Friday, August 29, 2014

Dr. Plotnick's Moroccan Cat Adventure - Day 10 – Our Last Day in Morocco

Day 10 –  Our Last Day in Morocco (Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6 Day 7 Day 8-1 Day 8-2 Day 9)

Hard to believe, but our last day in Morocco is upon us.  Today’s agenda is to explore as much of Tangier in one day as we can, and then head back home to our own cats, who we miss a lot. 

We started the day at the Gran Café de Paris.  With its tufted brown leather seats impeccable service, and walls covered with fading photos, you feel like you’re back in the ‘50s here.

This is a famous café.  Burroughs wrote here, and parts of The Bourne Ultimatum were filmed here.  The outdoor seats are a popular gathering spot to watch the paseo (the evening stroll that everyone takes) on the boulevard.  We sat outside and had a nice breakfast.

Across the street, just outside the French embassy, two kittens were playing non-stop, and they provided a good half hour of breakfast entertainment.

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.
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