For 300 dirham, five of us hired a grand taxi to take us from Ifrane to Meknes. Though we asked him to drop us off in the old medina, he dropped us off kind of in the middle of nowhere, Meknes. Thankfully I’d downloaded the map beforehand, so we got to stroll the streets as we made out way over.

I was a little bit disappointed that there were few places in Meknes to actually explore. It was home to a few Moroccan kings earlier in the Alaouite dynasty and as such has an imperial palace, but all of it was walled off. We did get to walk by the imperial gold course and the area where the royal stables once were; there, a few locals tried to convince us to take horse and carriage rides.

In the city square, we found a snake charmer, two monkeys, and several peacocks. Perhaps the peacocks were for sale, but I observed in amusement as several local women flung the birds’ tales over their shoulders and had their photos taken.

We ran into another grand taxi while searching for the grand taxi station and began negotiating for a taxi to take us to the Volubilis ruins (which merit their own post!) He initially offered us 300 dirham both ways, but we offered 200. He didn’t like this, so we decided to keep looking for the grand taxi station–legitimately. At us walking away, he offered us 250, which we declined again. We’d almost made it out of sight when he came running up again–200 it was. Of course, our most successful haggling comes when we’re not even trying to barter. Unfortunately, it was a petit taxi that took us, a regular sized taxi instead of a van, but we crammed ourselves successfully in nonetheless.

Later, we realised how lucky we had been to get that taxi then. When he dropped us back in Meknes, we wandered around looking for the grand taxi station, eating a kilo of mandarins I’d bought for 5 dirham, or $0.50. We did find a line for taxis, and I managed to ask the man in front of us in Darija if it was the line for the grand taxis. He said it was, and then asked in English where we were going, only to explain that these were only Meknes taxis. Sigh. After some more wandering, we made it to a bus station with several grand taxis, the drivers of which promptly began arguing over who would take us and how much to charge us. Though one driver typed “4800” into my cellphone, we once more made it to 300 dirham.

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Bassin Sahrij Swani.

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The main square, with Bab Mansour in the background.
The area around Meknes is gorgeous, with green fields everywhere despite it being the middle of winter.