Hiking Through the Medina of Fez

The ancient Medina of Fez is history and culture packed with ornate alleys and cracked yet gorgeous stone walkways. Stairs fill the city making it quite the workout to make your way through Fez. It’s definitely no walk in the park. Walking through the Medina be sure to have a determined look to limit the amount of hassling, but still – expect to be bothered to buy something around every twist and turn.

There are shops for everything and every side-street or alley has it’s own designated category. Rugs, lamps, textiles, jewelry, and so on are all jammed into the crowded streets of the Medina. The problem is with all this over-crowdedness the streets are near impossible to walk through during the busy times of the day, but I highly recommend walking all throughout the Medina. It’s a great way to really see the city for free.

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Locals will give you those looks. You know, the looks that remind you that ultimately you are a tourist. Cause really you are. Unless you’re living somewhere for a couple months or more, you’re still a tourist because everything is still new. For me I hate owning up to the fact that I’m a tourist so I do everything I can to avoid looking like one. Unfortunately I can’t fool the true locals – it might be my skin color or it might be because I take pictures of lamp stores…

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The tannery is a must see in the Medina – it’s a free tour, which is just what I like but warning: they will tempt you to purchase some truly gorgeous and high quality leather. It’s a fairly informative and quick tour, but just be prepared for the smell and very steep staircases to get up to the top. This tannery tans much of the leather in the world so it’s really interesting to see where it comes from! But boy the smell… They do give you mint leaves to help alleviate the smell, but pull the leaves away from your nose for one second and pheeeww… beware!

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Touring the Medina for cheap is easy because of these storekeepers who just really want to show you their stuff. I went into a perfume shop and smelled everything, like everything for free and it was a blast! They don’t force you purchase anything and it’s a great way to see a lot. This is especially useful on short trips, like the one I had to Fez. It allows you to see the Medina fast.

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Planning Way Way Ahead

“The man who goes alone can start today; but he who travels with another must wait till that other is ready.” – Henry David Thoreau

Traveling alone is exhilarating, scary, and necessary. Never knowing what to expect is part of the fun and part of the fear. I’m a talker, once you get me going you wish you could get me to stop. I have a tendency to go on unmapped rants that run around in circles until someone changes the topic or just walks away. Luckily that makes traveling by myself easy because I’m not scared of making friends along the way. Even with that being say I still prefer traveling with friends, but I still try to take time to explore places by myself.

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Ifrane, Morocco

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Think about the Poconos in the US – that’s what Ifrane is. It’s a small town in the middle of Morocco surrounded by the popular ski slopes, which are mostly a tourist destination for Moroccans. When I stayed in Ifrane, however, it was in between summer and winter – picture absolutely unexpectedly freezing nights and oddly hot days. All at the same being surrounded by a ghost town. A ghost town except for Al Akhawayn University. I was only in Ifrane for four days while presenting at a conference on the Muslim World, but at all times of the day I was fairly freezing.

I thought – oh I’m going to Africa, it’s going to be so warm! I also made the mistake of checking the weather but only looking at the highs. Warning: always check the full weather report, don’t just be optimist like me and only bring a light-weight fleece.

This beautiful, remote, and extremely developed town smack right in the middle of Morocco is only a few hours from all the major cities (and Spain). It’s a great stop for a trip to Morocco and some of the sites will make you forget you’re technically in Africa.