News Home Video Gallery Newsletters Photo Gallery Cruising Int
Sail-World.com : Sailing with Balvenie: Fascinating ancient Fés - Morocco
Sailing with Balvenie: Fascinating ancient Fés - Morocco

'Balvenie - Transport in the souk (market)'    Yacht Balvenie

Balvenie is a 47foot fractional rigged, centre cockpit sloop ,being sailed by Amanda Church and Mark Farrell, who have so far sailed her 26,263 miles. Currently they are in Morocco...

Balvenie - Sampling traditional bean soup -  Yacht Balvenie  
Our first inland excursion from Rabat was to the ancient imperial city of Fés. It sits just north west of the Middle Atlas mountains, around 3 1/2 hours by train from Rabat so we decided on an overnight trip, travelling in first class luxury by train with Australian cruisers Andrew and Clare from Eye Candy and Arnie and Jo from Just Jane.

Fés is the oldest of Morocco’s Imperial Cities, the old town medina area was expanded around 800AD and fully walled and the wall still stands to this day with just a few parts missing. It has been home to so many races, cultures and religions over the centuries, each leaving their mark on the city.

The main attraction for us was Fés el-Jdid (Old Fés), an absolute rabbit warren of dusty streets, tiny lanes, dead ends, overhanging buildings, tumbling ruins, hidden souqs and historical sites – what a challenging and interesting place to explore.

Balvenie - everywhere a different sight -  Yacht Balvenie  
We had prebooked our accommodation at Dar Fes Medina, a beautifully restored riad (traditional house) with a handful of tastefully decorated rooms, surrounding a central courtyard and topped off by a pleasant roof terrace. We were made extremely welcome by the helpful staff, and enjoyed mint tea and Moroccan cookies before deciding to go explore the medina.

We split into couples, with so many nooks and crannies to stop and explore, countless twists and turns, it was hard enough just the two of us not to lose each other. We spent a few hours getting lost and found again as we made our way through the never ending maze of lanes.

We discovered the produce market overflowing with freshly picked vegetables; smelt the live chicken market minutes before we were surrounded by feathers; got nudged out of the way by several donkey carts passing us in the impossibly narrow alleys; sampled dates, apricots and olives from an array of colourful stalls; resisted the temptation to slip into a carpet shop or three; mused at cats, chickens, ducks, rabbits and donkeys sharing the same piece of real estate; and stopped for a break in a local ‘hole in the wall’ eatery to try b’sara, a butterbean and garlic soup – yummy.

Getting lost on the way back to the riad was par for the course, but nothing a few dirham to some local lads couldn’t sort out, thought they were pushing it a bit when they wanted €10 for their efforts though – we weren’t as lost as THAT!! Actually, while we were lost we found a parade, in honour of the King.
Balvenie - just what cruisers get up to often -  Yacht Balvenie  
There were several groups of men in traditional regional dress, horses, bands, singing; then we spotted a sacrificial cow tethered to a post with a hood over it’s head – barbequed steak for dinner perhaps??

We, on the other hand, had decided to go with a recommendation from the riad to visit a traditional Moroccan home, with small adjoining restaurant for dinner, Restaurant Dar Hatim. A family member came and collected us and escorted us deep within the bowels of the medina down countless dusty, dark lanes.

Just as we were starting to doubt our judgement on whether this was a good idea we reached a beautifully carved door and stepped into another world. It is truly hard to describe the difference between the dusty, dirty, noisy, chaotic life lived outside these doors, compared to the peace, serenity, cleanliness and often luxurious life on the ‘other side’ , you could never guess from the outside what may lie within.

Balvenie - Restaurant views -  Yacht Balvenie  
We had a tour of their exquisitely renovated home, sat on the roof top terrace and sampled a vista of Fés by night, while sipping on an excellent Moroccan white wine, then enjoyed a wonderful meal in their 'tented restaurant'. What a finish to an excellent day.

With a mosque as our neighbour the familiar call to prayer woke us on Day 2 in Fés, however at 4.30am I think it is quite reasonable to roll over and try to snatch a couple more hours sleep! After breakfast the six of us left on a walking tour with an official Tourist Office guide – he took us back into the medina and shared his local insiders knowledge.

