Nothing pisses me off more than when I ask someone who has traveled extensively what place they loved or hated most and they avoid answering with a direct answer because they are scared to insult one place or another. You know they answer with, “Oh I can’t answer that, they’re all special in their own way.” or say something along the lines that they are like their children and blah blah blah. I say it’s bullshit… we all have our favorites and places maybe we don’t hate but dislike. I answer those questions in a heartbeat. Cairo is the city I love most (even though Istanbul is the most beautiful) and well Fez is the city I hate most.
It’s probably obvious why Cairo is my favorite, but it’s more to it than just him…lol. As for Fez and why I hate it so much. Oh… I wrote an entire blog post as to why I hated it. You can read it here: “I can’t love them all… Yes I hated Fez!” I just will never forget how everything went wrong from the get go and was just a tough city to explore on my own or even with a group of people. I also remember clearly how it was also part of the reason I almost went home during my first trip around the world.
In the span of a week I went from visiting one of the places I love most to one I hate the most. I was only visiting Morocco to revisit Chefchaouen, but the cheapest flight back to Spain was from Fez. Fez also happened to be only a 4 hour bus ride from Chefchaouen so I thought why not revisit the city I hate most. It had been 4 years and since then I think I have grown and see things different. I also thought people deserve second chances so shouldn’t cities too?
—One of the many alleys in Fez.—
I arrived in Fez after an amazing 5 days exploring the blue town of Chefchaoeun. My return there was perfect in every way and was hoping the same would happen in Fez. After a short 4 hour bus ride I arrived and was terrified to hail a cab, because last time the cab dropped me off on the other side of the city. I walked out of the bus terminal and no one approached me… I thought that was strange and then I walked up to a cab and asked how much to where I was going and he quoted double the price. I just walked away and asked another and again double the price. Finally the third one quoted just a bit over what it should be and he understood where I was going and I felt comfortable going with him. He did in fact drop me off right outside the gate near the hostel. I walked into the Medina (old city) and people were already yelling at me “Funky Fez”…. “You going to Funky Fez”, I ignored them and just kept walking. I made it to the same hostel I stayed at 4 years ago and laughed because it was exactly the same.
—A leather painting tannery in Fez.—
I checked in and because it was already late didn’t walk far from the hostel, so left all my exploring for the next day. I woke up bright and early and spent the entire morning exploring the medina. It wasn’t as bad as I remembered, but it was still tough. As I walked around I knew I couldn’t look lost because people would want to help and in the end expect a tip. Yes that happened then and happened again this time around. I was a bit lost trying to find the tannery so finally allowed a guy to take me and after I visited he was waiting outside for me to tip him. I gave him a small tip and he got upset and said it wasn’t enough. I just walked away.
I quickly learned the best way to enjoy exploring Fez was by ignoring everyone. So I did just that and it was much easier. I got lost in the medina and actually enjoyed it. I made my way to the other side of the city to get a shot of the iconic blue gate. I walked around many alleys and in and out of many stores.
—The Blue Gate.—
I had made plans to meet up with people from the hostel for lunch at Cafe Clock to have the famous camel burger. It was a nice break from the chaos in the city and nice to chat with people. We enjoyed the meal. I loved the camel burger. I didn’t have it last time I was in Fez and made sure I did this time around. From there they had things to do so I kept exploring. After hours of exploring I went back and took a nap in the hostel. Later that afternoon we decided to watch the sunset from a hill on the other side of the medina. It was worth the walk and the hike up because the views were stunning. It made me appreciate the place much more.
—A sheep photobombing my view of Fez.—
We then decided to walk back and have dinner together. I mentioned a nice place I had dinner the night before with cheap prices and good food. We arrived and were given the menu. I noticed the prices were not what they were the night before. I honestly couldn’t believe it, we were given the tourist menu! I told the waiter that no this isn’t right and he looked at me literally asking me what I wanted him to do about it. I told him I would like the menu with the regular prices. After a small debate he finally took all our menus and brought out the local menus. The prices were in fact way cheaper. Everyone thanked me, but we all felt cheated and as more tourist arrived wonder what menu they had received and felt sorry for them. I just laughed and thought, “oh Fez’.
That’s how my experience in Fez ended because the next day I took off to the airport. “Oh Fez”, really sums it up. As I write this I am just giggling because now that I gave it a second chance I don’t hate it as much, but it’s still my least favorite place. It’s just one of those places where you can’t really win and you just have to let things be to enjoy it. Kinda like how I finally learned to love India when I hated it. Some places are like that and are hard to embrace, but that’s the world we live in… we can’t love every place we visit. That’s the beauty of travel even though we are all the same in a way every place is different in it’s own unique way.