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Medina of Fes: Guide or No Guide?

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Alexandria, Virginia
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Medina of Fes: Guide or No Guide?

I would like to hear from other travellers who had a pleasant experience wandering through the Fes Medina without a guide and without getting scammed.

While I would love to wander and get "lost" in the Fes Medina for a few hours on my own, I'm afraid that experience is going to be ruined by persons offering guiding services who won't take "no" for an answer and who will keep following. Just thinking about this stresses me out. It seems the only way to avoid this is to hire an official guide through my riad, as "protection" against these persistent would-be guides. Am I correct in this assumption?

1. Re: Medina of Fes: Guide or No Guide?

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Removed on: 6:16 am, October 01, 2012
Castril De La Pena...
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for Morocco
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2. Re: Medina of Fes: Guide or No Guide?

Absolutely no need for a guide though a guidebook would be useful!

Fez Bab to Bab is excellent.

Also Fez Encounters: www.amazon.co.uk/product-reviews/1741792584

Map of medina: http://www.fez-riads.com/Fez.htm

View from Fez: http://riadzany.blogspot.co.uk/

Use the search facility (fez guides) for previous threads on this subject.

Edited: 6:48 am, July 30, 2012
Richmond, VA
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3. Re: Medina of Fes: Guide or No Guide?

I've never used a guide and never had problems. If they offer to show me something I tell them I have seen it already (which most likely I have) or that I'm going to meet a friend and no thanks. Fes al Bali is in a bowl so if you go down, you have to go up to get out. And even if you don't come out where you want, you can walk around the outside walls (if it's not scorching hot) to where you want to be or just get a taxi.

East Gwillimbury...
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4. Re: Medina of Fes: Guide or No Guide?

If you'll only be in town for a few days and want to see the main sights, I'd suggest that it *is* a good idea to hire an OFFICIAL GUIDE for the medina (Fes el-Bali). Your hotel/riad will easily arrange this for you. Many of the main sights in Fes can't really be distinguished from the outside, so one could walk right by and not even notice unless they know what they are looking for.

While I wouldn't recommend a guide for the Marrakech medina, I *would* recommend one for a 1st day in Fes. Opinions vary on this point, of course...

Canada
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5. Re: Medina of Fes: Guide or No Guide?

I have explored Fez's medina with pre-booked guides twice and both times enjoyed the experience and saw and heard different information. I would not find reading a guide book and following a map while in the medina very practical. Several times we had to press against a wall to allow an overloaded pack animal through--having a tall person ahead was definitely a plus. The pace in the Fez medina is relatively brisk, but I stopped and looked at many points of interest--some shady character "would-be" guide would not have known if I was with someone or not--and I was never approached by anyone.

Actually only once have I been approached by someone and offered to be taken into a souk--and that was in Ouarzazate.

If you do hire a guide, simply tell a guide what you are interested in--being roped into some shop and being forced to buy is something that I have not experienced. This month, I told our guide that we were interested in buying leather pouffes and the leather shop is the only one we entered. The rest of the time we explored and dined in a lovely restaurant.

I think the image of a Moroccan guide as some kind of scamming seedy character has to be put to rest. Guides are generally well-educated, multi-lingual individuals who are very knowledgeable on the country, history and culture. Sure it is fun exploring on one's own sometimes, but having a native Moroccan explain, negotiate and elaborate on the sights and sounds is magical.

NZ
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6. Re: Medina of Fes: Guide or No Guide?

Another one (and I have just replied to someone on the Marrakesh forum who had a bad experience) suggesting that at least for the first visit use a licenced guide to allow you to find out how the system works, what to look out for and what to avoid and to get a feel for the place. There is no doubt that for many the medinas are challenging and having someone with you to semi protect you and break the ice makes the experience far pleasanter. Then go out on your own if that is what you wish.

Thoroughly agree with Maggie that it is time that the image of a moroccan licenced guide as opposed to a faux guide who is an opportunist needs to be put to rest. The licenced people are professionals and should be treated as such.

idaho
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for Sun Valley, Ketchum, Beach Vacations, Idaho
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7. Re: Medina of Fes: Guide or No Guide?

all i can speak about was the great time we had with a guide..he helped us figure out how to navigate the medina, gave us a history lesson, and made us feel very welcome in morocco.

Stockholm, Sweden
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8. Re: Medina of Fes: Guide or No Guide?

If I was in Fes I would have guidebook and map and go only. And try to explore it self. It is not so big city and in guidebook is good with information.

But maybe, if you are not sure to have or not have a guide, may be you would take one so you are sure you not miss something and go lost.

Alexandria, Virginia
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9. Re: Medina of Fes: Guide or No Guide?

Thanks, all, for your input!

Farnham, England...
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10. Re: Medina of Fes: Guide or No Guide?

The most rewarding experience of the medina is exploring independently.

Our official guide took us to shops in the hope of us buying at the inflated prices that would cover his commission. Exhausting and not what we wanted.

From Bab Boujloud (The Blue Gate) there are two main streets (Tala' Shgira and Tala'a Kbira), not quite parallel but dropping downhill towards Qarawiyine. Stick to these at first and go back up-hill the way you came which is great for orientation. After a while you may feel brave enough to go down one and back up the other. Take it from there.

There's a great little street map (10 Dh) on sale at Cafe Clock at the top end of Tala'a Kbira. It's a very tourist friendly Cafe to start off with too.