Friday's journey to Morocco was more of an odyssey. We left for the airport at 1:30 to catch our 4:55PM Iberia flight to Madrid. The taxi drive to the airport took almost an hour (over half of the drive in bumper-to-bumper city traffic), but we arrived in plenty of time to find our way around the airport. The mode of boarding many flights in this part of the world is when the flight is called (and it may not be announced), everyone crowds up to the door, and jams into a bus. The bus then goes quite a distance out to where the plane is parked. Everybody gets aboard at once, and we then take off a short time after that. The flight to Madrid was four hours, then there was a very long walk to another terminal to catch the Royal Air Moroc flight to Casablanca. The Casablanca airport may be the most confusing one we've experienced. After much running back and forth, we boarded the flight to Fes, arriving at midnight, went through immigration and customs, and were overjoyed to see our guide, Jalil, outside customs holding a big sign with our name on it and "Classic Journeys". We were driven to our hotel in Fes, the Riad Ghita, a wonderful, old, and genuine family owned and run,16th century Moroccan home with ornate decoration of carving, painting, and etched plaster. You have to see the pictures included here to understand what we are saying. Our room is huge, and there are only seven rooms in the guesthouse.
After falling into bed for the night (at 1:30AM), we awoke and could finally really see where we were. We went to the rooftop garden of the guesthouse and found three other group members there eating a delicious Moroccan breakfast. We needed to just rest for the remainder of the morning, and then some light lunch at the guesthouse, and joining our group of six at 2:00 for a driving tour of Fes. The tour started at the king's palace, one of several that he has in Morocco. The Jewish Quarter is across from the palace. The Moroccan Jews first came around 500 BC, and another wave followed when both the Moors and Jews were expelled from Spain during the Inquisition. There is a restored old synagogue here that we also toured. Then we proceeded to drive around the perimeter of the city, stopping for some great views of the city, ending at the ceramic factory where they make beautiful tiles for roofing and floors, as well as mosaic decorative things like parts of walls, table tops, and plates. The kilns are fired with dried olive pits - now that's a recycling idea that also cuts down on deforestation and provides the intense heat required by the kilns. Dinner that night was at a Moroccan restaurant with many courses of quite spicy food.