Category Archives: Morocco 2014

Our 16 day backpacking tour around Morocco.

Morocco: Sahara Desert

DSC09781 1
After Midelt we arrived at Merzouga in the late afternoon. We spent an hour freshening up and sitting all together with Mint tea in the hotel that our backpacks were to be stored in for the night and then preceded to pack smaller overnight bags with essentials & a sleeping bag. Not long after we were designated our camels whilst awaiting our guides to lead us through the stunning dunes and to our camp where we were to spend the night.
I have ridden camels before whilst living in Cyprus so I am used to the awkward holding on tight as the camel stands up or descends back to the floor but never ridden across desert dunes! It really gives your thighs and solar plexus a good work out because you kind of have to move with the camel. Going down hill of a huge dune was both exhilarating & a little scary because the sand is so fine and the camel with your weight is a reasonable amount it is bound to be a clumsy and slippy experience! No one fell off though, hurray! Going to the Sahara during this time of year (Early March) is a good time to go if you have sensitive skin and find hot climates difficult. Early March is a cooler climate, still warm but you can comfortably handle the heat, I’d still wear sun lotion though to protect your skin from UV rays because lets be practical here, you would be riding a camel in the Sahara Desert!

DSC09785 1

DSC09790 1

DSC09804

DSC09805

DSC09822 1

DSC00195

DSC00134
Jon has always wanted to see the Sahara, ever since he was a little boy and marveled at the vast, majestic and never ending sands on a David Attenburough documentary he assumed he would never visit such a far away place that seemed isolated from civilization yet full of wonderful animals & plants that thrived there. I am really glad he was able to visit this place for his 30th Birthday, it must have been a special moment and those memories will stay with him for the rest of his life. For me it was about spending time with the Bedouins. I love meeting Nomads, Gypsies, wandering sages, wise vagabonds and tribal communities as I relate to them in someway, maybe it’s the wild woman in my heart and the Romany blood that pumps ferociously through my veins that connects me to these people and their way of life? To be honest I was slightly annoyed I had to wear my jeans in the desert, I mean how can a sensuous Gypsy girl connect with the magic of the Sahara in my dungaree jeans? I wanted to wear my Indian skirts and play with my silk veils but that wasn’t practical, oh well, maybe next time?

DSC09859 1

DSC09852 1

DSC09862 1

DSC09879 1

DSC09963

DSC09955

DSC09940 1

DSC00123

DSC00121

DSC00120

DSC09928 1
Our guides stopped our camels at this huge dune, which we climbed so that we could see our camp from above as the sun was setting and the stars were brightening. That climb nearly killed me, my mouth was parched and every time I took a step, the sand gave way under my feet so it felt like it took forever to eventually get to the top. Getting down to the camp was hilarious watching our group descend by rolling, sitting, gliding, being pulled down or shuffling through the sand and was a wonderfully happy memory. When we all finally made it to the camp it wasn’t long before a refreshing mint tea was being served with a gigantic Tagine feast! I felt so honored & blessed I was experiencing all of this! After our meal the Bedouins took us to a campfire where we sat and listened to them sing with their drums, we were all blanketed by the stars and sand that stretched for miles and surrounded by laughter & creativity. I fell in love with that moment. This is what is to be a HUMAN BEING, this is what it feels like to really appreciate life! Who cares about material possessions and the superficial consumerist culture? I certainly don’t and never have, especially whilst having this incredible experience, means more to me than money and owning a flashy car.

