May 16, 2013 GMT
Meknes a real gem


When we drove into Meknes for the first time we did not notice what a gem this place actually is as all we wanted was getting to Marrakech as quick as possible

Its one of the places I would definitely visit again

On the way back we unexpectedly had to extend our stay because Harry was not feeling well .
He was feeling fine when walked up to the medina on the evening we arrived and but we think there was something in the salad that did not agree with him.

Meknes was once the capital of Morocco under the reign the mighty Moulay Ismail in the 17th/ 18th century.

He built the impressive gate Bab Mansour, that leads into the medina with the palace and his mausoleum

Sadly, the palace and mausoleum of the Moulay were closed that day, so I decided to head for the Place
el Hedim and visit the palace Dar Jamai

The place much smaller than the Djama el Fna in Marrakech but full of life and cafes were you can relax and watch the world go by

There are all the gates that lead into the souks and unlike the markets in Marrakech there were almost no Europeans wandering around

The atmosphere is more relaxed and when we sat there the night before the local kids were brought there by the parent for a ride on the donkeys , ponies or a spin in little electric cars .

I dived right into the souks and a wold of colour,, the smell of spices, sweets, secret beauty potions and
food from all corners of the country open up in front of me .

Fresh dates, dried apricots, figs lemon and , almonds ,large varieties of nuts, spice, herbs and huile d’Argan were sold in the lane with olives, pickled lemon and fresh herbs.

Butchers selling fresh cuts of lamb and goat, fish mongers and the chicken were still alive when they were sold.

But what really caught my attention was the large selection of sweets and pastry, I have never seen such a large amount of little artfully decorated pastry, petit fours.

I treated myself with a small selection of sweets and when I finally eat them they tasted delicious.

It was time for a break and nothing tasts bettter than 2 glases of delicious fresh orange juis, the best in the world, and a salad before I decided to visit the Palace Dar Jamai

It was built in 1882 as the residence of the illustrious Jamai family, which included two of Moulay el-Hassan's ministers. Later it was as a military hospital after 1912 and was converted to The Museum of Moroccan Art in 1920.

The museum retains the rich traditional decor of painted wood and sculpted plaster and features an exquisite Andalusian garden similar to the Badi Palace in Marrakech .. The museum is devoted to the arts and crafts of the region, including wrought ironwork, wood carving, weaving, leather-work, brass and copper-
smithing, and other metalwork.

And like many other museums and sites in Morocco you can walk around freely .The infrastructure is simple and works well. No shop selling merchandising, no coffee shop. You can always hire a guide if you want some detailed information and there is loads of cafes and shops outside in the nearby souks.

I could not see any expensive surveillance camreas and I noticed no graffiti or other traces left behind by visitors.
In many places we visited it seems that vandalism is not common in Morocco
Things like public parks or place might need some maintenance, might look a bit shabby , but you would not see deliberately damaged park benches, bins set on fire or littering.

Posted by Barbara Halter at 05:02 PM GMT

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