Tag Archive for: Medina

Tangier, Chefchaouen and Volubilis

Blessed are the curious for they shall have adventures.” Anonymous


Where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Mediterranean Sea, sits the bustling port of Tangier. The cross-cultural influences in food and architecture from North Africa, Spain, Portugal and France converse in this fascinating city. During World War Two, spies, businessmen, writers, and artists arrived in Tangier seeking opportunities and adding even more to its diversity.

We had an excellent tour guide on this portion of our trip. He took us to the Kasbah where he explained what a Kasbah is (walled city) and how it has changed over the years. An example of such change is the homes within the walled city.  People have started buying homes and apartments and have turned them into BnB’s and vacation rentals. Families who used to live inside its walls have left for life and opportunities outside the Kasbah.

Our local guide

I love doors and there were so many that were very unique.

We also toured the Medina where there many goods for sale from handcrafted Moroccan artisan ware to typical Moroccan food. One place we stopped was the Café Baba where the Rolling Stones were customers when they were holed up in Tangier while awaiting a verdict from their drug charges in the UK.

photo credit Mat McKeever


I really liked Chefchaouen. It is a quiet and relaxed town. You can wander aimlessly and come across many fascinating sights. There were cats everywhere. In stores, restaurants, and in the streets. However, the first thing that you see is BLUE on every building. All different shades of blue. There are a few theories as to why: one popular opinion is that it keeps mosquitos away; another is that the walls are painted blue to attract tourists. Perhaps, it is a combination of the two?

Our Hotel

Photo credit Mat McKeever

Photo credit Mat McKeever

Photo credit Mat McKeever

Photo credit Mat McKeever



Our group was given a choice to climb up to the Spanish Mosque which is a mile long hike up the hill. I decided that I was not going to attempt it. Instead, I chose to sit and watch locals and tourists alike wander along the river. I loved watching all the people, one of my favourite things to do.

There are plenty of excellent restaurants from which to choose. You could easily spend a pleasant couple of days in this relaxing place.

You will also see cats everywhere. Just like this little cutie.

Photo credit Mat McKeever


Volubilis is a well best-preserved Roman ruin. The walled city was once home to 20,000 people. The buildings were destroyed when an earthquake hit Lisbon in the 18th century which flattened Lisbon. It is incredible that anything survived, but you can still see detailed mosaics with themes of Greek myths on the floors of some of the destroyed buildings.



It was an incredibly hot day when we toured Volubilis. I would have loved to have taken in more, but quickly realized that my priority more was finding relief from the hot sun than sightseeing. I believe the temperature was in the 40’s Celsius range.

It was time to travel to our next destination

Medina at Fes Morocco

We travel because distance and difference are the secret tonic of creativity. When we get home, home is still the same. But something inside our minds has changed, and that changes everything.” Jonah Lehrer

Fes, The Medina

Fes is the second largest city in Morocco and after settling in our hotel, Hotel Mounia, we set out to explore the Medina. Medina is the Moroccan word for market and what a market it is. Our main tour guide was not allowed to take us on this tour, so a local guide was hired. It is advisable to get a local guide to show you at least some of the highlights and more importantly, how to get out of the Medina. There are over 9,000 winding streets within 365 hectares. It would take several days to see everything. Getting lost in the medina is almost expected.


Inside of the medina is the largest mosque in Fes. It holds 3,000 people.



Men washing their feet before going in for prayers

One of the highlights was seeing the tannery. The tannery dates back to the 11th century and is the oldest in Africa. You enter into a store from which you can go up to a balcony. From the balcony, you can see the different “pots” where men are either treating or dying the leathers. You will be handed a sprig of mint to sniff before you get to the balcony. It is because some vats are filled with a mixture of cow urine and quicklime to remove any remaining bits of hair before soaking the leather in a softening wash of acidic pigeon excrement. After the treatments, the leather is put into pots containing dyes made from spices such as saffron for yellow, pomegranate for red and turmeric for brown.  Inside the store, there is a vast array of leather goods. All production is done by hand. I bought a hassock. I managed to get them down to half of what they were originally asking. I was very proud of my bartering skills. Pretty good deal I thought until I was able to get another one in the market for half of the bartered price for the first one.


Another of the many stops we made was to a weaving shop that makes the most exquisite agave silk scarves, blankets etc. The silk comes from the agave plant. They extract the filaments from the agave, twisting them into very strong thread. Then they dye them and weave them into their beautiful creations.

In the few hours, we had to explore the Medina; it was overwhelming. There was a variety of goods from leather goods, spices, copper, woven articles and many more things.

stuffed figs

If you go to Fes, allow at least a day to explore the Medina if not more.