DSC00342

DSC09966

DSC09994

DSC09987

DSC00024

DSC00013

DSC00008

DSC00031
We woke up early the next day as we had to be back at the hotel before the midday sun which is too hot to be walking around in, no one wants heat stroke or sun burn! Jon decided not to ride back on a camel, instead he opted to walk so that he could take some landscape photography of the Saharan Dunes and also take some snaps of us all on our camels. This gave me the opportunity to chat to other members of the group who I perhaps didn’t know very well. In front of me were Mike & Jeanie and Ken & Joann. Two retired couples from America who are so adventurous & witty I loved spending time with them all. We talked about family & careers. Jeanie asked me what my dreams were, I said “I have many, to travel more, meet a dolphin, maybe run my own workshops but I’ll probably utilize my skills to sort of be Jon’s creative assistant for his photography business.” Jeanie replied “I disagree Katie, you are a strong and interesting young woman, you’ll forge your own path, I can tell, believe me.” These were words I needed to hear, they arrived in my life right at the time when I was on the verge of making big decisions for when I go back to the UK. I am really thankful to Jeanie for being one of the individuals who gave me courage to be pro-active and strive for my dreams. In fact everyone in our group left a positive impression on me, all of them were proactive and spirited and all of them were encouraging and supportive, wanting the best for each other to be happy and lead an enriching life. It is not every day you stumble upon one person who is naturally positive and energetic, let alone 16 of them! This was a wonderful group of people and I am really fortunate to have met them all.

DSC09829 1

DSC09857 1

DSC00615

DSC00423

DSC00422

DSC00353

DSC00347
The Sahara is clearly a very magical place that is both feral and hauntingly peaceful. Midelt opened my heart but the desert cleared my mind and I felt a restlessness in my soul, like I knew the old me was disappearing and a new me was finally being set free and I was listening to a wild voice inside of me telling me “Go follow your dreams, go achieve your greatness, go and enjoy your life.” and I am doing just that.
I will go back there one day. In fact I am in discussion with my best friend to take her to Morocco for this retreat: Desert Dance Healing in a couple of years time and I can’t wait for that day.
Next Moroccan destination our group ventures to is Todra Gorge. Stay Tuned!

If you missed my other Moroccan Blog posts you can view them here:
Day one & two in Casablanca
Day three/Afternoon in Rabat
Day Four/Morning in Meknes
Day Four/Afternoon in Volubilis
Day Five: Fes
Day Six: Midelt

Morocco: Midelt

Intrepid Tours, the best of Morocco
Arriving in Midelt in early afternoon everyone was pretty tired yet happy. We were welcomed with some warm Moroccan mint tea by the family we were to stay with and slumped on their sofas in the living room of their Auberge.
Midelt is a town in central Morocco, in the high plains between the Middle Atlas and High Atlas mountain ranges. With an estimated population of 44,780, Midelt serves as the commercial centre of a large agricultural hinterland. It is also one of Morocco’s principal cities for the mining of several minerals.
The town within Midelt that we visited is called Berrem, this was quite a traditional village with many lovely, sand-coloured buildings. It was great to get a glimpse into the locals general lifestyle & actually spend quality time with real people of Berber ethnicity. It was the happiest & most emotional day on this adventure for me. I do remember this place being exceedingly cold at night though and with about 5 heavy blankets Jon & I still couldn’t get warm (I could see my breath!) so if you go here in early March pack thermals! Like most people who visit Morocco, it sounds warm and spicy and coming from a dreary, damp and cold country like the UK where we have little no summer months and lots of rain you forget other countries get cold & rainy too because you want so much to escape to somewhere with better climate and make friends with the sun again! However Morocco has seasons just like most countries in the world, their summers are ridiculously hot and they have some pretty chilly winters, especially in the mountains. You can see from pictures on this blog that the mountains in the background have snow on them.