So it was another assault on our senses as we wove our way through even tinier lanes than we had dared to venture down the previous day. Tucked away behind what could only be described as derelict looking buildings, we experienced firstly a weaving business, the looms, threads and finished products were located under the shaky, bowing eaves, while the centre courtyard was completely open to the elements – somewhat hard to heat in winter I expect.

Balvenie - There were two more floors above this -  Yacht Balvenie  
The next Aladdins Cave was the Carpet Co-operative, it seems even on a Tourist Office tour you can not escape being taken to a carpet shop. But it was worth seeing, if only for the beauty of the building, 3 stories high, fully tiled and truly magnificent. The 360 degrees view from the rooftop was excellent then looking down into the atrium from the top floor, with carpets cascading over the banisters, well, it was hard to beat. The carpets, well they were somewhat impressive too, and I confess, we did make a purchase and now own a small Moroccan Cactus Silk carpet - we probably would all still be there if we hadn’t!

Next up was the leather tannery, just how to describe it leaves me lost for words. When you arrive (via a leathers products retail shop!) you are given a bunch of fresh mint, something to sniff on when the dreadful smells of the tannery processes just gets way overbearing. You can see livestock lined up over to one side, unawares of their plight. Luckily you don’t see what happens next, but then you can see all the skins hung around the place, drying out before going into the pits. The tanning pits are in two sections, the white ones are full of lime and pigeon pooh (truly), the men working in them almost up to their thighs – they did however wear rubber gloves, hardly much protection.

The other pits have natural dyes in them like indigo, saffron and poppy - the men designated to these pits must go home looking like a rainbow each night. The men are paid 'by piece', the faster they work the more they can earn, we understand the maximum daily wage to be around €30, I don’t know how many hours they work to achieve this.

Sons get the 'opportunity' to learn from their fathers then take over his pit when the time comes. When you next think you are having a bad day, not appreciated at work, need a pay rise etc ….. spare a thought for these guys, it looked like hell down there, and I can’t even imagine how bad it would be in the middle of winter.

Balvenie - skins, workers washing and the pits -  Yacht Balvenie  
We moved on to some historical sites, took a look at a Water Clock - an interesting piece of work with 12 windows and spouting that runs along, as the water fills up the window shutters move to indicate the time. It no longer works and is in desperate need of restoration but is seems nobody actually can work out just quite how it worked so restoration plans are on hold!!!

There were mosques, museums, markets and more – we saw it all – after nearly four hours it was time to call it a day before our brains went into total overload. We relaxed in a square drinking coffee as hundreds of men passed us having just finished Friday prayers. This is very much a lived in medina, 450,000 people live within it’s walls in buildings that have stood for centuries – most of them looking much the same as when they were built.

However time has not quite stood still - power cables run on the outside of the external walls, pavement levels have been risen to allow for pipes to be laid and when you get to a roof top vantage point the skyline is dominated by cheap Chinese satellite dishes, cellphone towers peek over the high walls, all to remind you it is the 21st century..

But overall the ancient imperial city of Fés still has a mystical medieval feel to it, and it was great to get the opportunity to spend a couple of days exploring it.

To follow Balvenie's story, go to their website


by Amanda Church and Mark Farrell

  

Click on the FB Like link to post this story to your FB wall

http://www.sail-world.com/index.cfm?nid=89845

9:19 PM Fri 21 Oct 2011GMT


Click here for printer friendly version
Click here to send us feedback or comments about this story.

Click for further information on
Adventure Cruising

Related News Stories:

19 Feb 2012  Can you beat this? 36 years spent long range cruising
24 Jan 2012  A sailing adventure: Late Night Visitor
10 Jan 2012  Inland waterways - an anchoring challenge Downunder
03 Jan 2012  'By the Berth' sailing holidays - making life easy
01 Jan 2012  Sailing into Rangiroa Atoll, a breath-stopping entry
13 Dec 2011  An eBook for just $10: '101 Dollar Saving Tips for Sailors'
20 Nov 2011  A mammoth cruising voyage completed by Scotsman
18 Sep 2011  Australian adventure sailors challenge the North West Passage
14 Sep 2011  Sailing with Balvenie: Spain's Atlantic coastline
05 Sep 2011  Sailing with Balvenie - finding a real Spanish Bullfight
MORE STORIES ...






