The World is a Book

Writing about: Family Travel, kids, places, food…

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Onward to Fes

 

We hired a car and driver to take us to Fes from Tangier because we wanted to stop for a few hours in the Blue town of Chefchaouen before continuing onward and the train/bus situation was too long. We had rather a rickety taxi but he was a nice guy and it was lovely to see the countryside. I was surprised at how much agriculture there is in Morocco with sweeping landscapes of wheat and more grains plus orchards of citrus and olives. The smell of the small olive factories was very over powering in the small towns.

 

Chefchaouen is just as the guidebook photos show – delightfully picturesque. We wandered around the small blue streets, played with numerous kittens, and of course took loads of pictures. There are a lot of tourists and many come in for the day as we did. It would be nice to stay there and experience it later in the evening. Food was sure a lot cheaper than Tangier.

Given our “historic” hotel in Tangier we booked a place outside of the Medina in Fez and I’m really glad we did. We were in the Ibis, which is right next door to the train station and has some small local type restaurants around it. What made staying there so nice were the pool and the grounds. It was a little oasis in a teeming city. They had gorgeous rose gardens and all kinds of flowering plants. There were also peacocks and chickens in the garden and a goat next door! Even though this it a chain, I can recommend a stay here. Plus it had a bar so we were able to have a few drinks at the pool (most places do not serve alcohol).

The next day we hired a guide who took us around the Medina. You need a guide as this place is enormous and we would not have known what to look for or what to see without him. There are quite a few ancient sites within the Medina such as the world’s oldest university, which was started by a woman. The Medina is a UNESCO world heritage site and deserves to be. It’s crazy in places with tiny paths where you have to flatten yourself against walls because horses and donkeys laden with goods are coming by. I feared for my toes at times! Men pushing handcarts and people carrying large cages of birds cram past you. But the neat thing was everyone seemed friendly and they smiled and apologized if they bumped into you. It was a really nice environment and enjoyable experience, which the Medina in Tangier had not proved to be.

 

There are 250,000 people who live fully in this Median and that doubles during the day with people coming in. Everything needed to survive is created and made here. There are carpenters, metal workers, bakers, sewers, barbers – no one needs to leave. There are also schools and I was able to step in and visit two tiny one-room kindergarten classes.

They were so welcoming and the teachers eager to point out all the things they were learning from the posters around the room. Little room for play and no toys but the littles were laughing and singing. It was a fun day but I sure was glad to be back in that pool garden with a cold beer at the end of it!

 

  

Charlotte enjoyed the pool the best.

And I was thrilled to visit the world’s oldest university founded by a woman. Now deep inside the Medina!

 

San Miguel de Allende and surrounds

I knew we would San Miguel (SMA) looked lovely but it really is amazing so far. The city is very pretty with loads of restaurants and neat shops. It’s quite touristy in the central area and many retirees from the US have moved here but the city seems big enough for all. Many of the old colonial houses in the central area have been renovated and look lovely. Slight gentrification but that has mixed blessings as it brings money to in to renovate and save historic buildings.

We are here for two months so I will hopefully post more about the city but here are a few things to start. The churches and squares here are lovely. They are full of life with vendors and families just hanging out together and enjoying the lovely climate. It is such a break from the summer heat of Florida to be in central Mexico where the daily average is in the 70s and nighttime is in the 50s. It rains quite a bit in the afternoon but that just makes it green and cools things off. The humidity is also much lower thank goodness.

We have been to some amazing restaurants so far with topnotch gourmet food and delicious market and street food. Widest range of options that we have seen in Mexico yet.

We also took a trip to Canada de la Virgen, which is an Otomi archaeological site from about 530AD. It was a beautiful and easy drive up where we parked at the visitors center and then were driven in a minibus for about 10 minutes to where we then hiked up to the site. It’s quite a long walk (1.5 miles round trip) and rocky terrain in places but the weather was lovely and cool (70s) and we were up in the hills. Cows wandered by us and there is a lovely gorge nearby that you can see into.

The tour was all in Spanish so three of us got very little out of the guide’s explanation but it was pretty walking and exploring and we read about the site before going which helped.

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