Fès is the second largest city in Morocco founded in 789, located in the centre of the country. It is famous as the founding place of Islam in Morocco, has the oldest madrasa (university) in the world and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It’s a huge sprawling city with a densely packed population and it’s pretty easy to get lost unless you know where you are going. Not for the feint hearted! Typical temperatures in October are supposed to be 24C, but we sweated through the medina in 35C! The year has been incredibly hot in Morocco with 40-45C being a regular occurrence during the summer months around Meknes and Fes.
I have to say I didn’t feel particularly safe in Fes. We haven’t had a problem with being hassled anywhere in Morocco, especially with my wife being local, but they wouldn’t leave us alone in Fes and started being nasty when we said no, so we turned around and went back to our hotel yesterday, which was a great shame. Perhaps it’s because we were going out in the low-season and they were desperate for tourists, but I wouldn’t advise anyone to go out without and official guide (the real ones are licenced with a card), not least because it is so huge it’s quite easy to get lost.
We went back with a guide this morning and had a much better experience. Our guide was Ahmed (pictured below) and he was an old local gentleman who everyone seemed to know, he sneered and shouted at anyone who dare approach us or try to rip us off! Quite a character! Because he knows everyone we managed to get into most places for free, and some we wouldn’t normally get into dressed as westerners. I wanted to take a strong portrait of him to show his character, so I asked him if he’d pose at the end of our tour. I quickly set the X-Pro 1 up for a portrait, shuffled him into the doorway of our hotel to get a strong light to one side of him, and he just gave me this look that captured him perfectly.
A small selection of photos I took from Fes yesterday evening and today are included below. I’d encourage you to look at them in full-screen on Flickr to get the best out of them. Again, the X100 and X-Pro made me feel much better about taking photos than had I been carrying a big pro dSLR around and enabled me to fire off some shots, especially with the X100 that I wouldn’t have done otherwise, particularly in the mosque where photography isn’t forbidden, but silence is respected. Obviously for religious reasons the normal western tourist isn’t allowed inside the mosques, but they are beautiful tranquil places and I’ve included a few photos.