Moroccan Auberge

snoozing in Morocco
After our mint tea we were told to freshen up before we were to go on a walk. The family dog joined us and the walk was relaxing with breath taking views of the mountains in the distance.

terrain of middle atlas

walking around Midelt

trekking to Berrem town in Midelt

midelt landscape

beautiful atlas mountains

Morocco travel and tourism

things to do in Morocco

beautiful Moroccan places

sand stone Moroccan houses

Midelt and Berrem

By this time of our tour I had stopped reading our trip notes and therefore was going with the flow and did not know what to expect from being in Midelt. I honestly thought our group was going to spend a lot of time walking around the beautiful rough landscape to get a feel for wild open spaces again after being crammed like sardines in Fes. I did not know we were on our way to a Berber town to actually interact with local families and their children. This was a very emotional experience for me as it is something I have always wanted to do (and continue doing for the rest of my life in other countries) and I did not want to leave. Caitlin, Jon, a few others and myself stayed outside to interact with the children and the rest of the group went to sit inside a home with a local for some mint tea and a chat. At some point soon I hope to send gifts to the children via their local school, mainly educational & art supplies and I would love to go back there someday, perhaps as a visitor again or maybe as a volunteer at their school in the summer months.

sand coloured buildings of Midelt

the children of Berrem

meeting the locals of Berrem

visiting local Berbers in Midelt

intrepid tours visiting Berber families in middle atlas

wonderful life changing experience meeting families in Midelt

local Berber children

Berber children of Berrem
After spending the afternoon with the children and their families we headed back to the Auberge for a hearty meal. We were supposed to have live music and entertainment as well but the traditional dancers didn’t turn up for whatever reason. We didn’t realise this until later but the staff decided to dress us up instead and we all danced the night away to amazing music played by Berber musicians. Everyone was blissfully happy and in a state of dancing euphoria and yet not one person drank any alcohol. To me, this is heaven as I don’t drink, I have never been drunk and dislike being around drunkards so you can imagine how happy I was to see everyone enjoying themselves without a drop of alcohol, this sort of happiness needs to encouraged in the UK as unfortunately the British tend to think you can’t be happy or have a good time or be yourself unless alcohol is involved. Moroccans are naturally very happy people and community based, some nights during this tour we were encouraged to dance, sing and play the drums around a warm fire to just celebrate life and this made my heart explode with so much love! One particular local at the Aurberge, a lovely older gentleman gently grabbed my hand to dance with me and with a cheerful smile said “You dance like Berber woman!” I was in shock and so happy, here is a local actually telling me I dance just like their women, I mean what a wonderful compliment for me as a Belly Dancer as I do try so hard to be authentic in my dance movements out of respect for traditional dances similar to Belly Dance and out of love for my own Romany ancestors, I do not want to be just another Western woman ‘trying’ to belly dance and not having a clue, I want to feel accepted by other cultures and integrate myself into their world through my dancing. It was a very special moment for me.

dancing at Auberge Morocco

Berber dancing and music

Berber costumes

Berber music

traditional Berber entertainment

dancing in Midelt

dance in Berrem

traditional Moroccan entertainment

Intrepid tours

traditional Berber clothing
Before the night ended some of the women in our group asked me to teach them some Belly Dance moves for a bit of fun. I was a little hesitant at first as I am actually quite shy when I am not dancing but I gave it a go and taught them hip drops and the shimmy. Soon after that Louise grabbed me and pulled me back into the middle of the floor and coaxed me into doing a solo performance with the musicians which was hard for me because although I love to dance and I do get hired to perform at venues in the UK, I did not want to be the person who takes up the entire floor during a holiday as I am not attention seeking but with a gentle nudge from Louise and encouragement from the rest of the group cheering me on that gave me confidence to dance my little heart out and I truly hope they enjoyed my little solo. I can not believe I did a solo performance in Morocco!

Teaching Belly Dance in Morocco

Belly Dancing in Midelt, Berrem, Morocco

Traditional Berber costumes
This entire day was magical to me, I spent time with local children in Berrem and enjoyed an evening of dancing in traditional Berber attire to traditional Berber music, life can not get much sweeter than this. I was very sad the morning after when I had to leave, there will always be a place in my heart for Midelt and the people I met and if an opportunity arose for me to go back, I’d be there in a heartbeat.

After our day & overnight stay in Midelt our group jumped back into the mini van in the early hours of the morning and headed to the Sahara Desert for Camel Trekking in the dunes and an overnight stay at a Bedouin camp under the stars! This was also an unforgettable experience for both Jon & I So stayed tuned for next weeks post!

