06/16/13
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Quad Bar

On June 16, 2013, Ivan and I packed everything up and moved rooms in Riad Villa de Arsa.  We had the free breakfast on the terrace.

Lil Dave went to roam around the medina.  He was going to meet up with Reggie and take a cooking class on monkey Moroccan cuisine.

Ivan felt a lot better.  He got lucky that his sickness only lasted a day.  Ivan and I walked around the Jemaa el-Fna square.  We went to Taj’in Darna Café and Restaurant for lunch.  We had a boring lunch of a tuna sandwich and a fruit salad.

Pretty Moroccan glass cups

Ivan and I checked out the shops since we had time to spare.

Perfect coned spices

Ivan and I walked to a parking lot since we were waiting to get picked up for a trip.  We got picked up by an SUV and picked up two girls nearby.  The driver drove us to a street and got out.  He was waiting for two more people.  A French couple went into the backseat and we were off.

It was time to go on The Rock Desert & Palmgrove of Marrakech half day trip run by Dunes & Desert Exploration.  We tried on our helmets and were given goggles.

I sat on the quad bike with Ivan driving.  He said I could drive my own if I wanted.  I tried driving the quad bike, but I think I was too slow.  It hurt to keep my finger pressed on the acceleration button.

The group started following our guide.  We saw a lot of rock desert and wild palm groves.

At first, the guide was going slow.  Ivan said How come we’re going so slow?  He thought it was like we were out for a Sunday afternoon ride.  Lil Dave wanted to drive, but Ivan told him not to be such a silly monkey.

The guide actually listened and we started going faster.  The scenery wasn’t amazing, but it was fun being on the quad bikes.  It was really hot out though.

The other group caught up with our group which only confirmed that we were going too slow.

Ivan on the mountain

The two groups went on top of a mountain for a nice view of the desert.

Me with my helmet hair

I’m glad we stopped a few times for a water break.

The group started driving more in the desert.

Berber village

Everybody stopped at a Berber village.  It was time for tasty mint tea and honey crepes.

Time for mint tea & crepes in the shade

I’m glad we got a chance to relax for awhile in the cool shade.

It was time to head back.  A guy was using a spray gun to knock dust off people.

Ivan getting sprayed

Ivan and I both got it done.  It was a fun day on the half day tour riding in the desert on quad bikes.

That night, we walked to the Jemaa el-Fna square for dinner.  Ivan read that #1 and #14 stalls were best restaurant stalls.  Ivan thought we should check out #1 tonight.

Chez Aicha is the #1 stall which has been visited by Jamie Oliver.

Eating dinner among the locals

Ivan and I shared fried eggplant, vegetable tajine, sardines, sole and fried calamari.  The food was good.

We walked around the market and came across a row of tea vendors selling cardamon tea and a spiced cake.  The cake tasted good with the tea.

Having cardamon tea

The cardamon tea was really spicy and delicious.

Ivan found a nice bar online that he thought we should visit.  We walked to Kosy Bar.  Ivan and I shared a bottle of rosé‎ and talked about traveling and life amongst all the other tourists.

06/12/13
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Medina Market Tour

Breakfast was at 9 am on June 12, 2013.  It was American style breakfast today.  We got lots of bread and fruit.  Also, we enjoyed tea and scrambled eggs.

At 10 am, we were picked up by Najib.  He was going to be our guide for the Medina Market Tour.

It was a great tour through the winding narrow Medina streets of Fez.  We passed by lots of mosques and visited two tanneries (where they make leather and rugs).

Leather bags and cushions

We stopped at many stores where the owners were showing off their goods like cushions, leather goods, scarves and tablecloths.

Woman hand embroidering a tablecloth

I liked seeing the beautiful amariyas which the bride sits on and is carried to the wedding by four men.

White Amariya

Ivan was in search of fez from Fez.. but he didn’t know he’d find the first one in giant form!

A giant fez in Fez

When you go to see a tannerie, you’re given mint to cover the bad smell.  It really does help… I do love the smell of mint.

View from a tannery in Fez

We also got a great view of the city from the tanneries.  It’s cool to see all the stone vessels where the workers dye the leather in different dyes like saffron, henna and mint.  After the dying, the hides are placed on the roofs of the Medina to dry.

Stone vessels in the tannery

It was nice stopping at a school to see the children. A few of the kids were two years old.

Kids in their classroom in Fez

I took pictures of them and showed them their picture which they loved.

Najib showed us fez hats which were good quality costing 120 dirhams.  He said there were tourist ones for 20 dirhams which was definitely more reasonable.  Ivan was happy that he finally found a fez in Fez!

Our guide Najib with Ivan wearing his new fez

We stopped at Restaurant Nejjarine.  A lot of starters came out first which were different vegetable dishes.  Ivan got a vegetable and almond tangine while I got a chicken and lemon tagine.  We got fruit for dessert.  The food was good.  The Moroccans give you so much food when you visit a restaurant.  It’s really quite filling especially with the bread and rice.

We saw many cats during our tour.  Najib said it’s because there are mice in the medina.  There are lots of street cats who are very malnourished which is really sad.

Mosque in Fez

We walked around some more with our guide.  He asked if we wanted to take a taxi outside of the Medina.  We were too tired from walking around for five hours.

The tour was great since it’s very confusing navigating the streets of the Fez medina (old city).  We didn’t really understand our guide that much, but he certainly knew his way around and took us to some cool places.

We saw the newborn kitties again who were fast asleep in a box.

Four sleeping kitties in a box

Back at the hotel, we used the internet and I worked on the blog.  Ivan went out and got a chickpea sandwich which was quite tasty.

Lil Dave was back from hanging out with Abu and his friend Bart’s cousin named Muhammad.

We wanted to have dinner in the market, but we weren’t sure what everything was.  Not everybody spoke English, so it was hard to tell if the food had meat or not.

Ivan and I ended up at Restaurant Andalib which was the same restaurant as last night.

Terrace at Restaurant Andalib

Ivan and I shared harissa soup, seafood pastilla (which is a pie made out of filo dough) and vegetable cous cous.  It was a tasty meal again.

Seafood pastilla

We were the only ones in the restaurant again.

We walked around the shops since I didn’t have many clothes that were dark – my clothes were bright and made me stand out a bit.  All the women’s shirts were dressy.. I just wanted a t-shirt.  I bought a black England shirt which was actually for men, but it still looked good one me.

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