May 31, 2016

places I love (fes).

rather than fly and miss a huge chunk of this beautiful country, we opted for an 8 hour train journey north. we shared our tiny private train car with a variety of moroccans, coming and going, each headed somewhere. as the view turned from desert to rolling green hills, we hopped off the train at it's final destination. 


a UNESCO world heritage site + the nation's cultural capital, I had no idea what to expect. fes is a far cry from the dusty chaos of marrakech. still just as aggressive and intense, but in a way that is older and wiser. it's a place that's long been lived in. 

everything about fes felt like it was steeped in history. the colors, the sounds, the smells (i'm looking at you, tannery!), were all so different from marrakech. it made every turn exciting. 

the deeper we wandered into the labyrinth of the medina, the better. where marrakech was a city buzzing with tourists, fes has managed to stay off much of the world's radar. 

it was a whirlwind. one moment we were whispering in a crumbling, sprawling old riad, alone save for our guide and the roosters who kept watch for intruders. 

the next moment we were drinking mint tea on the floor of a palatial rug shop. with the flick of a wrist, rugs were rolled and unrolled and displayed like we were directing a textile orchestra. 

we were in another world. completely immersed. 

for all of it's old world charm, the government is making (needed), but life-altering, updates to the city. now is the time to visit, while you'll still get a great mix of old and new. ancient and modern. both beautiful, but in different ways. 

should fes be on your wanderlist, keep these in mind. 

stay at mazar fes. khalid is a gracious host, a wealth of information + it's apparent from the moment you get to his riad just how much thought (and DETAIL) he put into creating this place. 

hire a guide. we were completely comfortable finding our way around marrakech. then we were told that the medina of fes has 9,000 streets on the map, and probably closer to 12,000 streets in real life. with limited time (and at the recommendation of our riad), we opted to spend the day with Jamal. for what equalled about $40, he led us around the medina, bought us treats to try, answered all my incessant questions, and got us in to some pretty magical places. 

visit the mellah (jewish neighborhood). it's home to the royal palace and has a completely different look + feel than the rest of fes. 

eat at cafe clock (if you're brave - I wasn't - they have camel on the menu!). it's a little tricky to find (keep an eye out for signs), but the food is great, the staff is friendly and they host all kinds of nightly activities, making it perfect for solo travelers. 

lastly, the timing didn't work out, but we were dying to have dinner at restaurant numero 7. they serve modern moroccan and change it up regularly by inviting talented chefs from all over the world to do the cooking. they are only open a few nights a week, so call ahead! 

i'm certain no place quite like fes exists anywhere else in this world. if you're up for adventure, make sure you visit. 

sad to leave, we had visions of what came next...the blue city + we couldn't wait. 


May 27, 2016

places I love (marrakech).

after two red-eyes in a row, a quick run around nyc, 6 hours in a spanish airport + one last little we were. 


squinting into the african (AFRICAN!) sun as we hopped off the plane, we (hi sarah!) knew we were in for something pretty great. 

a new continent, two new countries. 

stop one was marrakech. 

our welcome to this beautiful part of the world was every bit as intense, dusty, colorful + disarming as I thought it would be. 

marrakech, you were beautiful and loud and disorienting in the best way. you reminded me of home + in the same breath were unlike any place I've ever known. 

you held so many secrets behind your doors. every quiet alley was home to a dozen of the most beautiful places we'd never see. oh to have the time to knock on a few doors and explore. 

at every turn you were a contradiction. both overwhelming and peaceful, open and full of mysteries, confusing and so clear. 

we were off to the very best start. 

if you go (and if it wasn't abundantly, I can't recommend these places enough: 

stay at riad dar sara.

make a reservation + have a dinner at sunset on the rooftop at nomad. one of the best meals of the trip. 

visit the maison de la photographie, medersa ben youssef + without question spend a morning getting lost in jardin de majorelle, the beautiful treasure gifted to marrakech by yves saint laurent. 

spend most of your time trying to get lost in the medina. it's pure magic. when you need relief, pick up some modern moroccan goodies at 33 rue Majorelle.

slip through the door of riad el fenn and treat yourself to one of the most beautiful spaces I've ever been. ask to go to the rooftop for the ever elusive cocktail and snacks. even better, splurge and stay there. 

we were two days in, and already I was in love. as we boarded our train bright and early - I was certain there was no way anything could be better than this. good news? I was completely wrong... 

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