The Beauty Within

Just Like That
6th December 2017

With an evening flight from London Stanstead we stayed at home last night. It still involved a very early start this morning and after a five hour drive down a very busy M6 we felt it would have been better to have driven down last night.

Anyway, we arrived at the airport around 2pm and parked in the Green Short-stay car park quite near to the Radisson Blu hotel. We were flying with Ryanair, our first experience of the Irish budget airline. We've heard plenty of horror stories about them but they were the only option to reach Fez directly from the UK. So, good on them!

Despite our painfully slow journey down we were still a couple of hours too early to be allowed to check-in our luggage, so we walked back to the Radisson for some lunch.

A lovely cheese and chutney sandwich was shared and we had a glass of wine each which came from under the counter and not from the impressive Wine Tower.  We stayed here before a flight to Naples some ten years ago where they had someone abseiling the tower to retrieve bottles. 

Back in departures we checked in our suitcase and walked through security without any bother. Even our travel speakers in our hand luggage, which always gets pulled up, rolled through the x-ray machine without question. Eyebrows were raised.

Next we were forced to walk through the duty free shop where we bought our customary bottle of champagne and a newly acquired  tradition of a large bar of Tolberone. After supper in a Giraffe restaurant we loitered around the Wetherspoons pub until our gate number popped up.

Julie was begining to feel anxious, which spiralled close to a meltdown when we were queing outside in the cold December air.  "I have a bad feeling about this" she said, shaking with fear and mild hypothermia. 

We reached our seats, not our usual row 18 but a few further back where Julie prefers to sit and see that the wings were still there and not on fire.  Ryanair must cram more rows into their Airbus. The reduced legroom was noticable.

The plane sat on the tarmac for half an hour which was an unbearable wait for Julie, surrounded as we were by a large group of screaming kids, cackling mothers and boorish fathers from an extended group of friends. She was almost relieved when we taxied to the runway and took off into the dark. By the time we reached 37,000 feet her composure returned. Three uneventful hours later we descended into Fes Saiss airport.

We hit the ground with quite a bump and screeched to a sudden stop. Julie held her breath, braced for an impact which never came. Thankfully.

Once it became clear we weren't careering off the runway Julie was jubilant in having completed another flight and the holiday could officially begin. 

We walked across the tarmac towards an attractive looking terminal. It was the usual concrete and glass but it had an interesting symmetrical design painted all over. It was very effective.

Waiting for us just outside the terminal was a taxi driver arranged by our hotel Riad Borj Dhab. He whisked us away towards the city. Much of modern Fez looked like any other place. We could have been in Spain or Italy but after some twenty minutes we reached a very Moroccan landmark in the arches of the Bab Jdid gate.

The large and modern structure welcomed us to the medina, the old city. Some say the oldest inhabited city in the world.

We parked up in a lay-by and continued on foot. We followed our diver down dark narrow alleyways, turning left, then right then left again until we reached the door of Riad Borj Dhab. We were very grateful, we would never have found it without him.

The night watchman welcomed us inside and showed us to our room. We agreed to leave all the formalities until the morning. It was now midnight, and  it felt like it. There wasn't a time difference between Morocco and the UK.

Our room, The Oud Suite, was lovely.

Large and spacious, with high ceilings, draped fabrics, traditionally tiled floors and creaky antique furniture, it had an abundance of charm. We sat up for half an hour to unwind and absorb the room's energy. It felt great to finally have arrived, in Fez.

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