Missed other Moroccan Blog Posts? visit them here:
Day one & two in Casablanca
Day three/Afternoon in Rabat
Day Four/Morning in Meknes
Day Four/Afternoon in Volubilis
Day Five: Fes

Morocco: Fes

Moroccan exterior architecture
After our day in Meknes & Volubilis we travelled in the evening to our next destination, Fes. Arriving at around 7pm, it was dark and we were all hungry! Our guide took us through some windy back streets of narrow walls with an array of tangled electrical wires poking through the surface like over grown ivy and cobbled footpaths of leaky drain pipes and many stray cats. Where were we being taken? If we didn’t know we were in the safe hands of our guide, this would have been a reasonably unnerving walk akin to being lost in precarious alley ways of London.
Finally we arrived at a door with other ‘tourists’ merrily stepping out into the street, I was intrigued. One by one we ventured inside and it felt like we had been transported to a magical world, I really did feel like Alice falling down the rabbit hole and waking up in Wonderland. We were surrounded from ceiling to floor of hand made and hand carved mosaic walls and furnishings as well as lovely locals. This magnificent place hidden away like a secret box belonged to a family who open it up to travellers to experience authentic Moroccan hospitality, cuisine and décor. They were so gracious and welcoming and We dined and lounged like Royalty on their delicious food before saying our goodbyes and driven to our hotel for a good nights sleep in preparation for the wild unknown maze of Fes.

a feast in Fez

Moroccan hand carved ceiling

Moroccan family home interiors
This walled city, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, will transport you back to mediaeval times. Fes, in my opinion is quite a bohemian city as it is populated by an assortment of artisans and craftsman and a University entitled al-Karaouine or al-Qarawiyyin (Arabic: جامعة القرويين) It is the oldest continually operating university in the world. The al-Karaouine was founded by a woman (Yes, a Woman!) Fatima al-Fihri, making Fes rather progressive, individual and eccentric in comparison to other places in Morocco and in fact most parts of the world. If this place existed in the UK I would liken it to the cultural hubs of Liverpool or Bristol. Fez is the medieval capital of Morocco founded by Idris I in 789, and a great city of high Islamic civilization. Fez has the best-preserved old city in the Arab world, the sprawling, labyrinthine medina of Fes el-Bali, which is incidentally also the world’s largest car-free urban zone. Within the medina transports of goods is provided by donkeys, mules and handcarts. Understand that the city infrastructure is not necessarily prepared for tourism, especially English speakers. Try to use Google translate to get across, but learning basic words won’t hurt, and you will see people appreciating your efforts.

Fez crafts women, pottery

Moroccan women painting

clay work in Fez

looking down on Fes

Intrepid tour group

At the main gates of Fes old medina
Some consider Fez to be the handicraft capital of Morocco so if there is something you want made, there is bound to be someone here that can have it crafted for you. The moment you walk into this colourful maze you are surrounded by jewellers, carpenters, silver smiths, potters, weavers, painters and you must stop over at the tanneries where you can witness locals hand dyeing & tanning large leather hides in huge stone containers before allowing the hide to dry in the sun and being crafted into purses, bags and shoes. Leathergoods, copper and brassware are the bargains to be had, although you may also find good prices on drums and other musical instruments.

walking through Fes medina

Olive oil soap in fes

Moroccan dried henna leaves

the streets of Fes

carpets and tapestries in Fes

shopping in Fes Morocco

local butcher in Fez medina

camel head in Fez
Fez is safe, but crowded. Take standard precautions regarding wallet, purse & bags, basically be responsible as you would in any other city. Appear to know where you are going, even if you don’t, or you will get offers from false guides or individuals trying to sell you something. False guides are not dangerous but they can be exasperatingly tenacious. Best technique is to ignore their presence; seems rude but it works and do not be afraid to say “La shukran” in a direct & firm tone, this means “No thank you” and saying that in a less polite way is really hard for me as a British citizen (Us Brits always have to appear polite at all times, even to people we find despicable) but that also really works if ignoring them doesn’t make them go away, they will appreciate you are learning some Moroccan Arabic and a bit more respectful, eventually leaving you alone.