Cruising USA

The Marion to Bermuda Cruising Yacht Race have announced the opening of registration for its 20th anniversary, which will commence on June 19, 2015. Supported by the Beverly YC of Marion, Mass., the Royal Hamilton Amateur Dinghy Club of Paget, Bermuda, and the Blue Water SC of Boston, Mass., the race is open to seaworthy yachts appropriate for an offshore ocean race as defined in the USSER. ... [more]  

Just the thought of falling overboard scares most sailors into a 'stay-aboard-at-all-costs' mindset. And yet this most serious of sailing emergencies does happen now and then. Recovery will be tough no matter what the marine weather conditions. ... [more]  

If a car or truck's vanity license plate can tell you a lot about the person behind the wheel, what can a boat name tell you about the person behind the helm? ... [more]  

The Cauden Basin in Port Louis has come alive with rally atmosphere over the last week. Transformed to a vibrant marina with yachts dressed overall, boat parties and welcoming new arrivals has made for a great spectacle and an exciting place to be. ... [more]  

Boyan Slat is a 20-year-old on a mission - to rid the planet's oceans of floating plastic. He has dedicated his teenage years to finding a way of collecting it. But can the system really work - and is there any point when so much new plastic waste is still flowing into the sea every day? ... [more]  

Tell me what self-respecting Galley Guy could possibly (while on the beautiful island of Barbados) turn down an opportunity to tour the famous Mount Gay Rum Distillery? For sure, not this Galley Guy! Sadly, the other Galley Guys did not get the call. ... [more]  

Nv charts announces the release of their newly updated chart set for Region 9.1, Bahamas Northwest, including Bimini and Berry Islands, Nassau to Abaco, and Grand Bahama, for 2015-2016 in paper and digital format. ... [more]  

We are northwest of the southern peninsula of Haiti lying within radar range south of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and drifting in the current in the direction of Port-au-Prince at less than a knot. ... [more]  

The 60ft Makayabella was stormed by elite members of the Irish Navy some 200 nautical miles off Mizen Head - Ireland's most southerly point - in the early hours of Tuesday, September 23rd. Five men, including the three onboard the yacht and another two in England, have been arrested and police are hunting for a sixth man in connection with the seizure. ... [more]  

A pearl among Gulf Islands parks, this sandy haven is ideal for hiking, beachcombing, birding, fishing…or just hanging. Sidney Spit is a park of superlatives. With the best sandy shores, the best sunsets, the best crabbing and some of the best hiking in the Gulf Islands, it’s no wonder it’s a hit with just about all who visit – for a few hours, a day or a week. ... [more]  

Vast, magnificent and remote, Prince William Sound offers the ultimate adventure for cruisers on North America’s West Coast. Few cruising boats visit beautiful and remote Prince William Sound. Some 2,800 square miles in area and situated at the very northern tip of the Gulf of Alaska, this inland sea has a coastline equal to that of Oregon and California combined. ... [more]  

Cast off on a cruise on someone else's boat and you'll want to remember to pack those basic essentials that form the foundation of your personal 'sailing ditty bag'. Each sailor will have their own ideas of the best gear to bring aboard. But here are some pieces of gear I've found to come in handy time and again, day after day. ... [more]  

This was our eleventh Malacca Straits passage, and it turned out to be just like some of the others - a pain in the neck. Keeping in mind that the boat hadn't been actively used for fifteen months, we started cautiously with a 40 mile passage from Singapore to Pulau Pisang. ... [more]  

The Marion Bermuda Race and Harraseeket Yacht Club are thrilled to announce a cruising yacht rally from Maine to Marion in advance of the 2015 Marion to Bermuda race. Called the M2M2B, the rally will be an enjoyable and convenient way for Maine-based yacht skippers to sail from Maine to Marion, MA as they stage their boats for the 2015 Marion-Bermuda race. ... [more]  

The Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) revealed in a peer-reviewed journal, PLoS One on October 9th that inshore reefs are particularly vulnerable to Ocean Acidification (OA)* on the Great Barrier Reef (GBR). 'We found that inshore reefs were particularly vulnerable to ocean acidification (OA) during the wet season. ... [more]  

