Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Paris, with luggage this time

The final stop on our trip was the return to Paris for a couple of nights before the long journey back to NZ.  We flew from Fes to Paris, or rather into Beauvais, a mere 77km out of Paris.  The lines at immigration were by far the worst queuing experience we have had in years.  Two airplanes arrived at the same time and the resulting overcrowding in the small hall was exacerbated by people thinking they were entitled to move into any gap in the line.  No orderly, one-by-one polite protocol.  No, it was each man for himself.  Certainly the Moroccans on our flight were guilty of pushing and cutting in, but the worst offenders were the pair of french ladies in their 30’s with 3 small children.  They blatantly pushed a child's pushchair under the barrier ropes, then followed the pushchair, so that they jumped significant portions of the line.  Hideous experience!

But it was lovely to be back in Paris.  The start of our trip had been marred by the loss of the suitcases, so it was  much nicer being in the city with all our possessions.  Our time in Paris in September was a re-run of what we tried to do in August, but with the comfort of changes of clothing, with venues being open and with none of the long queues we had seen in August.

We strolled into the Petit Palais art gallery without a wait.  Andrew did manage to "mis-hear" the security guard checking if he had “keys” in his pockets before we went through the metal scanner.  Andrew simply said “New Zealand” and the guard looked a little bemused.  I’m not sure what Andrew thought the question was, to give that answer.

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We went back to La Grande Epicerie which had been closed on the one day we visited in August.   Having had our fill of looking at gourmet food and wine we did as (some) of the locals do and had a long lunch, sitting outside a random neighbourhood bistro, watching the world go by.

And that evening we got to visit again our old favourite restaurant Les Papilles, which had been closed for summer holidays in August.  I think Andrew has told every single person we know who goes to Paris to visit there.  And it did not disappoint.  Delicious from start to finish.

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We’ll probably be back next time we are in Paris.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Fes

Fes was our last stop in Morocco. Most people we had spoken to said we should get a guide given the maze that is the Medina.   9,000 streets – a significant number of which are also dead-ends and 150,000 people it is certainly complex.  Because we had a limited amount of time we got our accommodation host to arrange a guide.  In many ways we are really are NOT guide sort of people.  The guide was fine, and we learnt lots of things from her, but we also just wandered the Medina like sheep following the leader.  On the whole I don’t think we got a real feel for the Medina and would have been better just wandering and getting lost. 

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The tannery area where the vats of dyes are managed by hand had been on Andrew’s must see list.  The area was not as smelly as we had anticipated.

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But the hard-sell in the leather shop afterwards was very strong.  Nice pieces and lovely colours, but we didn't succumb – nor in any of the 4 other shops our guide took us to!

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Two lovely little snippets of life we did see were the communal ovens where housewives would bring their bread or tagines to be baked.  When I looked at the photo below I realised the baker was resting on the stairs – I had not seen him when snapping the picture.   And the other was watching the spinning of thread in the streets.  Long lengths of thread were wrapped around a hook on a wall and the spinner would stand twenty metres away with his winding machine.  Below are also some of the remnants of the process.  Our guide told us that in Morocco sewing is a job predominantly done by men.

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Looking over the rooftops there are no shortage of satellite dishes.

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We liked Fes, but didn’t really get it’s true vibe.  When we go back next time we will just wander and see what the city wants to show us.