In September, 2018, I went to Morocco for a three week trip. I walked the ancient Médinas, ate copious amounts of couscous, swam in the ocean, went to a hamam (traditional Islamic bathhouse), hiked with the monkeys, and drank many Moroccan mint teas.
Of the 7 cities I visited on this trip, Fès was a highlight. Fès has the oldest walkable médina in the world (!) Walking through the twists and turns gives you the feeling that you could walk forever and not find your way out – an enchanting feeling that does not easily arise in the grid-like cities I am used to. The pace of life in the médina is both fast and chaotic. Motorcycles, donkeys, wagons, locals and tourists move through the cobblestone streets with a frantic energy. There are goats, chickens, spices, leather shops, street food vendors. You’ll breathe in more aromas in ten steps here than in an entire city block of Montreal! If there is chaos at the ground level, the rooftops are an oasis! Up on the roof, looking out over the city gives a sense of stillness and calm. I watched a few stunning sunsets from the roof of Médina Social Club.
In the heart of the Fès médina is the exquisite but unassuming Medina Social Club: a rare hybrid of hotel and hostel. For about €10, you can stay in one of the well-kept dorm rooms. Of, if you prefer more of a hotel experience, (€20 each), you can get a private shared double room. When I first walked through the entrance, I was impressed by the precise attention to detail in the design. The floors are covered in small tile and the clay walls lead to an open sky. There’s a sculpture water fountain in the centre of the terrace surrounded by trees and plans.
Video by Médina Social Club © 2018. Stock audio: unknown source.
As the name suggests, there are great social vibes at Médina Social Club. You’ll find couches and comfy chairs tucked into nooks for reading and chilling and a huge rooftop terrace with a great view of the city. These social vibes are curated in part by the venue’s cultural coordinator, Makki Bensdira. Makki programs concerts, and other cultural events and these events are the cultural heart beat of MSC.
When I played at Medina Social Club, it was alongside German singer Anna Stockbauer and Moroccan guitarist Ilyas Nova. We played a concert of jazz manouche and bossa nova repertoire. Some photos from the concert:
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