Riad Sara - Fez

Beez Neez
Skipper and First Mate Millard (Big Bear and Pepe)
Wed 22 Oct 2008 10:10
When I was planning the trip to Fez, I asked Bear "How long is it to Fez"  Oh, I guess its a busy route, so about 6 carriages.  See Pepe's face turn puce.   See Bear dodge a fast flying sharp instrument.......
The views as we rattled along on the train. New olive grows.
The typical scenes we have come to expect. The new station is being built very much to the design of Marrakech.
Whilst researching the internet for Riads in Fez, I saw one called Riad Sara, choice made, to wake on Sarah's birthday, the 22nd October. After our tour of Volubilis and Moulay Idriss we were dropped back at the train station in Meknes for the 30 minutes to Fez at 18 Dirham's or just shy of £1.35 each. The train was a little late so time for a breather and an ice-lolly. Once on our way the countryside was similar to that on the journey to Meknes. As we approached the outskirts, rubbish that had been tipped over the wall to the trackside, cramped buildings, then greenery, like many other towns in Morocco we have visited.
The alleyways to get to the Riad. Including the sight of a man pushing a donkey into next door.
The old sayings "Don't judge a book by it's cover" and "Behind closed doors" came to mind. We were dropped by the Petit Taxi in Batha, walked down a couple of dark, skinny streets, walls supported by wooden trusses. The doors opened into a vision of true splendour and beauty. Absolutely like nothing on earth, a real surprise.
Main dining room, Bear outside our bedroom door on the top floor. The lightly covered roof / ceiling.
A Riad ( Arabic: رياض‎ ) is a traditional Moroccan house or palace with an interior garden. The word riad comes from the Arabian term for garden, "ryad". The ancient Roman city of Volubilis provides a reference for the beginnings of riad architecture during the rule of the Idrisid Dynasty. The design of these courtyard dwellings in the coastal regions of Morocco were an adaption and modification of the Roman villa.  The riad became popular to begin with because of the religion of Islam. The riads were inward focused which allowed for family privacy and protection from the weather in Morocco. This inward focus was expressed in the central location of most of the interior gardens and courtyards and the lack of large windows on the exterior clay or mud brick walls. Entrance to these houses is a major transitional experience and encourages reflection because all of the rooms open into the central atrium space. The style of these riads has changed over the years, but the basic form is still used in designs today. Recently there has been a surge in interest in this form of house after a new vogue of renovation in towns such as Marrakech or Essaouira. Many riads are now used as hotels or restaurants and make a peaceful break from the hustle and bustle outside.
Mint Tea on arrival, also a chilled bottle of water. Bear with Beds trying out the four-poster. Our bedroom ceiling, the gold work glinted in the light.
A Riad has to have 5 essential components.
                                                               1. Marble. Brought in originally from Italy in the 14th century. Trade 1 kg of marble/1 kg of sugar, marble exists, sugar gone, wonder why the Italians
                                                                   won't repeat the trade.
                                                               2. Mosaic. Used to be done piece by piece, now done in big panels for ease of fitting and time on site.
                                                               3. Fountain. Must have a water feature. The tranquility it produces, its sound and feeling of cleansing the soul.
                                                               4. Plaster. Originally mixed with egg white to permit deep carving and intricate patterns.
                                                               5. Cedar wood. From the locality. Cleaned once a year with olive oil to maintain its rich colour and slowly darken over the years.
They were always open air above the courtyard, water was prevented from doing any damage by being surrounded by a step. Water did not collect as the central area was slightly sloped and water drained away. Nowadays a light, protective material tends to be used, we have seen plastic and mesh. Riad Sara is a very old building that was renovated to a very high standard 6 years ago.
Our lounge and its ceiling, fountain, bed, ready for bed, curtains closed
We chose to stay in and dine after Bear brought the menu to our room, a wide choice on offer, ordered for 19:30, as it turned out a great choice as it bucketed down. We watched a little news and weather in French and saw thunder and lightening in the Saharan area we had visited, touching the lake and the sand angels really worked.  Pigeon Pie, a little surprising as it had a sugar dusting, washed down with a bottle of red from Casablanca.
Bread basket. Fresh, super-tender Lamb Tagine. I had rose from Meknes, served to our table covered in a locally made and embroidered cloth.
Breakfast the next morning had the freshest of boiled eggs, with NO dark line round the yolk, salt was offered. Honey, jam, soft cheese, fresh orange juice, pancakes, croissants, tea or the coffee we had with hot milk. We thought Beds was waiting quietly on an inflated dog bed. But NO
He tried tea and something mysterious from the tureens. Not contented with one Shi Sha ( hookah in other parts of the world ). Deep drags. OH dear. We guess it could have been a whole lot worse if his cousin Chelsea Bear was with him, but he still has his injured arm to 'get right'. M.R.I. scan results awaited as we speak.
In his mind he can now balance on pot, fly a carpet but in reality NO. Very quiet for the rest of the day, his excuse "to hide from the rain".
At ten o'clock as arranged Hakim, our guide arrived to lead us through the maze called Fez.
All in all a fantastic place to stay. A true Riad experience, the interior exquisite, the staff very friendly and very helpful.