Estimating the diversity of life by Australian Institute of Marine Science
How many species are on Earth? Answering this simple question is not easy, but essential if we are to understand impacts of global change and manage environmental resources successfully. Without baseline knowledge of how many we have or what we have in different places, how do we know what we have lost, or might lose and how do we manage these natural resources to minimise extinctions? ... [more]  

NOAA, with assistance from the U.S. Coast Guard, will manage the historic wreck of Diamond Shoal Lightship No. 71, the only American lightship to be sunk by enemy action during World War I. The two agencies signed a formal agreement between NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries and the Coast Guard’s Historian's Office last month. ... [more]  

A British couple was rescued off Spain's Almeria coast after their 21.6m yacht caught fire. The Coastguard and the 112 Emergency Coordination Service received several reports of a flare going up 12 nautical miles east of Carboneras at 11:30pm on Saturday. ... [more]  

We sail with just two crew most times, so it was amazing to visit a vessel with a ship's crew of 3000, plus another 3000 'passengers' being the various air wing teams deployed aboard. That's 6000 people on a ship that is 1000' long, and displaces 192,900 tons. ... [more]  

Nature’s Own founder Vaughan Bullivant had previously hoped to get around $65 million for the Daydream Island resort he paid $25 million for in 2000. But with his health deteriorating and the island failing to sell in two years, agents have convinced Mr Bullivant to lower his expectations — and the price — to about $30 million. ... [more]  

After sailing approximately 2350 nautical miles, the first of the World ARC fleet has arrived in Port Louis, Mauritius. Nexus, the 17.90 meter Semi Custom Catamaran skippered by Russell Owen, arrived today in the late afternoon. Completing the passage in 13 days, a warm welcome ashore greeted them with offerings of fruit and rum! ... [more]  

A new research project being run by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) with the support of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) and the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) is exploring attitudes towards risk and safety, and the various ways yacht sailors participate in their sport. ... [more]  

Will your lifelines pass this sailing test? by Captain John Jamieson, Florida
Most production sailboats have lifelines these days, but just how safe are they. Would they keep your sailing crew or partner, spouse or family members safe in all sailing weather-fair or foul? Put your lifelines to the test today with these five easy sailing tips. ... [more]  

After her gruelling and eventful maiden voyage of over 8000 miles, Aventura was left in the care of the New England Boatworks in Portsmouth, R.I., to give her a thorough service before being exhibited at the Annapolis boat show. With everything done on time, my crew joined me last Saturday ready for the passage to Annapolis. ... [more]  

Super Typhoon Vongfong reached sustained winds of 155 mph (250 km/h) this morning (Oct. 7), with gusts of up to 190 mph (306 km/h), according to the U.S Navy's Joint Typhoon Warning Center in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. ... [more]  

The Commander in charge of the warship that helped rescue a stricken sailor says she is proud of her company. Conditions during the drama, which began with a May Day distress call on Monday afternoon, were intense, with heavy rain, wind, little light and an incoming electrical storm. ... [more]  

Earth Wind Map - with typhoons by Sail-World Cruising
The Earth Wind Map is an amazing project to visualize global weather conditions carried out by Tokyo based software engineer Cameron Beccario, resulting in a beautifully mesmerising depiction of the earth's winds. Weather data is produced by the Global Forecast System (GFS), operated by the US National Weather Service. Forecasts are produced four times daily and made available for download from NO ... [more]  

For the first time, scientists have used an unmanned aerial vehicle to study killer whales from above. The device they're using is a remote-controlled hexacopter with a high-resolution camera mounted in its belly, and the photos it produces are beautiful and full of detail. The images offer an entirely new view of this species. ... [more]  

Having taken Operation Command of the EU Naval Force at the end of August, a priority for Major General Martin Smith MBE was to visit the Horn of Africa and the east African region to strengthen ties with the EU’s partners and highlight EU Naval Force’s commitment in the fight against Somali piracy. ... [more]  

Since leaving the paradise of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands exactly one week ago, the World ARC fleet have made good progress towards their next destination of Port Louis, located on the western coast of Mauritius. Awaiting the fleet is a beautiful island with its blend of diverse cultures and religions including Hindus, Creole, Chinese, Muslims and Europeans. ... [more]  

