My long trip to Fes began not an hour after our excursion group returned to Marrakech- I literally said my farewells to my trip-mates, took a cab to the train station, bought my ticket, and stepped onto the train just moments before it departed. From that point on, it was nothing but a waiting game until I made it to my final destination, which I spent burning through a novel and checking the time far too frequently for my own good.
Around 10pm, the conductor (who was also a policeman, as he explained to me) relocated me to a closed car with an older man. Initially, I was clueless as to why he was so insistent that I sit in that particular car (the conductor nothing more than basic English), but I went with it nonetheless, taking a short nap in the meantime. When I woke, the conductor was ushering three young Moroccan women into my car; they were visibly shaken and had clearly been harassed by some of the young men who kept passing by our car and peering in (needless to say, those young men got kicked off the train a few stops before Fes). Though the young women didn’t speak English, one of them went out of her way in order to arrange a taxi for me, making sure that I was safely inside before we parted ways and offering her home to me for the night if I had any problems. I was absolutely touched by this warm welcome, despite the circumstances of our meeting – it was a pleasant reminder of how wonderful and caring people can be – and I was really happy to have met them.
The hotel (well, house, if I’m to be exact about it), Dar Sienna, is tucked away in the heart of the medina in the religious district, and the property owner ensures her guests’ safe arrival by having the property manager meet the guests and escort them to the property (no, I wasn’t wandering around the medina by myself after midnight, if that was what you were thinking and/or worrying about). After a quick scolding for not getting in touch sooner and checking in, I headed straight to bed, since I had been traveling in car and train for the full day and was, quite frankly, exhausted.
After sleeping in a little, I was finally able to take a look around the house before enjoying a huge breakfast on the rooftop terrace. I was absolutely in awe of the traditional Moroccan decor of the house, and completely fell in love with it. I honestly did not want to leave!! If I wasn’t sold on Dar Sienna from that point, I was completely won over by the amazing service that the staff provided during breakfast. Who can go wrong with being served more food than you can eat while surrounded by a panoramic view of the entire medina?
Just after breakfast, I met a group of architecture students who were sharing the house with me. Luckily for me, they were on their way out the door to explore the medina and invited me to join them. We all hit it off right from the start, and we had plenty of great conversation and memorable moments as we wandered around and visited the old university, the tannery, and the ruins just out of the medina.
Fes was perhaps the first time during the entire trip that I felt 100% comfortable in my surroundings. Though it partially had to do with the fact that I was now one of five young men and women instead of just myself, I also will give credit to how much less touristy the medina was compared to the other cities I visited. I actually felt like I was experiencing Moroccan culture as we were wandering around, instead of being hassled every five minutes by shopkeepers and passers-by. I was so pleased to hook up with a great group of people, because let’s face it: as much as I enjoy being on my own, it’s always much more enjoyable to have other people to share an adventure with, however brief. Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and after a wonderful last meal and sharing some hookah, we said our goodnights and goodbyes and went to bed.
The following morning, I took an early train back to Casablanca to catch my flight back to Madrid, and one of the guys was considerate enough to walk me to the edge of the medina to catch my cab to the train station. What was equally nice was the fact that the cab driver didn’t try to overcharge me for the drive (as had been a usual occurrence throughout the trip). As my trip began, so it ended – one girl traveling solo in Morocco – and I couldn’t have ended it on a better note.