our bedroom, with windows that looked out onto the courtyard

This shows some of the furnishings

This shows some of the furnishings

Overnight: Riad Salam Fes, Fez – La Perle De La Medina

GRATITUDE MOMENT: Tonight I feel like a princess, staying in such an elaborate room. The mosaic workmanship is stunning and takes my breath away. What a privilege to step back in time and experience how the wealthy lived in this Riad. It is now 4:50 the following morning as I complete this write-up and I can hear the local call to prayer somewhere in the distance. Oh how I love all that we are learning and experiencing. What a lucky woman I am!

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About Tim and Joanne Joseph

Hi and welcome! We are Tim and Joanne Joseph and we have just embarked on our "next chapter". At a stage in life where traveling the world, taking pictures, and sharing our adventures with friends and family will be our dream come true.
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14 Responses to On the way to Fez and an evening fit for a princess!

  1. What magnificent architecture! The bathroom incident happened to me once – a long line of women waiting and waiting – so another brave woman and I went into the men’s. Luckily, no man came in during out “visit”

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  2. Wow! I am in awe of the beauty of the Riad. I didn’t know what that was either, so thank you for including a definition. Very magical!

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  3. Wow, just wow. And we like to think we are an “advanced” culture. What a joke.

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  4. janet oates says:

    Awesome day!! Wine in Morocco what a surprise, infact today photos were all a surprise to me. Keep surprising me Hugs Jan

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Really beautiful place. The colors and textures and patterns are amazing.

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  6. Debby Douglas-Brown says:

    Just returned from a superb trip to South Africa…animals, food, sights, people, and flowers were all terrific. We were inspired by your recent trip to the “dark continent” that isn’t so dark!
    All was great and for us solo travelers to go on a tour was real luxury…eat, sleep and show up for the next day’s adventure. Rather nice!!!
    Your trip to VN was fun to follow as we have been there +/- 15 times over as many years. You saw things we haven’t found yet and we will look for new adventures when we return in January.
    Keep on enjoying. We are following your Moroccan trip with much interest.
    Hope we can see you aometime soon and hear even more fun tales.
    Thank you for taking so much time to prepare and send your blog. It is GREAT!! We learn so much.
    Cheers, Debby and Bill Brown

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    • Hello Debby & Bill! How lovely to hear from you. It made my morning reading that we could give you an idea or two for something new to see in Vietnam, specially after your many trips there. Appreciate your kind compliment and so glad we inspired your trip to South Africa. It is pretty impossible to top seeing those animals isn’t it!?! So far Morocco is turning into another wonderful adventure. We are heading toward the desert and will be spending one night in a tent camp. Can’t wait! Tim says hello…

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  7. Karen says:

    This was fabulous, especially all your beautiful photos. Have you taken hundreds (or thousands) of them by now? Everything is so colorful, isn’t it? And certainly these are things we never see in the U.S. Enjoy! Love, Karen

    Sent from Karen’s iPad

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  8. ardysez says:

    Wow, that Riad would keep me awake all night just wanting to soak it all up. Beautiful. Love your story about using the Men’s toilet. When we were in Croatia we had a similar experience with a very long queue, but after the men had finished with their toilet, one of them told us to go in and use it, so it wasn’t nearly as dramatic as your experience 🙂 Loving your photos, thank you so much for sharing it all.

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