Meknes, capital of the Berbers and forgotten fourth Imperial city of Morocco. Often overshadowed by its near-by big brother Fes, Meknes has more to offer than people seem to realize. It's small town charm but medium city vibe will leave you wanting more. We arrived by train around noon, to bright blue clear skies and crisp cool inland air. We met man on the train, Abdullah, who spoke good English and called his friend to meet us at the station to show us around.
Our new friend Ali, met us at the station and recommended a riad for us. Skeptical of the price, we decided to check it out anyway. A riad is a Moroccan version of an American B&B, except they are drop dead gorgeous and serve my beloved mint tea. We struck a deal and decided to stay. It was gorgeous. Open patios inside on the second floor gave a perfect view of the downstairs living room, filled with colorful couches, mosaics, rugs and plants After we settled in and our guide came to show us around the endless maze of the old medieval city, the medina.
Exploring was just what I imagined and had been waiting for. I was very surprised at the amour of hand work goes on here. Everything is hand made, everything, and with mighty fine craftsmanship. The market smell of fresh vegetables, livestock and salted fish was thick in the air at times, with all sorts of spiced aromas dancing around us. The chaotic hustle and bustle of the carpenters transporting their works on their shoulders, or dragging behind on a motor bike, narrowly hitting anyone off to the side of the road, excited us all. There was so much going on, and we were all eager to find out what the medina had to offer us. The narrow streets left many options for some fantastic photos. Over 4000 streets to get lost in, making the Meknes Medina the second largest in Morocco, we hit the ground running. We would have instantly gotten lost if it were not for our guide.
Of course, our tour guide helps out fellow locals, and we got sucked in to a timeshare presentation about Moroccan carpets, at least that's what it felt like. These sales men are relentless, pulling out 50+ rugs that I could not afford, nor had any interest in purchasing, all in effort to make you buy something you never really wanted to. Yet, they keep on with a smile on their face and appreciate you stopping by, even if it was just to talk story. The Berbers are very friendly people and better sales men. If no purchase was made, they were stoked to have you there to talk, and get publicity for their shop.
We were getting hangry (anger caused by being hungry) by then, but our tour guide had other plans. They took us to a spice shop for the same routine. No purchases there, all we wanted was food. We continued on.
We finally sat for dinner and had a wonderful spread. The tajine of chicken and figs was one of the tastiest meals i have ever eaten. Yes, yes. Yes, and yes, tajine fig and chicken all day. Add mint tea. Done. Probably paid for more than it should, but you guessed it, the tour guides brought there.
Meknes is a beautiful place and is worth visiting. Spend a couple of days there, as I wish we could have. This should be a good warm up for Fes tomorrow.