Casablanca





Before leaving, and again once in Morocco, we tried to organize a guided tour but never got a response from any of the tour companies. So Sunday we decided just to take our chances and venture into Casablanca ourselves.

I really enjoyed the cab ride on the back road into the city because it was a chance to see more of the countryside. We saw a little of everything. There were expanses of dry grasslands stretching off into the distance, some with cows, goats, and sheep. There were little shanty towns. There were dirt areas with kids playing soccer. Everywhere, there were people walking. We also went through several small beach towns with restaurants and beach clubs. I was really surprised by the amount of bushiness and industry on the outskirts of Casablanca (referred to from now on as Casa, as the locals call it). There were all kinds of factories, big stores, and car dealerships. It was a lot more like the US than Ghana.

There was apparently a big soccer game that day, as the roads were filled with cars filled with fans in red and white jerseys. The fans were hanging out of the cars while waving flags and shouting. There was a cacophony of horns. (Drivers in general are very liberal with their horns).

Our first stop was the Hassan II mosque, the third largest in the world. It takes your breath away at first sight. There is this massive, white marble, tower stretching into the sky and the most beautiful teal mosciac. The whole plaza is this oasis of light as the white marble reflects the sun. 






We just couldn't get over the level of detail.


even the ceilings are beautiful

There are elaborate mosaics and carvings everywhere.





It is the same inside. We walked through just in awe. It was built in just 6 years in the late 1980's and early 1990's.
inside the main cathedral. speakers are hidden in each pillar


It was interesting to see how they integrated so much technology. The whole roof slides open for ventilation, there are loud speakers hidden within the pillars, and the chandeliers lower with the flip of a switch so they can be cleaned. 


the chandelier lowers to be cleaned



the men's bathing room in the basement because Muslim's must clean before a service


A very nice girl in our tour group gave us a map, without which we would have been totally lost as there are no tourist information booths or maps anywhere in the city. Using our very small, and not very detailed, map, we eventually found our way to the medina, the public market.


There was quite a contrast between the opulence of the mosque and the neighborhoods we walked through 

The medina was a wonderful, crowded, smelly labyrinth. The aisles were so narrow and crowded, and yet motorbikes came flying through them as if they were speeding down a highway.


not the medina, but it gives you an idea how narrow the streets are

Both overwhelmed, and excited, we wandered and wandered, seeing everything from underwear, to whole sides of cattle, to stoves, to strawberries. It makes American malls and grocery stores feel so sterile! We sniffed spices, tried on a million scarves, drooled over the fresh produce, and eventually found out a way out.




We emerged in the United Nations plaza, which was a great spot for a late lunch. We sat down at a cafe that was clearly aimed at tourists because they had Moroccan food! That was the funny thing about Morocco- it was so hard to find authentic food. We learned this is because Moroccans cook traditional dishes at home and when they go out they want to eat foreign food, especially pizza. But at this cafe we were able to get a chicken tagine with a citrus sauce and cous cous with grilled vegetables and beef. However, my tagine came covered in french fries!


almost authentic tagine


It was so good. When we realized later that they had way over charged us, we only minded a little because it had been so good!

We walked around for a bit longer, seeing the palace and a couple parks, but we were pretty tired of walking and we were ready to go back to the hotel! 


mosaics everywhere! Prettiest post office I've ever seen
Our final adventure is Casa was finding a cab willing to take us back to Mohammedia that didn't cost a fortune. We did some bargaining and found a willing driver, but once we got near town we realized he had no idea where our hotel was. So after stopping to ask many people, he finally delivered us back to our hotel. A great day of adventures.





Comments

  1. Sounds wonderful, but also sounds like you need to make sure you don't get taken advantage of!

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    1. That was one of the things I didn't like so much Wendy. It was hard to tell what a fair price was and you couldn't trust people to be honest

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  2. It's so interesting they built that mosque just a few decades ago, but to look like it was hundreds of years old. Super neat how they incorporated the technology!

    Did you get some scarves?

    Ha! Never would have though that about the cuisine! Happy you got to try some! Were the prices not on the menu? LOL, I know I mentioned MX in my other comment too, and it's totally different, but we got over-charged for our first meal and didn't realize it until a few days later. But eh, it was good!

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    1. I used restraint and only bought 2 scarves. (despite telling myself before the trip that I couldn't buy any because I already have a million.)

      They put the prices on the menu, but they don't bring you an itemized bill. They either told us a number or gave us a paper with just a number. So we just gave the waiter the amount he said, but later as I added up everything we got, I realized he charged us almost double! I like to think he just added wrong, but I think sadly it was probably a scam

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