Day 93: Morocco, Fez – Azrou

RouteFez – Azrou, Morocco
Route Details
Overnight stopCamping Amazigh
33.449402, -5.17082
Overnight CostsMAD83
(not recommended)
Diesel / litre MAD9.64 (£0.77)
Exchange rate 12.47

By the time we made our way down the hill back to Kaya last night, we had been shattered and wanted to just fall into bed but donkeys, rubbish tipper trucks and local dogs made sure that it was not so easy. We eventually drifted off with the gorgeous Mr T having promising to haul his arse out of bed early enough for a sunrise. This is not an easy task for a night owl…or someone who thinks he’s sleep deprived if he only has 8 hours of sleep!!

The alarm went off at 6:30 and we sprang (sort-of….. some of us!) into action. Hot coffee gulped down and more in our flasks, dressed with hats, scarves, gloves and layers to keep us warm as we dashed out the door in record time.   Have I mentioned that it’s flippin’ cold overnight and in the mornings.

We made it up the steep steps and hill within 12 minutes – I think the cold had somehow energised us and focussed our minds into getting us there as efficiently and as quickly as possible – and there we sat for another hour, cold seeping into our bums, before the sun started to rise….. but we were rewarded with a spectacular sight over the Marinid Tombs and it was definitely worth the wait.

Finally , the show was over, our early morning tout trying to sell us blankets, hats and scarves, drifted slowly away as we made our way round to the entrance at the back of the Hotel Merinedes. You realise as you step out onto the back verandah stretching right across the hotel, just why it is a back-to-front hotel. It has a 180deg view of Fez and is pretty breathtaking. And before anyone asks, we are here to check it out for friends who we are hoping will join us for a holiday!!!

After the most expensive cup of coffee we had had in Morocco, it was time to make our way over to the Borj Nord museum. A 5 pointed fort built in the 16th century as part of the walls surrounding Fez along with 4 others to provide security and protection for the city. It is sits atop a hill above the car park where Kaya is waiting for us and is now a museum housing an extra-ordinary collection of armaments through the ages, including a 15″ canon used in the Battle of the 3 Kings which allowed Spain to invade them and brought an end to the Portuguese monarchy and their dominance at sea. Well worth a visit ……even for me. Although I was unable to get to the end of one of the points on the roof top terrace to take a picture of the city and walls below – with only a knee high barrier, it proved too much for my vertigo. But the gorgeous Mr T loved it, topped only by catching sight of a Lannier Falcon as it swooped by the ramparts below him.

Then in comparison to the hotel coffee, we crossed over to a local restaurant across the way from Borj Nord, were welcomed in with open arms and had our cheapest and best nous-nous to date. Accompanied by a pile of msemmen (a flaky, roti-like breakfast bread) split open and spread with processed cheese triangles and honey brought in from the kiosk next door. Delicious! And all for a princely sum of MAD12.

It was time to leave and say goodbye to Fez. So we took a slow walk down the hill, passed the cemetery looking very atmospheric in the rising sun

stopping once to buy some of the most delicious macaroons from a street seller that we have ever tasted. Sold only in Fez and only from street sellers – the ones bought from shops more expensive and a pale cousin of the street versions. These macaroons are sort of macaron-ish with a firm exterior and a melting interior, light as a feather, made with almond flour and almond paste, 2 pressed together for a mouthwatering, filling, memorable, sweet, nutty, magical experience – a bit like Fez.

Arriving back at Kaya, we saw  Carolyn and Dave at the Fez parking spot. We had met, as you do, on a Facebook forum when they had put a call out for a paper map for Morocco. We happened to have a surplus one to requirements and we weren’t using it. Map and details swapped, we left them to the city and drove off towards Azrou heading ever further south.

The drive passed in a flash as we fired up our audio book to pass the time, climbing higher and higher through the Mid Atlas mountains. And suddenly our time machine took us out of Morocco and into Switzerland as we drove through Ifrane en route to Azrou. The streets widened, the houses went from flat roofs to high pitched and the garbage in the streets disappeared along with the animals and stray dogs. What’s going on?

Well it seems that like every other country in the world, the rich folk from the drier cities of Morocco have discovered that they can experience a European-like winter, just up the drag from them. Actually it was originally created by the French in 1928 so that their citizens could find relief from the heat of the cities.

We had finally arrived at our stop that we thought we were staying at for a few days but the conditions at Camping Amazigh were fairly dire. With a double whammy of low voltage and a 5A breaker for our connection, we were constantly only able to run 1 thing at a time. It was choosing between heating OR cooking on our electric plate OR charging the vehicle battery OR charging 1 laptop. When I said it was dire, it was! Now I know you’re going to ask the next question: so what about your gas? You can run the stove and heating on it. Ah well, now here’s the complication. We have an refillable LPG system that is perfect everywhere in the world, cheap to run and efficient, except where there are no LPG re-filling stations……like Morocco. So we are eking it out and trying to do that when it’s -4degC outside and heating is an absolute must, then the only way to do it is on electric. See the problem?

30 minutes of hot water from the donkey for showers
& washing up for everyone on the campsite

OMG there’s another Brit on the site! Through the drizzle that has set in, we spotted Andy & Sam with their 2 children, James & Lucia (and their gorgeous Border Collie, Pepper) on the site and went over to introduce ourselves and invite them over for coffee. Wewere really keen to have a chat with them as they were on the opposite journey to us and coming up from the south. But the weather had closed in and was now really raining, so we missed the opportunity. But it wasn’t to be for very long.

We tucked ourselves up in bed, thermals and socks on (it’s a really sexy look, you know!!), hot water bottle toasting our toes, hands wrapped around our hot cups of coffee and spent the rest of the evening quietly reading and waiting for the next morning for when we could change camps.

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