Intrepid tours, the best of Morocco

olives in Fez

foods in Fez medina

interesting electrical wiring in Morocco

very narrow pathway in Fes medina

Locals of Morocco

the famous tanneries of Fes, Fez
The leather Tanneries here are the oldest in the world, dating back at least nine centuries. When getting close to the tannery the smell is the first to appear. The smell drifts around the balcony or the roof from where all the activity can be viewed and is enough to put off the most excited of tourists. The stench is worth braving as the view over the balcony or the roof allows those watching to see a site that has never been changed since the 11th century.

The lifestyle of a tanner is so difficult. it is considered to be one of the hardest and dirtiest careers in Fez.
The art of tanning is run and done by men. Most of the families and workers live around the tanneries and their skills are inherited from generation to generation via the male family tree though a tradition less and less evident as education becomes obligatory and horizons expand.
Intrepid tour guide taking us round Morocco

leather hand made shoes in Fez

Head scarves

Hand made Hijab in Fes Medina

Beautiful blue Hijab in Morocco
Fes is not for the faint hearted, specifically for those who like their comforts. Fes is like a whirlwind and in constant motion, you will be in sensory overload with so much movement, colour, texture, smells and sounds, your mind will be filled with a variety of experiences just from one day visit here. Understanding the words “Belek! Belek” which basically means “Get out of the way!” may save you from being pushed over by traders with mules or huge carts of produce attempting to squeeze past you as you cling to the wall like a star fish. If you enjoy a real good culture shock and are not afraid to step out of your snug hotel room then Fes is for you. If you do visit this vast city, make sure you go with a guide otherwise you will get lost and if you are prone to claustrophobia, the narrow, busy and noisy pathways may be a little overwhelming for you although not impossible to visit if you are prepared and remember to look up at the sky to calm you down. There are wide open spaces once you get to the end of a pathway so you can take a breather and savour your surroundings before you venture down another winding path to your next destination. There are also beautiful museums and some Mosques that visitors are welcome in also.

intrepid group buying Morocccan carpets

hand crafted Moroccan Carpets

Carpets from Fes

Mosque in Fes

beautiful Mosque in Fez medina

Katie Ness sunflowerteeth lifestyle blog
Fes is probably one of Jon’s favourite destinations from this entire Moroccan tour, and why wouldn’t it be? This place is a dream for Photographers! I did really enjoy visiting this city, It is truly magical with it’s unruly medina maze, it’s crumbling & dishevelled exterior walls and cascading mosaic interiors that leave you speechless. This place sits between two worlds, the world of humbling ruin and the world of ravishing craftsmanship & Interior design. After a full day of exploring Fes we stayed over night in our hotel before awaken at first light to travel to our next destination: Midelt, which was probably my favourite experience out of the entire trip.

Apologies for taking a while to continue writing about our adventure around Morocco, It’s been a busy few months! If you missed my previous write-ups about other places in Morocco we stopped at here are all the links:
Day one & two in Casablanca
Day three/Afternoon in Rabat
Day Four/Morning in Meknes
Day Four/Afternoon in Volubilis

To view Jon’s awesome commerical & travel photography click here:
Jon Roberts Photography Blog

Morocco: Volubilis

Soon after the morning site seeing within Meknes our group took a short drive in the afternoon up to Volubilis. It was a warm sunny day with some mild rain showers & a thunder cloud in the distance. I love visiting old ruins & ancient places because it makes me feel nostalgic and imagine what life must have been like in past civilizations.

