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Volibulis,Old Town Fes and sore feet

Fez Travel Blog

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Entering Volibulis

Just as well yesterday was a 'rest' day, today would more than make up for it. Up early, becoming a common theme, and went to check out. Having been unable to locate a tour agency for Volibulis we asked the receptionist the best way to get there.

Most books tell you to get to Moulay Idriss, and get a taxi from there, but the girl said she could get us a taxi, and that they would wait at the site and bring us back. the obvious question was how much ? It was 350 Dirham, or less than £30, which for four of us didn't need a second thought. we got to leave our rucksacks in the office of the hotel and were off to Volibulis by 9am.

It's just over 30km from Meknes, and we tried on the way speaking to the taxi driver.

Columns
Like everywhere else you really need to be able to speak French, and most of the talking/translation was done by our daughter who is at least still studying it at school (long time since I was at school) . Passing Moulay Idriss the driver was telling it how much of a holy site it was in Morocco, you have to be muslim to stay there, even overnight,apparently. We turned off the main road, after yet another police checkpoint, and saw Volibulis for the first time and it looked impressive.

Cost 10 Dirham each to get in, and there were folk offering to give guided tours, but we had a wee book and like to do stuff ourselves. however at points we used the guided tours as directions and at points caught up with them and listened in. Us Scots can be quite tight fisted at times :-)

An impressive site of Roman ruins, and it has loads of little plaques telling you what everything is.

Mosaic
History says it was a lot better preserved, right up until the Moulay Ismail trashed it for the marble to build his palaces and then the Lisbon earthquake of 1755 whaich destroyed part of it. Still probably the best Roman site outside of Italy though. really hot and the temperature must have been getting close to 40C by 11am when we left. Hard to go into the detail of the site, will let the pictures do the talking.

Taxi was sitting waiting at the cafe just outside, and after getting drinks there, we set off back to Meknes. the taxi waited at the hotel while we got our bags and then took us up to the station, and all this for under £30 :-) . Train to Fes was due in just 15 minutes, and this meant we were now back ahead of the planned schedule, and were in Fes for 12-30.

Main Street
Had booked another Ibis and it was just down the path coming out of the station. The station at Fes is still the old one, and they are in the middle of building a new one there.

Having checked in to the hotel, and by now knowing my passport number and visa entry number off by heart :-), we acquired a map and set off for the old town on foot. Looked pretty straight forward, but it went on and on for miles, literally :-O. Top tip then get a taxi, we were knackered before we even got there and it is not as easy as it would seem even to find your way in from the main road.

Once we did find our way in, we were approached by a guide, who had some sort of government accreditation, who offered to show us about. Being in and having got a bit of a feel for the place it seemed like a good idea.

Tiger Mosaic
The Souk in Fes is a lot more contrived than the others. The guide was still obviously looking on getting commission from places he took us, and also in the old town rather than taxis there are unofficial minivans  and he got us one of these to take us up to a viewpoint at the fort overlooking the old town.

He was very knowledgable and informative. we went to the old water clock, which they are trying to restore, and then into a Riad right in the middle of the old town. We cut down streets and across lanes and realised we had made the right choice in getting a guide. We wouldn't have seen anything like as much without him, there is something like 29km of streets and lanes in the old town. Went into a shop that did metalworks and saw how they did it by hand, and were told that this was all the good stuff, and these guys did it from imaginstion rather than using manufactured stamps for the metal.

a guide throwing water over mosaic

We then got in a small minivan, that the guide had got on his mobile, and headed up to the fort above the old town where we could look down on the old town. Guide pointed out some of the landmarks, like the old university and the Jewish quarter near the royal palce before we headed back down and went to a ceramic works. This was part government/charity funded to teach a trade to those without any educational qualifications. The first thing you notices was the smoke coming from the kilns, where they used the dried out skins and the stones from the olives,after they had been pressed. Saw the guys cutting the mosaic tiles and it looked so precise. Obviously there was a shop, and some of the stuff was amazing, particularly for me a table that was a replica of one of the mosaics we had seen ar Volibulis earlier on.

Down to the arch

The minivan dropped us off back in a square and we went down a lane where there was a a bit where water was taken out of the river and used for dying the cloth. Just down from here was another maetal workshop,where they did use the metal stamps. Nothing in here was for sale, it was just interesting, particularly as it was in the cells of the old jail.

Next we headed for the tannery and up two floors to look down on the ceramic vats where they tanned the leather. Guy from the place explained how it was all done. They do a different colour each week, and the guys that tread the colours into the leather have to cover themselves in oil to stop being dyed themselves. Still it is seen as a very good job by those that work there. All sorts of different leather goods in here, made from only animals we eat was the way the guy put it to us, as opposed to the stuff that ws meant to be rubbish and was made from donkey hide.

12 Labours Of Hercules Mosaic

He tried really hard to sell us a pouffe,made out of camel skin and nice bits made out of goat, but we would never had room for it, even rolled up,in our rucksacks. He got the owner to give us a price and it was 1200 Dirham. Not likeley !!! We made for the door bu tthteguy was quite determined, playing up that 75 families worked in this tannery blah! blah!, but we were still foing for the door. Last offer was 600 Dirham but we still weren't interested.

Of all the things in Fes, our son wanted to buy a fes, so we went somewhere to get one. It was a clothes shop as well and they tried to flog us everything, but we only bought a fes :-) Daughter did try on a beautiful dress, that was stitched with silver. To frightened to even ask how much it was :-O .

roman Jacuzzi
It was dark now and the guide was all for going on, but our feet were aching and we decided to head. Guy got us another minivan to take us back, via the Royal Palace, to our hotel. Weren't in the mood for moving so had a tagine from the hotel restaurant.

Good thing was we were still ahead of the plan, and could head for Tanger first thing in the morning. 

Dr_Seuss says:
and it was a looooong!!!! walk Fouad :-D
Posted on: Aug 10, 2009
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Entering Volibulis
Entering Volibulis
Columns
Columns
Mosaic
Mosaic
Main Street
Main Street
Tiger Mosaic
Tiger Mosaic
a guide throwing water over mosaic
a guide throwing water over mosaic
Down to the arch
Down to the arch
12 Labours Of Hercules Mosaic
12 Labours Of Hercules Mosaic
roman Jacuzzi
roman Jacuzzi
Triuphal Arch
Triuphal Arch
Mosaic at the House Of The Acrobat
Mosaic at the House Of The Acrobat
Forum
Forum
Temple
Temple
Moulay Idriss
Moulay Idriss
Close Up Moulay Idriss
Close Up Moulay Idriss
Leaving Meknes
Leaving Meknes
Fes Station
Fes Station
Walls rounf Old Town Fes
Walls rounf Old Town Fes
Gare in Fes Medina
Gare in Fes Medina
Fes Souk
Fes Souk
Water Clock
Water Clock
Inside the Riad Lounna
Inside the Riad Lounna
View over Old Ton of Fes
View over Old Ton of Fes
Old University
Old University
Ceramic Works
Ceramic Works
pottery drying above the kiln
pottery drying above the kiln
Cutting mosaic pieces
Cutting mosaic pieces
Table from mosaic at Volibulis
Table from mosaic at Volibulis
Metal Works in the jail
Metal Works in the jail
Tannery
Tannery
Dye Vats
Dye Vats
Dress with silver thread
Dress with silver thread
Fez
photo by: tj1777