Monday, August 25, 2014

Dr. Plotnick's Moroccan Cat Adventure - Day 9 – Train Trip to Tangier

Day 9 – Train Trip to Tangier  (Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6 Day 7 Day 8-1 Day 8-2)

I’ve always wanted to visit Tangier.  The city is at the meeting point of two continents and two seas, and it defies comparison with any other city in Morocco.  For the first half of the 20th century, Tangier was an international city, with its own laws and its own administration.  It attracted a lot of writers, including Paul Bowles, the American novelist whose “The Sheltering Sky” is arguably considered the best travel novel ever written.  (After visiting the city, I read another book of his, “Let it Come Down”, which is set in Tangier, and which I really loved.)  William S. Burroughs spent much of the 1950s in Tangier, which he referred to as “Interzone” in his books.  He wrote Naked Lunch while living in Tangier.  Tangier was also the world’s first and most famous gay resort, favored by people like Joe Orton and Tennessee Williams. 

The city’s tourism future wasn’t looking too rosy for a while, though. Over the years, the city gained a reputation as a place to avoid, due to lots of sleazy characters who liked to prey on tourists.  The new king, King Mohammed VI, however, is a cool guy, and he promoted a bunch of renovation and building projects, including a new marina and remodeled port that aims to complete with some of the better known holiday ports along the Mediterranean. 

Day tripping Spaniards are a big part of the tourist market, as Tangier is just across the Strait of Gibraltar.  Other first time visitors, however, might be in for a rude awakening, as mobs of faux guides and bona fide hustlers greet the arriving ferries and immediately start figuring out how to separate these tourists from their money.  I had done my reading, though, and I was prepared.

We left Fez early in the morning and caught the 10:30 train to Tangier.  Again, we had a first class ticket, and we had the travel compartment almost entirely to ourselves.  Before we knew it, it was 2:55 p.m. and we had arrived in Tangier.  The train station is located two miles west of town.  We grabbed a cab and were soon at the famous El Minzah Hotel.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

It's Take Your Cat To The Veterinarian Day - August 22nd, 2014!

Friday August 22nd, 2014 is Take Your Cat To The Veterinarian Day!

Might I suggest Manhattan Cat Specialists if you are in New York City.  212-721-2287 for an appointment.

Did you know that approximately 10% of pets presented to veterinary clinics for annual check-ups have some underlying disease or abnormality? Most of these pets appear normal on their physical examination, and therefore any abnormalities go undetected without a wellness health screen. That's why I recommend a physical examination for your feline twice a year for life.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Dr. Plotnick's Moroccan Cat Adventure - Day 8, Part 2 - The Donkeys of Fes Need You!

Dr. Plotnick's Moroccan Cat Adventure - Day 8, Part 2 - The Donkeys of Fes Need You! (Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6 Day 7 Day 8-1)

After visiting the Royal Granaries in Meknes, we decided to skip the medina in Meknes.  It was a tough decision, but we had hired our driver, Naji, just for the day, and we had to decide what to do:  explore the souks and food stalls in the Meknes medina, or visit the American Fondouk, a veterinary hospital just outside the Fes medina.  For me, this was an easy decision.  I’m a veterinarian, and I was struck by the number of stray cats in the cities we visited, and how so many of them are in ill health.  I was also very aware of the number of mules and donkeys in the Marrakech and Fes, and was anxious to learn about their veterinary care as well.   Naji wasn’t sure of their operating hours, but we were willing to risk it.

The drive back to Fes was about 90 minutes.  As we got close, Naji pointed out a white compound with tall green hedges all around it.  “There it is”, he said.  I spotted the American flag alongside the Moroccan flag.

Obscured by the hedges was the sign identifying the building.

As we approached the imposing door, we saw the posted hours.  Open from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon.  I looked at my watch.  4:30.  Sigh.  Naji could see the disappointment in my face.  So he tried something radical.  He knocked on the door.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Signed Copies of The Original Cat Fancy Cat Bible Available at Manhattan Cat Specialists

The Original CatFancy Cat Bible

The Definitive Source for All Things Cat

by Sandy Robins with Arnold Plotnick, MS, DVM, ACVIM, Lorraine Shelton, and Sarah Hartwell 

Pick up a signed copy of The Original Cat Fancy Cat Bible at Manhattan Cat Specialists.

Or you can purchase an unsigned copy on Amazon:

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Dr. Plotnick's Moroccan Cat Adventure - Day 8, Part 1 - Meknes and the Roman ruins of Volubilis

Day 8, Part 1 - Meknes and the Roman ruins of Volubilis (Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6 Day 7)

Fes’s location allows for some neat day trips.  A popular destination from Fes is the city of Meknes and the Roman ruins of Volubilis.  Mark and I have always enjoyed Greek and Roman ruins, and the ruins and Volubilis were said to be impressive.  So much so that the site was a key location for Martin Scorsese’s film The Last Temptation of Christ. 