Volubilis (Arabic: وليلي‎ Walīlī) is a partly excavated Roman city in Morocco situated near Meknes between Fes and Rabat. Built in a fertile agricultural area, it was developed from the 3rd century BC onwards as a Phoenician (and later Carthaginian) settlement. It grew rapidly under Roman rule from the 1st century AD onwards and expanded to cover about 40 hectares (100 acres) with a 2.6 km (1.6 mi) circuit of walls. The city gained a number of major public buildings in the 2nd century, including a basilica, temple and triumphal arch. Its prosperity, which was derived principally from olive growing, prompted the construction of many fine town-houses with large mosaic floors. This was once a very sophisticated & grand city.
landscape around Meknes and Volubilis, travel and tourism in Morocco

wild flowers in Morocco

natural landscapes in Meknes

Volubilis

ancient Roman ruins in Morocco

day tour in Volubilis

ancient buildings of Volubilis

Roman Mosaic

ancient Roman temple, excavation project in Morocco

 triumphal arch

Built on a shallow slope below the Zerhoun mountain, Volubilis stands on a ridge above the Wadi Khoumane

Volubilis has been inhabited at least since the Late Atlantic Neolithic

Our entire day venturing around Meknes and Volubilis was jam packed with site seeing, soaking up the history & culture of this area but this stop was short and sweet and it wasn’t long before we all lugged our backpacks into the mini van to drive to our next destination: Onwards to Fes!

Missed previous Moroccan Posts? View them here:
Day one & two in Casablanca
Day three/Afternoon in Rabat
Day Four/Morning in Meknes

Alternatvly you can visit Jon’s Blog to see some stunning Travel Photography of Morocco.

Morocco: Meknes

Meknes

After an afternoon in Rabat our group hopped on a 4 hour train ride to Meknes where we stayed the night. Our train journey was an interesting one, half of our group (including Jon & I) ended up in a bare carriage with no seats and eventually surrounded by locals. We all shared cake and enjoyed having conversations with the natives. Moroccans are a very friendly and curious bunch as I discovered when I ended up in conversation with a Maths teacher who wanted to share his music with me on his iphone!
One thing I learned whilst in Morocco is that in comparison to other cultures, it is considered rude to eat snacks on local transport like trains and not offer any to those around you, it is always polite to try and share what you have even if the locals decline. I think this is a lovely thing to do considering us Brits are rather greedy and like to keep things to ourselves, the British culture as a whole does not like sharing and that includes personal space, food, clothing and having conversations that involve having to share any form of emotion. So this small gesture of kindness in Morocco is rather refreshing as I am always open to sharing and giving. Whilst on the 4 hour train journey it was interesting to slowly watch the landscape change from flat and industrial to lush with rolling hills.

Our group arrived in Meknes in the early evening and it was raining with a slight chill in the air! (Yes. It does rain in Morocco) so once we were designated to our rooms in the hotel and had 15 minutes to freshen up we all ventured out for our evening meal. I will say from what I saw of the city, this could be another place Westerners could live, it reminded me a little of the Lake District in England because it is located near the Atlas Mountains, Meknes has a seasonal climate, shifting from cool in winter to hot days in the summer months of June–September.

Meknes was the capital of Morocco under the reign of Moulay Ismail (1672–1727), before it was relocated to Marrakech. Meknes is named after a Berber tribe which was known as Miknasa (native Berber name: Imeknasen) in the medieval North African sources.
train journey from Rabat to Meknes

atlas mountains

travel hot spots in Morocco

Moroccan culture

Moroccan tiles

authentic Moroccan tea

the locals in Morocco

the Berber culture

DSC07790
In the morning we all jumped into taxis and wandered out to some of the sites Meknes has to offer. The taxi ride was quite a squeeze with 4 of us in the back plus the taxi driver and 2 locals in the front! Our first destination was The Moulay Ismail’s granaries which were ingeniously designed. Tiny windows, massive walls and a system of underfloor water channels kept the temperatures cool and air circulating. He didn’t store food for humans, but grain and hay to feed his 12.000 horses. The first few vaults have been restored, but those beyond stand in partial ruin, row upon row.

