A Child's Survival Guide to Fès

11 year old Leo Thomson shares tips on surviving a trip to Fès, from how to avoid being patted on the head to where you can eat a camel burger!

A Child's Survival Guide to Fès: Boy on camel by Intrepid

When your parents say to you "son, we're going to Fès," your first reaction might be: "Where's Fès?" The next is: “Will they have pizza?"

In reality Fès is one of the most brilliant cities I've ever been to. Wandering around the Medina you see groups of street children, vibrant coloured washing hanging over into the streets and best of all the amazing market. In the markets nothing is a fixed-price and there's always some clever deal or haggling going on.

Me and my brother and sister decided to test our haggling skills to the limit by playing a Moroccan version of "The Apprentice" and see who could buy the same standard items – a coloured glass, a slipper keyring, and a pencil case – for the least money. Sadly I lost by quite a bit!

At least I was helped in my bargaining by having done the Cafe Clock Download course. This is a short session (about 1 1/2 hours, cost 150 dirhams) that Cafe Clock run to teach you some simple Arabic phrases and a bit about the culture and what hand signals mean. My favourite was ‘smehily’ meaning "sorry", which you pronounce "smelly" and I used a lot bumping into people.

Cafe Clock is a great place to be, in the heart of the Medina, and does great milkshakes and burgers – and when I say burger I don't mean beef, pork or even lamb – but camelburger! (Which is actually delicious.)

And about the pizza - no, you won't find much in the Medina, but they do have Malawi bread, like a thin wide sugary crêpe which is good for breakfast with soft cheese. 

Dos

Have a chocolate and banana milkshake at Cafe Clock.

Go for a swim in one of the hotels.

Learn a few phrases of Arabic.

Don'ts

Go into a carpet shop if you haven't got at least half an hour and don't mind being patted on the head by the owner.

Run away screaming if your parents even mention it

Roman ruins at Volubilis. Because...

1) they are ruins

2) they are Roman

3) you have to drive three hours to get there and back.  And no, they're not educational.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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