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) researchers are part of a collaborative effort to understand and monitor changes in marine biodiversity within U.S. coastal waters. Marine biodiversity is a key indicator of ocean health and critical to sustaining natural resources such as fisheries. ... [more]  

In preparation for his forthcoming circumnavigation with the Blue Planet Odyssey round the world rally, Jimmy Cornell completed this summer a grueling test of his new 45 foot Aventura, an Exploration 45 aluminum centreboard yacht built by Garcia Yachting in France. ... [more]  

Join Andy Schell and Mia Karlsson, event managers at our World Cruising Club USA base, for the 45th edition of the Annapolis Sailboat Show. For the first time, WCC USA will be featuring a boat in the show (in lieu of a booth this year), to demonstrate what it takes to make a classic cruiser into a proven bluewater voyager. ... [more]  

Canadian shipwreck discovery solves 170-year-old mystery
British couple help stranded Syrian refugees to safety
Blue Planet Odyssey yacht completes Northwest Passage transit
World ARC fleet embarks on leg 11, across the Indian Ocean
Pantaenius and Camper & Nicholsons Marinas become strategic partners
How to make a distance scale for faster navigation
New maps of the polar regions reveal unseen world beneath the ice
Naval Commanders talk on-going piracy threat at sea
Erie, Pennsylvania - Small place, big boating
EU Naval Force frigate, ESPS Navarra aids yacht in the Gulf of Aden
Insurance, towing and safety 'provisions' reminder for snowbirds
A guide to steering without a rudder + Video - a must read and watch!!
You scratched my seagrass!
Cocos Keeling Islands - Yet another paradise for the World ARC fleet
Hurricane Odile: Two Brits missing in Mexico after yacht overturns
Sailor texts girlfriend for help after yacht sinks in Bristol Channel
Gas safety: don’t let it go off the boil
Arctic sea ice summer minimum 2014: A scientific perspective
British Virgin Islands, a taste of Caribbean cruising
The Galley Guys take on the Vancouver International Boat Show
Are you ready to enter that marina?   
Cruising the Bay of Quinte and Thousand Islands   
Ten safe and clean refueling tips for boaters   
World ARC fleet moored at Christmas Island   
Blue Planet Odyssey welcomed to Bora Bora   
Remember to properly dispose of obsolete distress beacons   
Blue Planet Odyssey - Aventura makes landfall in the US   
World ARC fleet bids farewell to Bali   
Antarctic Team discovers mechanism for massive ice shelf collapse   
Baltic 4 Nations - Next edition sets sail July 2015   
BoatUS offers 'Boater's Guide To Winterizing'   
Yachts prepare for second Atlantic Odyssey, departing this November   
Thai drama with Phuket yacht clampdown   
Sailing Rallies launch two new events at PSP Southampton Boat Show   
World ARC crews in Bali   
Could your sailing navigation use a tune-up?   
Images of marine sunsets by Tripadvisor   
Citizen science model proposed to fill fundamental ocean data gap   
Ocean Cruising Club celebrates 60th Anniversary with record gatherings   
The Boat Cookbook   


For this week's complete news stories select    Last 7 Days
   Search All News
For last month's complete news stories select    Last 30 Days
   Archive News







Sail-World.com  


















Switch Default Region to:

Social Media

Asia

Australia

Canada

Europe

New Zealand

United Kingdom


http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/Twitter_logo_small.png http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/FaceBook-icon.png  

United States

Cruising Northern

Cruising Southern

MarineBusiness World

PowerBoat World

FishingBoating World

 

Contact

Commercial

News

Search

Contact Us

Advertisers Information

Submit news/events

Search Stories/Text

Feedback

Advertisers Directory

Newsletter Archive

Photo Gallery

 

Banner Advertising Details

Newsletter Subscribe

Video Gallery

Policies

 

 

 

Privacy Policy

 

 


Cookie Policy

 

 



This site and its contents are © Copyright TetraMedia and/or the original author, photographer etc. All Rights Reserved.  Photographs are copyright by law.  If you wish to use or buy a photograph contact the photographer directly.
XLXL NEW Cru USA
LocalAds   DE  ES  FR  IT