Thursday, 6 March 2014

5th March

I went down to breakfast before either Tamsin or Hanna. I informed the waiter that there were three of us in total. He delivered a plate of the local bread, what looked like a doughnut and some pancake like items, plus some orange spread, butter and olive oil. This, I thought, was for all of us. So we were surprised that when the other two arrived that 2 times that amount was delivered to the table! 

View from the kasbah
We then went to look round the Kasbah and it was worth the visit purely for the views over the town from the tower.  We then left for Volubilis and Meknes, via a restaurant in a town called Moulay Idriss which was highly recommended by Michelle, a friend of our Australian friend, Alice.  The journey from Meknes into the Middle Atlas mountain range was stunning and surprising. Surprising, because it is all green and highly cultivated especially the lower slopes. The driving was made easier as I was following a van that was going about the speed I wanted and obviously knew the road well as he dodged all the potholes and slowed for the speed traps that seemed to be at every town. Sadly he stopped for fuel about 50kms short of our initial destination, Moulay Idriss.

Volubilis with Moulay Idriss in the background
At Moulay Idriss we discovered that the restaurant was shut as it was out of season (big disappointment!), so we made do with a cup of mint tea in the main square which was very pleasant.  I needed to make a visit and was taken by the cafe owner to the local loo, a squat job. Fortunately I didn’t need that option. I discovered as I left that I had, in fact, been taken to the ladies loos which caused a bit of consternation until a stall holder told the lady that it was alright (least that’s what I think he said – more like stupid foreigner!). Then, as Hanna and Tamsin wanted to use the loo and refused to use the local squat facilities we went to a hotel just outside Volubilis and had another cup of tea!    We timed our visit to Volubilis perfectly – it’s a huge old Roman town so we toured that and duly admired various mosaics and columns etc. just before about 8 tour buses arrived.  We also had a great sighting of a kestrel, which excited Hanna enormously!

Now we’re in Meknes and staying in Palais Didi, which is an old royal palace.  Our room is enormous (12 metres long, 6 metres high and about 4 metres wide) and very impressive – massive bed, a sitting area and a huge and very warm bathroom with a gigantic bath you could almost swim in.  We’re going to try some of our chunks of amber in the bath later and shall come out smelling splendidly.

Fit for a king....?
We wandered into the Medina and met a helpful chap who is also a local horse carriage owner. As Tamsin wanted to visit a spice shop, (just to see), we went with him to his “sisters” shop. There Tamsin picked up 100g of star anise for about 80p, plus some more bits and pieces at “very good price”. (The next day we picked up 500g for 35p!!)

As we came back out from the Medina we saw the same chap and asked him about a restaurant that we liked the look of, he informed us that it was being renovated, but he could recommend a similar one in the Medina. This was owned by his “uncle”. It was surprisingly good, although the fare on offer does seem to becoming rather the same; starter of soup or salad, 3 types of tagine, couscous, kebab or pastille for main and a sweet pastry with sweet mint tea. We ate the sounds of typical local music which Tamsin turned down to an acceptable level when the waiter disappeared into the kitchens. The CD then started to “slip” which made it even worse to listen to. This got worse as the CD went into a theatrical death throw, to the point that it would be quiet for minutes at a time before bursting into life again – this started to become quite funny.

We returned to the hotel where we had been advised when checking in that there was some Dr’s event on from 6pm till 9pm. As the time was 8:45pm we soon worked out that it was unlikely to finish until much later. Still, they didn’t make much noise and we think they finished around 11pm.

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