Amongst international filmmakers, Martin Scorsese shot part of the “Last Temptation of Christ”here.

Meknes Morocco

travel to Morocco

the best of the Moroccan culture

the city of Meknes

travel to Morocco

travel and tourism africa

Katie Ness sunflowerteeth travel writer
The next place we visited was a rather eerie one and some of us opted not to go inside. Basically Meknes saw its golden age as the imperial capital of Moulay Ismail following his accession to the Sultanate of Morocco (1672–1727). He installed under the old city a large prison to house Christian sailors captured on the sea, aswell as this constructed numerous edifices, gardens, monumental gates & mosques. Some of our group walked inside the underground prison that used to hold Christian sailors primarily from Cornwall. These prisoners were trapped in utter darkness (The small light holes were added later for tourists). I felt strange walking around this ghostly place because I was born Catholic (Although my faith leans more towards Hindu/Buddhism now) and Jon has Cornish ancestry, I half joked that perhaps one of his ancestors had been captured and imprisoned in this place once upon a time? I had mixed feelings towards good & evil and war & peace, I felt slightly saddened that such a place was once in use but at the same time remembered how brutal Christians have been to other cultures through out history. As a free spirit I can not imagine what it must have felt like to be packed like sardines in complete darkness and utterly lonely in any kind of cell in any part of the world, I’d go mad and I am pretty sure a lot of these prisoners did. This was a really interesting part of history.

the christian prisons in Meknes

underground Christian prison

The sultan turned Meknes into a impressive city in Spanish-Moorish style, surrounded by high walls with great doors, where the harmonious blending of the Islamic and European styles of the 17th century Maghreb are still evident today.
DSC05216

DSC05207

DSC07880

For lunch we all ventured into the Medina to try Camel Burgers! I was quite surprised at how tasty Camel meat was, it is very similar in texture to beef only slightly more tender and less chewy and covered in a variety of herbs and spices! If you are not vegetarian I recommend you taste a bit of camel meat from a local vendor in the streets of Morocco because you won’t find such delicious food on your hotel’s menu.
DSC05358

DSC08103

DSC08096

DSC05355

DSC08094 copy

DSC05299

Our last stop was Museum of Moroccan Art (Dar Jamai) which was built in 1882 as the residence of the illustrious Jamai family and was converted into the Museum of Moroccan Art in 1920. The museum retains the rich traditional decor of painted wood and sculpted plaster that were popular interior flourishes for the 19th century Moroccan higher-classes. There is also an exquisite Andalusian-style garden outside. The museum is devoted to arts and craft of the region and there are wonderful examples of wrought ironwork and wood carving. One of the rooms is set out as a typical example of a Moroccan reception room from the late 19th century, which will give you some idea how the rich of Meknes lived during this period. I really loved the Berber jewellery on display at this museum because it gave me so many great ideas and inspiration for my tribal belly dance costume.
DSC08049

DSC08024

DSC08002

DSC08165

Before we all marched back to our mini van, Jon & I befriended a Local Berber who owned a souvenir shop and he also hand crafts his own pieces of Silver work called “Damasquinerie” and involves hammering tiny silver threads onto metal to create elaborate patterns on bowls, hands of Fatima, statues and jugs. This form of craft can only be found in Meknes and this is where I bought my first souvenir which was a sweet little metal bracelet with silver markings on it’s surface, I instantly fell in love with that bracelet and knew it would look so good with my tribal belly dance costume.
DSC07902

DSC07890

Moroccan silver work

DSC08058

DSC08185

I really enjoyed my visit to Meknes because it’s quite a sweet and quirky little city and I would definitely stay there again.
Stay tuned for next weeks blog post about our following destination: Volubilis!

Or if you missed the first two Moroccan Blog Posts:
First Destination: 2 DAYS IN CASABLANCA.
Second Destination: ONE DAY IN RABAT.