After packing our backpacks, loading the car and having breakfast, we greeted Anass. Ready to leave Chefchaouen and start our road trip toward Volubilis and Moulay Idriss. For several kilometres we just run through again the same road we took to reach Chefchaouen. Everything was green around us, we crossed several olive tree fields, and we saw shepherds and farmers working in the fields.
Lunch in Ouazzane: the green city
Around lunch time, we were crossing Ouazzane, so we decided to stop there for lunch. While we started looking around, Fede started talking with a local old man. He was a teacher, and in less than 5 minutes, he became our local guide. He took us to lunch in a place probably visited only by locals. We had a great salad and a sort of felafel pita (the all lunch was less than 100 Dirham, tip included). While we were having lunch he entertained Tommy, thought us few Arabic words and wrote our names in Arabic.
After lunch he guided us through the center of the city. He showed us the only octagonal minaret in all Morocco and the green walls characterizing the medina. Our improvised guide showed us also few local artisans. An old man creating very long bikes from any material he could recycle, and a weaver of typical local dresses. He also showed us the entrace of few palaces. He wanted to show us more, but we were in a hurry to reach Volubilis. So we finally convinced him, it was enough 🙂
Exploring Volubilis: 2000 years old UNESCO World Heritage
After crossing more amazing landscapes, we finally reached the archeological site of Volubilis. We had an ice cream with the kids (not at the souvenir shop, where the price for the cheapest was 40 Dirham!). Then we entered the archeological area.
The site you can visit today is the result of several years of reconstruction. Some of which have been criticised by Unesco, for being too invasive. It seems that the city was abandoned after an earthquake. Later large part of the ruins were sacked to build palaces in Meknes. There were still few monuments standing up in the 14th century, according to the chronicles. After the “Lisbon Earthquake“, that was not the case anymore.
The archeological area is quite waste, and it offers a lot to explore for the kids! We opted to not use the stroller, and it was a good idea. There are few steps around and also in the paths, moving the stroller around may have been painful. Late afternoon, at least at the end of February, it is a good time to visit Volubilis. Most of the tourist busses were leaving when we arrived: we had the chance to explore the ruins almost alone. Beyond that, sunset there is really nice, from the Triumphal Arch you have a nice scene over the surrounding countryside.
Tommy and Giò were very enthusiastic about the idea of jumping on every wall and rock block we crossed! They got super excited by the storks on top of the columns at the basilica! The basilica was theatre to a very funny musical exhibition from the family! 😜 The site is also full of mosaics: some of them are just amazing! Tommy was very excited in the attempt of recognising the animals depicted in some of them.
Moulay Idriss: where nowadays Morocco was born
Our first really negative experience in Morocco
After the visit to the ruins, we headed to Molay Idriss, where we booked for the night. We hadn’t even step out of the car, that a guy tried to promote himself as our guide… He was very annoying and insisting. After a long discussion, we got rid of him, and we looked around for a place to have dinner. First we tried a place inside the medina recommended on TripAdvisor, but when we reached it, the door was closed. So we went back to the main square, where everyone was watching “el clasico”. We ended up in one of the tents along the street heading to the main square. Worst experience ever in Morocco! 😞 While the food was good, the guy tried to charge us almost double the price on the menu. By magic, the price of a sandwich with french fries, was almost double than buying a sandwich and french fries separately. The thing lead to a long discussion. Finally we bargained a bit of discount, but still far from the proper price.
After that, we got back to the car to take the backpacks. With the help of the parking guard, we reached our accommodation at Kasabah Senhaji. Asia and its family welcomed us very kindly! They made sure we had everything we needed to have a great sleep 🙂
Exploring the holy city of Morocco
The next morning Asia welcomed us with an outstanding breakfast! She was so in love with the kids that she gave us as a present a box of home made cookies!!! Super delicious 😋!
We were ready to explore! Moulay Idriss is named after a descending of Prophet Muhammad. He escaped to Morocco from the Arabic penisole and founded Morocco. Idriss settled the city around 789 AD, and later the city was transformed into an holy city around his tomb. Unless you are Muslim, you cannot visit his tomb. By walking around the city you can find a couple of terraces that will offer you a great view on it. From the top part of the Médina you can also reach easily the mosque with the famous circular minaret. Completed the tour, we got back to the car to return it to Fes.
Getting on the train to Marrakesh
To get back to Fes we followed Google maps, for a while it looked the best idea ever! We were crossing amazing landscapes! Till we reached a narrow dirt road with no real alternative if not driving back almost all the way. So carefully and slowly we followed it, luckily the dirty part was not that long and we reached Fes around 2. We decided to have lunch at the only libanese restaurant in the city. Good choice! Food was great, and they loved the kids 🙂 The final plus is that they found us a person to clean the car (to avoid to pay the cleaning fee to the agency). With a shining car, we got back to the car rental: he offered himself to drive us to the train station! Super kind 😊
We took from there the 17:30 train to Marrakesh. Tommy was super excited, we spent lot of time looking out of the window and we had also some nice local sharing their stories with us. We highly recommend the train experience in Morocco 😊
In the next blog entry, we will let you know about our days in Marrakesh!
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