It was the end of a two week journey in Morocco, and by the time I entered into the gates of Fes, I was exhausted. Feeling tired, battling a bit of a stomach bug, and with only one day to explore Fes, my friend and I set out in the city.
Staying inside the historic walls of Fes el Bali, the labyrinth of streets wound their way to the riad we had booked. I didn't think I could retrace our steps. Down a covered alley, a sharp left, and swift knock to a large door, down another hall, it opened up to what may have been the most beautiful riad during our time in Morocco. Checking into Dar Seffarine was the best decision and effectively one of the cheapest stays providing all that we could have hoped for: a sanctuary amidst the chaos.
Dropping off bags, we were escorted to a courtyard with honey-colored walls, shaded trees, and a fresh pot of hot mint tea. Neither of us were at our prime, one with a head cold and the other with nausea, so a cup of something warm was an answer to prayer. An hour went by, and we slithered into the coolness of our room for what were timely showers after making the four hour journey from Chefchaouen.
After a refresh, we took out the city map, noted our hours of daylight left and retraced our steps to the square we had passed through. We were in search of the tanneries. Traversing the long road to the site, many men eagerly demanded that we come into their shops but unfortunately for them, we were on week two of Morocco and had become seasoned with the no and quick laugh to any unwanted comments. We stopped in one, hoping it would have the iconic view, which it did. As we emerged, we spotted another shop overlooking the tanneries from another angle, so we moved on after paying a few dirham as a thank you for letting us stop to take a photo.
If the first hadn't been hard enough to find, shop 64 seemed near impossible. With the gracious help of a young man, he guided us to the store front which led to endless stairs. After a few floors, the passing of the mint to help with the scent, we stepped out to the view over the tannery — just like the photos we had seen. The smell had taken it's toll on me and feeling sick, I pardoned myself and explored the many choices of poufs, shoes, and bags a few floors down. It was time to head to the next spot.
The continued search of our next stop seemed more enjoyable than the search for the tanneries. We took in the sights, noted the scents, and savored our time exploring. We stopped once for dates and another time for a local treat as we had skipped lunch amidst the chaos upon arrival.
As we reached our destination, stepping into Al Attarine Madrasa, we instantly had the place to ourselves. The incredible detail, the patterns, and the history made it one of those "wow" moments not to be forgotten. Within a few minutes, the next group of travelers and the echoes of voices ringed out once again in the stone courtyard, reminding us it was now time to head back.
The night quickly turned, and our evening at Dar Seffarine wrapped up with a warm meal overlooking the sprawling city. Our time in Fes would be over shortly with the arrival of morning. 24 hours in Fes came and went, with a whirlwind of exploring and diving into one of Morocco's most cultural destinations.