How come we always start the blog with food! Breakfast this morning consisted of a sweet potato spread. Our initial thoughts were - ugh! But being the foodie that I am I tried it. Surprisingly it was rather pleasant although it tasted like it had had honey added to it and as a result quite sweet.
|The "Main" Royal Gate.|
We were met at the Riad at 09:30 by our guide Naqib. His English was good as it turned out that he had spent time in the UK in 1972 in Brighton which is where I went to Polytechnic ten years later. The tour started with a car ride to the main gate of the Royal Palace. This is the only one that can be photographed (as its not used by the King). This is very impressive with bronze doors and ornate carving around the outside. We then walked back to the car and passed the Jewish quarter where there is jewellry making and gold and silver work. This was on our way to a fort that overlooked the south of the city. From there we took in panoramic views.
Tamsin caught a fantastic shot of a Lesser Kestrel as it left its nest in the wall of the fort. We were then driven back into the city and dropped off just outside the medina walls. Walking past the stalls and shops in the medina we passed fish shops selling shark, red snapper, sardines and something that Naqib called rabbit fish! We also passed a butchers selling camel, which we advised was like a tough beef.
|A lesser Kestrel|
|A beautiful roof of a madersa|
During our wander around the medina we visited El Attarine Medersa which is a medieval Muslim school which has a highly decorated entrance, we looked in on the Karaouiyine Mosque which is a Muslim university originating in 859 (non Muslims are not allowed to enter), the Bou Inania Madersa, this is the only madersa in Morocco to have both a minbar (pulpit) and a minaret this is also one of the few Islamic religious buildings to be open to non-Muslims. We also visited the Fondouk el-Nejjarine which is a former caravanserai that provided food, rest and shelter for visiting traders and craftsmen. While going from here to visit the tanneries I managed to lose Naqib, Tamsin and Hanna and ended up viewing the wrong tannery before backtracking and finding them. In the mean time they had reported me lost to the police. Somehow I don’t think and all points bulletin had been put out! The tannery was very interesting, these have been going almost unchanged for thousands of years.
|A Medieval scene|
|Yes, they do really get into the "zee pigeon sheet"!|
We were informed that the start of the process the skins are stripped of all hair/fur and then placed in vats that contain “zee pigeon sheet”, this happens for about 4 days, they are then rinsed and dried before they are then dyed using natural dyes such as indigo, poppy flowers, mascara or saffron. Needless to say the smell is quite strong and could easily become unpleasant. After this we walked to the Clock House cafe which is where said goodbye to Naqib. We found a table for three on top of the Clock House roof (best views and atmosphere) and ordered a light vegetarian lunch. This place had been suggested by Michelle.
This evening we had booked a table at the Dar Roumana, which is also a Riad. This had also been recommended by Michelle. We had a guide turn up at our hotel and took us there in time for us to have pre prandial gin and tonics. The meal was superb and didn’t involve a single tagine, no doubt we will pay for that over the next few days as we head south towards the Sahara,