2016-09-25 Palais Faraj Hotel, Fez to Hotel Dar Rhizlane Marrakesh via Meknes, Voulibus & Casablanca, Morocco

Today we have organised a driver to take us to Meknes , Volubilus and then on to Casablanca where we have a flight booked in the evening taking us to Marrakesh
On our way through the city we pass the Puerta de Palacio
Departing the fabulous city of Fez with it’s wonderful history, sites and culture we vowed to return in the future
We begin our journey and head west on highway N4
Once we departed the bustling city of Fez we found ourselves traveling through open fields framed by spectacular mountains
We pass many people going about their daily tasks
On the side of the road, approximately 70 km from Fez, we stop to stretch our legs at an open air market 
Many local crafts were on display for sale
Ric immediately makes friends with the son of the vendor
Nuts, dried peas and beans, gourds, onions, melons, dried fruits, oranges and pomegranates were also on offer for sale here too!!
Barage Sidi Chahed, an inland lake can be seen from the market area by the road above the valley
No wonder a permanent market is set up here by the road, as the scenery alone is well worth stopping for!!
We continue west on our journey enjoying the spectacular scenery
The scenery is certainly quite outstanding!!
The donkeys have a hard life here in this country!!
We spot a well laden cart of fresh bread as we pass through the small town of Nzala Beni Ammar
One must be careful of the local herds that feed beside the main roads
Our first glimpse of the ancient town of Volubilis which is north of the town of Meknes
The entrance to the Volubilis site
Volubilis was settled in the 3rd Century BC and prospered until 40AD
An English speaking local tour guide was organised to take us around the site
We head towards the remains of the ancient Basilica
The ancient ruins of the Basilica are one of the only buildings that are still quite impressive at the site
The  Basilica stands high on a hill overlooking the farmlands below
Ric and our very informative and jovial tour guide
Overlooking plantations of cereals and olives the Triumphal Arch is the only other structure on the Volubilis site that still is in reasonable condition
The site contains many well preserved ancient mosaic floors
There are plenty of ancient relics to be found around the site too!!
We head uphill along the street that links the Triumphal Arch to the Tangier Gate, passing the remains of the House of Dionysus and the Four Seasons
Looking back towards the Triumphal Arch
Another fabulous mosaic floor at the Volubilis site
Volubilis was thriving in 2nd and 3rd Centuries AD when most of the buildings in the city centre were built


Our tour guide was certainly one of the best guides we have ever had!!!
Once back in the car, we leave the site and head for the small hilltop village of Moulay Idriss where we intend to stop for a quick lunch
Moulay Idriss Zarhoun is not far from the ancient site of Volubilis
The owner and staff were very friendly at the little restaurant we arrived at in the small village
Our driver told us he enjoyed the food at this little restaurant
The food looked very good and the restaurant was also very clean
Spicy kebabs on the grill looked delicious
Ric and I share a plate of the delicious spicy kebabs and tomato
We continue on our journey and hopefully in the future we may have time to see more of this delightful little village including the Tomb of Idriss 1 !!
Looking back to Moulay Idriss
Nearby is the city of Meknes which together with Volubilis has been situated in the heart of the major agricultural area of Morocco since ancient times
We approach Meknes which was founded in the 10th Century
Meknes has grown over the years and now has a population of around one million people
As we enter the city we pass the Bab El-Khemis Gate built in 1673

We visit the Bab Mansour Gate, with its building finished in 1732
Opposite the Bab Mansour Gate is a large square that has a permanent covered food market which also sells pottery, flowers, gifts etc
On our tour around the city we pass the Prison de Kara which is an underground prison, no longer in use today
We continue along the Palace wall towards the lake
Sahrij Swani is an artificial lake which acts as an enormous reservoir that was built by Moulay Ismail to provide water for the Imperial City
Looking towards the Royal Stables by the lake
Inside the elegant Royal Stables
We leave Meknes and our journey to Casablanca continues
We finally arrive in Casablanca and fortunately have time to visit the Hassan 11 Mosque before our dash to the airport
The Hassan 11 Mosque is the 2nd largest religious building in the world behind the huge mosque in Mecca
The complex here covers 90,000 sq metres with two-thirds built over the sea
Ric & Helve at the Hassan 11 Mosque in Casablanca
The Minaret, the lighthouse of Islam, towering above the massive mosque is 25m wide and 200m high and has two laser beams reaching over a distance of 30km that shine in the direction of Mecca

Thousands gather in the early evening at the sea’s edge beside and on the rocks next to the Hassan 11 Mosque
Time for us to make our way to the airport to catch our flight to Marrakesh
After a short flight from Casablanca we arrive at the modern Marrakesh Airport
Our arrival is quite late at our hotel in Marrakesh 

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