Buying a fez in Fez
Fez is home to the largest mosque in Africa. Right in the middle of the medina, the complex is so sprawling it absorbs the surrounding houses. The medina, or rather, the vast majority of it, is also the largest urban car-free area in the world.
Were we wondering where all the tourists were while in Casablanca, Rabat and Meknes, it is now obvious where all of them, seemingly, hang out. In Fez. Or it seemed obvious, as we later found out that, really, the tourists in Fez were just a minor spillover compared to the plethora of tourists in Marrakech.
The medina's streets truly are alive with the sound of tourists. There are so many of them, it's not too surprising that hassling invariably doesn't even happen. Though in some occasions it's necessary, like for when finding the best viewing spots for watching the tanners at work.
The Fez medina is what you think of when you visualize a typical Arab old town. A sprawling network of small cobbled streets spread out over a series of small hills where everything imaginable is being sold and bought. Off limit to motorized transport, the preferred way for moving heavy goods being by horse or donkey.
And we bought, what else, a fez.
The Marrakech medina, we found later, is even more the archetypical Arab medina, to the extent where, in Marrakech, it even feels clynical.
I also shopped around fez, and found, a leather case for my iPad. Unfortunately a tiny bit too small, the case is a bit too much of a snuggly fit, but the price was more than right.
Indeed, here's a tip: buy truckloads of them and sell them on eBay for too much money. Hand made leather iPad cases from Morocco. That's not only globalization at work, but also a sustainable green business benefiting families in developing countries directly.
In the evening, we indulged and feasted on sushi at the reasonable, but a tad too classy looking, Kai Tai restaurant. Formerly only serving Japanese, they have changed their name and our now also serving, can you guess, Thai food.
Reasonable value, and made by a Japanese sushi meister, but also at twice the price of a carpet we bought from a peddler while overlooking the city from the southern hills, next to the ancient Merenid tombs.
The man, what seemed to me, sincerely thanked us for buying a carpet off him, after he had, unprompted, lowered his price several times when I indicated I had no desire to buy. Not because I didn't like his carpets, they were in fact quite nice, but simply because I'm not in a position to own much, having to lug around everything I own in my 20kg checked in luggage.
Anyway, we bought the nice carpet, I'm glad we were able to help the man and if I hadn't seen quite a bit of the world by now, I would have felt guilty for spending so much on our dinner. Nevertheless, another pointer of how wide the world's poverty gap is.
And though most of the diners in Kai Tai were expat, several were local.
The other pleasant dining experience we had was at Cafe Clock. A lovely multi-terraced venue with reasonable enough prices, good food and occasional live music. And a sleepy cat who is willing to drink your milk shake if you can't finish the bulbous glasses they come in.