John Edward Cooper’s Notes

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Friday 21 March 2014

[Thursday 20 March 2014]

Barceló Fès Medina

Day 80 Numbers 29; John 11
[i]After breakfast we leave for our visit to the Roman remains of the town of Volubilis. Please be prepared with good walking shoes as the site is very uneven underfoot. We continue on to Meknes to see the remains of the 16th century Imperial city, and return to the hotel after time for lunch.
[i] This was originally scheduled for Thursday.

Janet got up ca.6.30am, and I did the same after she’d finished in the bathroom. We went down for breakfast, then back up to the room for what we’d need, and boarded the coach in time for its 8.30am set-off. We had a stop after about an hour to stretch our legs, at a place overlooking a reservoir,—

09:21:56 Photo stop: reservoir shown on maps as “Barrage Sidi Chahed” (“barrage” in this context is French for “dam”)

09:22:28 Photo stop: reservoir Barrage Sidi Chahed

09:22:56 Photo stop: laying a net on Barrage Sidi Chahed

09:22:56 — detail

09:24:24 Photo stop: reservoir Barrage Sidi Chahed

09:24:56 Photo stop: view west from Barrage Sidi Chahed

09:25:42 Photo stop: view north across Barrage Sidi Chahed

09:26:30 Photo stop: Butternut sellers at Barrage Sidi Chahed

—and about an hour after that we arrived at the partially excavated remains of the Roman city of Volubilis. We had a guide, who pointed out the most interesting features. (He’s pictured at 11:36:36, below, and can be recognised because in common with many of the locals he wore a fairly substantial jacket on what we considered to be a moderately hot day.)

Plan of Volubilis from Wikipedia

10:46:16 Volubilis

10:47:00 Volubilis

10:49:00 Volubilis

10:50:04 House of Orpheus

10:52:48 Baths of Gallienus

10:54:36 Concrete in evidence, which after our visit to the concrete-domed Pantheon in Rome I took to be original

10:56:12 Reconstructed olive press, Volubilis

10:57:06 Reconstructed olive press, Volubilis

11:00:38 Volubilis

11:04:24 Capitoline Temple dedicated to Jupiter, Juno and Minerva

11:05:36 Basilica seen from the Temple steps

11:07:24 Basilica seen from the Forum

11:07:32 Basilica seen from the Forum

11:12:00 Mosaic of an acrobat seated back-to-front on a donkey

11:12:00 — straightened-up detail

11:14:42 Fishing-themed mosaic

11:14:42 — straightened-up detail

11:17:26 Watering and washing place

11:18:26 Triumphal Arch of Caracalla

He got volunteers, a man and a woman, to seat themselves astride a cloth-covered stone at either end, and when the cloth was whisked away — voilà! what you see below. One doesn’t have to guess at which end he sat the man, and at which the woman.

11:22:02 Phallic symbol

11:24:22 Triumphal Arch of Caracalla

11:27:48 Gateway

11:31:26 House of the Columns

11:33:56 Mosaic in the House of the Ephebe, of Bacchus encountering the sleeping Ariadne

11:34:42 Mosaic in the House of the Ephebe, of Bacchus encountering the sleeping Ariadne

11:33:56 — rotated and straightened-up detail

11:35:18 Volubilis

11:36:36 North Baths

11:36:36 — detail 1

11:36:36 — detail 2

11:36:36 — detail 3


11:40:00 Eponymous mosaic in the House of the Labours of Hercules

11:40:08 Eponymous mosaic in the House of the Labours of Hercules

11:40:18 Eponymous mosaic in the House of the Labours of Hercules

11:46:02 Mosaic of the Four Seasons in the House of the Labours of Hercules

11:46:02 — straightened-up detail

11:48:34 Asphodel


11:53:22 — straightened-up detail

11:53:54 Mosaic in the House of Venus, of Diana and her nymph surprised by Actaeon while bathing

11:53:54 — straightened-up detail

11:55:14 Skylark atop a Corinthian capital

11:55:14 — detail

We re-boarded the coach ca. midday, and went on to Meknes. When we passed the hill-town of Moulay Idriss — where founder of Morocco Moulay Idriss I arrived in 789, bringing with him the religion of Islam — I was a bit naughty and called the place “Moulay Iblis”.

12:22:26 Moulay Idriss

We stopped for lunch at a restaurant on the outskirts of Meknes. Janet has a better “food memory” than I do. “I had two Diet Coke,” she wrote, “and [John] had beef tagine and a beer. A cheap do. A pleasant restaurant.”

14:01:38 View to the right from the coach of the restaurant where we had lunch

14:01:54 View to the left from the coach. All of the mosques that we saw in Morocco had relatively chunky single minarets, square in section — so not at all like the domed structures with multiple slender round-section minarets that we’d come to expect.

We picked up our guide (pictured, 14:50:42, below), and had a couple of photo-stops — one across a wide valley from the medina walls, and one outside an imposing city gate — before proceeding to the Royal Granaries of Moulay Ismail. Proceeding through many, massively thick-walled chambers of the granaries, we found ourselves before the hundreds of arches of the stable, arranged so that they lined up straight ahead and diagonally. Then back through the granaries… before rejoining the coach. There was another photo-stop at a gate and square in the city, where presumably the guide left us, before the ca.1½-hour drive back to Fez.

14:09:18 The medina of Meknes

14:09:58 The medina of Meknes

14:17:36 View from the coach: Bab Bardaayene

14:23:42 Photo-stop: Bab el Khemis city gate

14:23:42 — detail

14:30:06 Seen from the coach when approaching the Royal Granaries

14:37:26 Royal Granaries, Meknes

14:49:16 Royal Granaries, Meknes

14:50:42 Royal Granaries, Meknes

14:54:04 Royal Granaries, Meknes

14:54:54 Royal Granaries, Meknes

14:56:30 Royal Stables, Meknes

14:57:22 Royal Stables, Meknes

14:57:46 Royal Stables, Meknes

14:59:20 Royal Stables, Meknes

15:27:10 Bab Mansour, Meknes

15:28:08 Bab Mansour, Meknes

15:29:50 View in the opposite direction to 15:28:08: Sahat Lahdim

16:13:52 Almond bushes in blossom, seen from the coach en route

Janet wrote: “I was absolutely fine today… and I wasn’t travel sick. [John’s] feet were getting quite sore, but he did really well today. The terrain around Volubilis was pretty rough.” We’d exchanged half our euros for dirhams at the airport, but were running low and needed to change the remaining ca.€100; so Janet had asked Christine if she would accompany her to the bureau de change. This visit was announced on the coach in case anyone else wanted to avail themselves of it, but Janet was the only one. Having Christine with her proved useful because she asked the clerk in French for lower-denomination notes than the ones he was supplying. Meanwhile, I copied today’s photos from the camera to the WD Elements HDD (17:00–17:02). Edited them with Photoshop, creating two or more versions of some, e.g. the mosaic floors (17:07–19:20; 20:46–22:21). Janet wrote: “We ‘pottered’. [John] tweaked photos, and I organised our bags [to facilitate packing tomorrow], etc., and updated this. Ca.7.30pm, we went for dinner in the hotel restaurant. [We] joined another couple and we had a good ‘gas’. We returned to our room and [John] continued tweaking photos.” Janet went to bed ca.9.30pm, having set the alarm clock for 4.45am tomorrow; the set-off time for the journey from Fez to Marrakesh was going to be 7am.

[Saturday 22 March 2014]

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