I made reservations in advance with a tour company, and on the morning of our third day in Fes, we were met at our riad by Naji Redouane, our driver. The van he was driving was equipped to hold six passengers, and I knew that there was a possibility that we’d be touring with a small group, but as luck would have it, Mark and I were his only passengers and we had the van to ourselves. 

The drive to Volubilis was about 90 minutes. Most of the drive was like the drive from Marrakech to Essaouira: brown, dry, and boring, however, as we got closer, a spectacular vista appeared on our right.

Naji, having made the drive countless times, knew it was coming up, and stopped for us to stretch our legs and take in the view.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Dr. Plotnick's Moroccan Cat Adventure - Day 7 - Last Day in Fes

Dr. Plotnick's Moroccan Cat Adventure - Day 7 - Last Day in Fes (Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6)

Today our itinerary was simple.  Just stroll through Fes with no sites in mind and no agenda to speak of.  There’s 9600 streets and alleys.  Plenty to explore.

We made our way to Bab Boujeloud, but this time we veered right, onto the other main artery, Tala’a Sghira, to see what we’d find.  The first stretch consists of another market.  I saw one of my favorite sites again, a butcher stall with cats politely, if impatiently, waiting below.

We arrived at the Attarine medersa.  Attarine medersa translates to “Koranic school of the Spice Sellers”. This medersa is not as awesome as the Bou Inania medersa, but its graceful proportions, elegant geometric carved-cedar ornamentation and excellent state of preservation (it’s from the 14th century) makes it a really great example of Moorish architecture.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Dr. Plotnick's Moroccan Cat Adventure - Day 6 - Full Day in Fes

Morocco Day 6 - Full Day in Fes (Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5)

After last night’s foray into the hectic maze that is Fes, I was ready to tackle it head on.  Take a look at this map

Your best bet is to make your way to the main entry gate to the medina, Bab Boujeloud, which is depicted as an arch in the lower left corner.

Lots of signs pointing to it, so finding it wasn’t too tough.  From there, the road splits into the two main road in the medina, Tala’a Kebira, which meanders north, and Tala’a Sghira, which runs sorta parallel to the south of Tala’a Kebira, before eventually heading north and intersecting with it.  Tala’a Kebira is the road with most of the good stuff. 

We headed to just outside the medina, and started our first full day in Fes. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Dr. Plotnick's Moroccan Cat Adventure - Day 5 - Fes

Day 5 – Goodbye Marrakech, Hello Fes.   (Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4)

Today is a bittersweet day.  We were sorry to say goodbye to fascinating Marrakech, but excited to check out Fes.  We woke up early, took one last look at our beautiful riad from our balcony, and one last look at the lovely balcony outside our door.

We bid Sara and her brother adieu.  Anyone traveling to Marrakech would be guaranteed an excellent time if they stayed at Riad Tamarrakecht.  Sara and her brother really made the trip a pleasure.

Now we’re off to the train station.  Track 3.  Destination: Fes.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Dr. Plotnick's Moroccan Cat Adventure - Day 4 - Essaouira

Morocco Day 4 (Day 1 Day 2 Day 3

Day trip!  Our destination: the beautiful coastal fishing town of Essaouira

Essaouira has an interesting history. Today, it’s a favorite destination for the picturesque fishing harbor, the twisting little alleyways, and the sand, sea and surf.  It used to be a hippie hangout for surfers and expat artists, and though the city now hosts a broader range of visitors, you can still see and hear the hippie/artist vibe in many places in town. 

The three hour bus ride was not very thrilling.  Mile after mile of dirt, dust and weeks, really.  Occasionally we’d spot a shepherd with a few sheep, or a few Muslim women, fully covered in the blazing heat, gathering up crops in little baskets, or maybe a wild donkey grazing on some hay in the distance.  Peaceful? Yes. Boring? Kinda.  And then, while sitting in my seat at the front of the bus, I noticed a cluster of people ahead on the right side of the road.  A break in the monotony.  But I had no idea what they were gathered around.  I had my camera in hand, and as we got closer, I saw what everyone was looking at.  The bus was moving at a decent pace, and I only had one or two seconds to fire off a photo, through the big front window of the bus.  Not much time to compose the photo or check the exposure.  So I set up and aimed away.  Presto!  The coolest shot of the entire trip. 

Yes! Those are goats in the tree! What the heck is the deal with that?!   I’ll tell you.

Inside Edition Stopped by Manhattan Cat Specialists to Talk to Cat Expert Dr. Plotnick!!

When your cat attacks you and holds you hostage, who ya gonna call? ... After you call 911, and a few news outlets, possibly Ghostbusters, then you call Dr. Plotnick.

INSIDE EDITION stopped by Manhattan Cat Specialists and spoke with veterinarian and cat expert Dr. Arnold Plotnick about that crazy cat that attacked its owners and held them hostage, bleeding and terrified, forcing them to call 911.

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