Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Casa to Rabat to Meknes to Fes (Morocco Post 2 of 5)

The first load of laundry is in the washer, and I need to make a grocery store and post office run shortly, but I thought I'd try and make another post before doing so. This and the preceeding post will be posted in a short time frame, so if you've not read the post before this, have a look at that post too.

The first couple of days of the tour were full of sightseeing! We tracked along the imperial cities in the north, heading out on the train from Casablanca to Rabat. The train system is fairly well developed in Morocco, and most of the trains were on time.

Morocco shows influences from just about everywhere in Europe - the French, Spanish and Portuguese and Romans were all in Morocco, and there is definitley a strong Islamic influence in place as well. Rabat definitley shows the Portuguese influence well, with whitewashed walls and blue doors.

We only had part of the afternoon in Rabat before boarding another train and heading on to Meknes to stay the night. The next morning, we went out sightseeing. Meknes is home to a huge grainery which used to store grain for horses. Apparently 12,000 horses were fed from the grain stored in the vaults here, and it's no wonder considering the size of the place. I caught a taxi up to the graineries with the girl I was rooming with, and I was glad that there was someone else there, as we were the only two people in the place! If this place looks familiar, it was used as part of the set for the "Last Temptation of Christ".

Lunch in Meknes was camel burger! Our tour guide helped us buy camel meat from a butcher in the market, and had it ground up with spices. She then took us to a very small restaurant nearby where they shaped the meat into small balls and grilled them for us. The meat was put into a pita-like pocket for consmption later. Lunch, of course, came with a glass of mint tea.

After lunch, we boarded a mini-bus to take the group to Volubulous, a Roman ruin between Meknes and Fes. We had a private tour of the place, which was largely deserted when we were there. The joys of travelling in off season!

The bus then took us on to Fes. Fes is largely regarded as the cultural capital of Morocco, and they are proud of the cusine and local attractions there. Our group split into smaller groups in order to take advantage of a few local guides. Our guide took us to view the city of Fes, and to the mosaic factory and tannery located inside the city. If the tannery looks familiar, it's been shown on "The Amazing Race" before.

Our dinner that night was a Moroccan feast set in a riad. Riads are traditional accomodation which features rooms set around a central courtyard. This riad had been beautifully done up, and we all had an excellent meal there.

Typical Moroccan cuisine features tagine, cooked in a dish of the same name. It usually is meat accompanied by some vegitables and cooked in a small amount of liquid to make a stew-like consistency. Typical combinations include preserved lemons and chicken, meatballs and tomatoes, and beef and prunes. Its traditionally eaten using bread as a scoop, but fortunatley most restaurants also provide forks. Other dishes include brochettes, which are meat skewers, and couscous, which is a the name of a small grain, similar to polenta, as well as the name of a dish. The dish version of couscous has the grain plus vegitables and meat.


Christine said...

Wow, great pictures so far, Karin!!! It sounds like you saw and did a lot while you were there.

Are we going to see any pics with you in them?

Anonymous said...

The ruins, the painted door look like what you'd find in India a lot. I so want to go to Morocco!

Fab pictures. Yes, we want to see some with you!

Sara said...

Gorgeous pics so far! Can't wait to hear more about your trip.

Anonymous said...

OooooOOOOoooohhhhh ... I'm jealous. Dangitall. :o)