Yesterday, we woke up early to catch the morning train to Fez, the ancient city and former capital of what is now known as Morocco. Fez is located at around 1,300 feet above sea-level in the Atlas Mountain Range. The train took all day, so we packed snacks because we knew lunch would be hard to find. When we got to the train station in Marrakech, there were a few people waiting for the train to Fez, but later the crowd all arrived and mayhem followed! Everybody pushed and pushed through only one door out of six that was open, only to find that the train had not even arrived, which meant another long wait. Once the train had arrived, everybody ran to the end of the train. It was weird because once we were in, the pistons didn’t pump for another 30 minutes. The train ride was seven hours and took us through the desert and through other cities such as Casablanca, Rabat, and Meknes.
We shared a carriage with a family who had a six-year-old boy and his four-year-old little sister:
We arrived in Fez in the early evening and went right to our hotel, then went to eat at a local restaurant because we were starving. After supper we watched TV at our hotel and found channels that broadcast shows from soccer highlights to camel auctions. We fell asleep happily that night.
Here is a view from the terrace of our riad, and a picture of the fish in the fountain:
We walked to see The University of al-Qarawiyyin – the first known university in the world, which started in 860 AD. Even though we couldn’t go inside, we got a view from a nearby terrace. Fun Fact: one of its famous graduates is Pope Sylvester II, who was Pope in 999 AD. He was the first French Pope. This fun fact gives you a clue to how old Fez is #1,000yearsbro. Fez was founded in 789 AD.
Speaking of universities, it is back to school time for most kids now. We saw parents and children shopping for school supplies in the souk, so I also stopped and bought a blue pen.
The ‘back to school’ experience is a little different for me than previous years since I’m not going to a regular school this year, but I know there’s a lot to learn about the world.
We walked to the leather tanneries, where they use dyes and pigeon poop to color and treat all different kinds of leather and the most important thing to know is that they use the same method as they did over 1,000 years ago. It was too stinky and I really did feel like I was going to lose my breakfast, so we got mint leaves to hold in front of our noses. Once we started to head out my mom bought some traditional Fez shoes.
Heading back to the hotel, we saw two public bread ovens and many people carrying dough around. They make their bread loaves at home and then the kids carry them on a tray to the big oven where everybody’s bread gets baked, just like it used to be in Triora.
A design from the gate at Place Rcif: