Cast no shadow in Casablanca

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Africa » Morocco » Grand Casablanca » Casablanca
April 2nd 2019
Published: May 28th 2019
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The moon and the stars are not above us, the earth is on the other side of our feet… ~ Moroccan Proverb

Today we were continuing to explore the white city of Casablanca.

I woke early and used the quiet morning stillness to catch up on my travel writing. We headed down to breakfast at 8am and feasted on khobz (traditional round leavened bread) with cheese and harissa (chilli and garlic sauce); croissants, pastries and dates – which we enjoyed with numerous cups of tea and lime juice.

We dropped our washing at a tiny hole-in-the-wall laundrette just along from our hotel, and with an air of naive optimism, we hoped we’d conveyed to the owner that we only wanted our clothes washed and not ironed. We didn’t share a language, and every time we simulated a clothes washing action with our hands, he simulated an ironing motion with his. We hoped for the best. Maybe our clothes would arrive back washed AND ironed.

We made our way towards central Casablanca to walk amongst the city’s Mauresque architecture. We started at the perfectly white Cathedral du Sacre Coeur, then made our way through an urban park to Mohammed V Plaza. We noticed a few tourists wandering around, and it was the first time we’d seen a tourist all morning. The plaza was thriving with families and their children, and it was an incredible atmosphere. We continued walking the streets of central Casablanca and marvelling at the ubiquitous art deco and art nouveau architecture rising into the sky around us – a mix of French colonial and traditional Moroccan building styles.

At one stage, when we were momentarily lost, a very kind woman asked if she could help. When we told her we were looking for a small plaza (Place du 16 Novembre), she offered to walk us there. She told us she was a French teacher, and that her English was not very good. Her English was in fact extremely good, and we were grateful for her help. After admiring the decaying art deco buildings surrounding the plaza, we made our way to the Central Market (Marche Central).

We eventually emerged from the market and crossed the road to Petit Poucet, a cafe-bar once frequented by Albert Camus. We sat outside and sipped mint tea as people went about their daily lives in front of us. I imagined Camus sitting here in bygone times, smoking Gitanes cigarettes and sipping coffee as he watched the world drift by…

We were getting hungry, so we decided to walk to La Taverne du Dauphin on the outer wall of the old medina (the old town). We’d walked past this traditional restaurant the day before, so we were very happy to return and try it out. We both opted for the set menu – three courses and a pot of mint tea! We had no intention of eating dinner, so this meal was our last meal for the day – luckily! I opted for the salad nicoise, ‘mixed fried fishes’ and Moroccan pastries, while Ren ordered the avocado and shrimp cocktail, umbrina fillet and fresh fruit salad with lemon sorbet. The food was old world (think 1970s), but it was very tasty and bounteous. The mint tea was exceptional, and we both realised this would become a staple drink over the next month. We could also order alcohol in La Taverne du Dauphin, which was a massive bonus, as it had been particularly difficult to purchase alcohol in Casablanca. I ordered a large beer, while Ren enjoyed a vodka and apple juice.

We decided to explore the old medina again, but this time we wanted to explore far deeper into the heart of the old city. It wasn’t long before we started recognising places we’d seen the day before, so we continued our journey until we discovered a shopping precinct for the locals living within the old walls. It was a fascinating place to explore, and I tried to imagine living in the maze-like streets and cramped houses. The local kids had adapted to life inside the walls of the medina – games of soccer were being played out on the streets, where smaller children watched older kids play, dreaming all along that one day they would be kicking goals in the narrow streets…

We eventually emerged from the medina at its northern most point, close to Casablanca’s bustling sea port. We made our way around the elevated concrete foreshore walkway, which offered a fantastic new vista of the Hassan II Mosque that we hadn’t yet experienced. People were swimming in the polluted water around the mosque, and given the brisk wind off the sea, I could only assume the water would have been cold.

We arrived back at our studio apartment at 4pm, having been on our feet since 9:30am. I picked up some pastries from our favourite little bakery close to the hotel, then settled into the late afternoon and evening with endless cups of tea to work on our travel writing.

On our first morning in Casablanca we didn’t hear the call to prayer, mostly due to our complete exhaustion and deep sleep. However, we’d heard it every morning since, and this morning was no exception. At around 5:45am, the first call to prayer would drift from the minaret of the Hassan II Mosque, and I was mesmerised by its delivery. I didn’t find it invasive. Quite the contrary, I enjoyed the way it infiltrated my sleep and made me aware of the fact that Casablanca was coming to life.

We headed over to the mosque just before sunrise with the bold ambition of capturing the minaret as the rising sun highlighted its green ceramic tiling. Unfortunately, cloud covered the entirety of the sky, so the rising sun had no visible impact on the mosque. It mattered little, as we were still able to capture the mosque in Casablanca’s morning hue, with sea mist shrouding the structure as locals fossicked in the surrounding rock pools for whatever shellfish they could find.

We headed back to the hotel for breakfast, where I feasted on khobz and baguettes with cheese and harissa sauce; boiled eggs; croissants, pastries, cakes and dates – which we enjoyed with numerous cups of tea and cold beetroot juice. We were transferring to another hotel in central Casablanca, so we packed our bags, checked out and jumped into a taxi.

As we pulled out from the curb, I suddenly realised we’d forgotten to pick up the laundry. Luckily we were close to the laundrette at the time, so the driver (who didn’t speak English) drove around the block and pulled into the side of the road right outside the tiny hole-in-the wall laundrette. I jumped out, grabbed our laundry and jumped back in. The old driver was exceptionally grumpy, but he knew where we wanted to go, and that’s all that mattered. On the way he stopped and picked up another passenger – luckily we had been warned this may happen when you catch a petit red taxi in Casablanca.

We’d asked him how much the trip would cost when we first got in, but he angrily pointed at the fare meter, so we had to go with that. It was clicking over at a rate of knots, and we couldn’t help but think the worst – this was going to cost an arm and a leg. How wrong we were! He eventually pulled up outside Hotel Amouday and asked for $13 dirham plus an additional $2 dirham for our packs – a total of $15 dirham (the equivalent of two Australian dollars). It was an incredibly cheap fare, especially considering he’d doubled back for our laundry. However, we were struggling to understand him, because he was yelling at us in Arabic. Luckily the new passenger could speak English. She politely asked him to stop yelling, explained the cost to us and let us know he thought we were querying the fare. We weren’t querying anything – we just couldn’t understand him with all the yelling! I don’t know what we would have done if she hadn’t been there.

We checked into Hotel Amouday, dropped our packs in our tiny room and headed out in search of Quartier Habous – Casablanca’s ‘new medina’. We walked the busy streets, asking directions from a few locals along the way. After about an hour we arrived in the upmarket medina, which was a little disappointing when compared to the old medina. This was a very tourist-orientated place, which meant endless stalls selling trinkets with no raison d’etre. However, we were not interested in trinkets – we were interested in gazelle horns and almond macaroons from the famous Patisserie Bennis Habous, and with the help of a friendly stall owner, we found the tiny patisserie down a narrow lane. Having selected our pastries, we walked to Cafe Imperial (overlooking the main square) and settled at a tiny table. We ordered mint tea – the perfect accompaniment – and relaxed into the afternoon.

Feeling suitably refreshed, we were ready to head back to the hotel. We thought it may be a good idea to use the cafe toilets before we left, only to find there were no separate toilets for women. We only discovered this when we walked through the toilet door to be confronted with a guy using the urinal. Ren beat a hasty retreat, and the cafe staff went into damage control – they were so embarrassed. Apparently, when a woman needs to use their toilet, the staff go in and banish all men. An old guy came out, apologising profusely, and when the all clear was given, Ren had the place to herself…

We skirted the outer walls of the Royal Palace on the way back to the hotel, and we also walked past some amazing art deco houses along the way. This was a very affluent part of Casablanca, and it was a very liveable area. We saw a number of houses that we could easily have settled into.

Having retraced our steps back to Hotel Amouday, we refreshed ourselves with complimentary mint tea from the foyer, then settled in our room to catch up on our travel writing. The laundry we’d picked up earlier in the day had still been damp, so clothes were hanging from every possible point we could find. Our third floor room may have been small, but it was comfortable enough.

We walked to a nearby restaurant (Le Fleur) for dinner and settled at a long table. Giant screens with a local soccer game were being broadcast to patrons, but luckily there was no sound. I ordered a lamb tagine with prunes and almonds, and it was absolutely fantastic – the meat literally fell off the bone, and the prunes were amazing. Ren ordered a Moroccan harira – a tomato and bean soup – that was reasonably bland and tasteless, but filling all the same. Bowls of fresh bread were placed on the table, and these complemented the dishes perfectly. Ren’s avocado juice was very different and very tasty, while my mint tea was warm and refreshing. We wandered back to the hotel in the mild night air, and decided to retire early. We were catching a morning train to Rabat the following day, and we wanted to be fresh for the journey.

It was our second full day in Casablanca.

After a good night’s sleep, I woke just after 5:30am when the call to prayer started at the Hassan II Mosque. It was so beautiful to wake up to that lyrical call. It was obviously a different muezzin (reciter of the call to prayer) to the one who had called the two prayers the night before. His call was had been fitful and wailing, while this morning’s call had a smooth and calming intonation.

We got to breakfast at 7:30am, much earlier than the day before. It was much the same spread, but with an addition of couscous (tiny steamed balls of rolled semolina) in the cold salads and pickles section – we were in Morocco, so of course, I had to try it! It was weird having cold couscous with pickled and preserved flavours for breakfast, but it wasn’t bad. The cakes and biscuits had also changed somewhat, but thankfully they still had lots of ghriyba (Moroccan almond cookies). They also had some very delicious madeleines that hadn’t been there yesterday. I really love the French influence in the pastries and biscuits, combined with undeniably Moroccan ingredients and flavours.

We walked back to the laundry we’d scouted the evening before. As we approached, I noticed that the signage only advertised its pressing services, so I tried to communicate that we wanted our clothes washed and we mimed a washing action, and he nodded but then mimed an ironing action back to us and a thumbs up. Errr… ok. The old guy from the night before wasn’t there, so we had to again try and ask when the clothes would be ready for pick up. After much pointing at watches and pointing to words in the phrase book, we concluded we could pick up our clothes the following day around midday. But the big question was… would they wash and iron our clothes, or would they merely iron our dirty clothes???

With the laundry task completed, we walked towards downtown Casablanca to start our Lonely Planet self-guided walking tour. The walk to the starting point was longer than we expected, but it gave us a good feel for the Gauthier quarter which we wouldn’t have seen otherwise.

Modelled after Marseille in France, Casablanca is famous for its unique old buildings. The city has a mix of traditional Moorish architecture and once-elegant-but-now-faded Art Deco and Mauresque architecture. There are also the ubiquitous modern office and apartment blocks. I had never heard of Mauresque architecture before. It’s unique to Morocco (and possibly to Casablanca) in the way that it blends traditional Moroccan designs and symbols with European architectural forms. So local techniques of mosaics, plasterwork and wrought iron were combined with the straight lines of Art Deco and the sinuous curves of earlier Art Nouveau.

We started our Lonely Planet walk at Parc de la Ligue Arabe and walked to the huge white forlorn looking former cathedral on the edge of the park. Cathedrale de Sacre Coeur was built in the neo-gothic style, but all I could see was an Art Deco building with Moorish influenced twin bell towers. Apparently it hadn’t been used as a church since independence in 1956, and is now only used for exhibitions. Sadly we couldn’t have a look inside, as it was undergoing renovations.

Next on the walking tour was Place Mohammed V. This Square is the administrative hub of Casablanca and home to the Court of Justice, Governor’s Office, main post office, French Consulate, Bank of Morocco and other official buildings. All the buildings were quite striking, but apart from a few palm trees and a fountain, the large Square seemed a bit dull. There were lots of people in the Square, and it’s obviously a place for families to hang out, as there were kid’s ride-on remote controlled cars for hire. However, I realised that the throngs of people sitting or standing around the law courts looked very worried and anxious. We thought we’d walk back through the Square in the evening to see if it felt different once the courts had closed for the day, but we never got around to it.

We then started walking along the side streets of the downtown area which held office buildings, apartments and hotels. It was amazing to see almost whole blocks of gorgeous old Art Deco and Mauresque buildings lining both sides of the street. My favourite streets were Rue Tahar Sabti, Rue Ibnou Batouta and a small stretch of Boulevard Mohammed V near the Central Market. My favourite buildings were Voulibis Hotel, the Maroc Soir building and the Rialto Cinema (which still has viewings of the film Casablanca). It was an overcast day, which was great for doing a walking tour, but sadly not great for taking photos of the mostly white buildings!

I had been very proud of our navigation skills on the walking tour, but then we got lost right at the end of it! We turned left instead of right and ended up on a very busy street selling all sorts of metal and hardware goods. We saw some large silver teapots we really loved, but alas, it was too early in the trip to be filling our packs. A lovely older lady walking past saw us consulting our map and very kindly offered to help. She was walking in the direction we needed to go and we chatted for a little while. She was a retired French teacher who really wished we spoke French so we could converse better with each other (even though her English was very good).

It turned out the end of the walking tour was at a plaza that I didn’t find very interesting and we probably could have skipped it anyway. We back-tracked and visited Marche Central, the city’s Central Market. It was interesting to check out the stalls of local produce, seafood, spices and literally heaps and heaps of glistening olives. However, having stumbled upon the very local market near the old medina (the old town) the previous day, it felt a bit quiet and tame. We meant to have lunch at the market but none of the food stalls really appealed to us.

So instead, we returned to Petit Poucet, a little old cafe that had been listed on the walking tour. It had once been frequented by Edith Piaf, Antoine de Saint-Exupery (author of The Little Prince) and Albert Camus – one of Andrew’s favourite authors. Alcohol is hard to come by in this town, and apparently he came by for the whiskey. We stopped for a pot of mint tea while we people-watched from the portico of the building. We’d noticed that all the cafes had their chairs facing the street rather than facing inwards towards the table. It’s a very peculiar thing, but great for people-watching.

We decided to have lunch at La Taverne du Dauphin near the Casa Port Station. This was promoted as a traditional seafood restaurant, and I assumed that meant local Moroccan food, but it was old school French influenced food. We opted for the three course set menu. I started with the avocado and shrimp cocktail (I couldn’t help myself!) and Andrew had a gigantic salad nicoise. For mains I had a fillet of umbrina (a white fish) with mash and vegetables, while Andrew had a fisherman’s basket type thing with an array of fried fish, prawns and calamari. I chose badly when I picked the fruit salad with lemon sorbet, because Andrew’s Moroccan pastries were much better. Apart from the pastries, everything was classic 1970s flavours at its best and we loved it! As was becoming a custom with us, we finished the meal with mint tea.

Even though we were tired, we opted to walk back to our hotel via the old medina. We’d really enjoyed walking through a small section of it the day before, but wanted to explore more. We started in the residential area again and eventually walked through the artisan streets to the commercial section that was full of fresh produce, fresh meat and fish, household goods, shoes and clothing. There were also general corner stores, pharmacies, barbers, hairdressers and all manner of repair shops. We were amazed at the variety of goods and services on sale within the small medina. I didn’t see a school, but absolutely everything else seemed to be available in that smallish space. As intended we got lost in the twisting maze of lanes, dead end alleys and streets, but we didn’t get as lost as we thought we would (or as the locals warned us we would). However, I can see why it’s not at all advisable to try and find your way through the medina when you’re pressed for time.

We eventually exited the old medina as close as we could to the waterfront and attempted to find a boulevard we’d seen the day before. The vast construction zone all along the port and waterfront made this area quite dusty and unpleasant. However, we eventually found the boulevard and walked along the water to the eastern end of the mosque. It was a beautiful walk and we enjoyed watching the local men fishing off the seawalls, young people hanging out, and young kids diving off the rocks into the water. It was a bit shocking to see the kids diving into water filled with bobbing plastic rubbish, but they didn’t seem to care and were having a fabulous time.

Andrew did a snack run to the bakery near the hotel and we settled down to a late afternoon cup of tea with pastries. To appease my tired body, I decided to write up my notes in bed… well, inevitably, I ended up having a long nap instead! We had walked 5+ hours most days since we’d landed in London, and my legs were starting to protest.

I woke on Wednesday to the 7:15am call to prayer instead of the 5:45am call I’d planned on waking up to! I think I was finally starting to adjust to the new time zone… but maybe a little too well as we’d planned on having an early start that morning.

We wanted to get some sunrise shots of the mosque, as the morning light on the past two mornings had been beautiful. Unfortunately, we’d woken to our first cloudy morning. Regardless, we rushed over to the mosque in case the cloud lifted for some golden morning light, but it never did. It was a brisk morning and we both needed our beanies and jackets! I was still glad we made the effort, as we captured some great shots of the mosque and surrounds without anyone around. While we were there, I realised the street cats sheltered among the large rocks in the retaining seawall around the mosque. Two very cute and curious kittens came over to check out what we were doing, while their mum supervised from a safe distance.

Breakfast was great as usual, with a delicious chocolate brownie type thin cake as the sweet for the day. But the ghriyba cookies were still my favourite breakfast item. This was our last breakfast in this hotel, as we were moving to a new hotel and starting our Intrepid Travel trip in the evening. I knew I would miss these breakfasts and our plush hotel room! However, the woman living across the lane from our hotel room would be glad we were leaving – I had inadvertently flashed her while she was standing on her balcony! Twice! 😱 😄

We checked out and caught a petit taxi to our new hotel in the downtown area. Petit taxis are small red cars that are shared rides. We had it to ourselves until a woman got in close to the end of our trip. The guy at the hotel had told us to pay about 30 dirhams, so we were a bit shocked when the grumpy old driver pointed to the metre and said 13 dirhams. I thought I’d misheard him and raised my eyebrows because it seemed too little, but he thought we were saying it was too much and got even grumpier with us. He then demanded two more dirham for using the boot for our luggage. He’d started yelling and wasn’t listening anymore, so we just couldn’t communicate to him that we weren’t querying the fare. The local woman acted as interpreter and she was embarrassed on his behalf and apologised for his grumpiness. 😊

Hotel Amouday was our new hotel, and incidentally, it was one of the renovated Art Deco buildings we had been admiring on Rue Tahar Sabti on our walking tour the day before. We had been prepared to store our bags and check-in later in the afternoon, but luckily we only had to wait 15 minutes to get a room. We got ourselves organised in our tiny but comfortable room and headed out for the day.

The vibe in downtown Casablanca was very different to the quiet residential area we had been in near the mosque. There was far more buzz and movement, with a lot more life lived at street level. We were going to catch a taxi to Quartiers des Habous (the new medina), but the guy at the reception desk suggested it was only a 20 to 30 minute walk… so we walked instead. And even though it took us nearly an hour (because we got lost twice), I loved the walk very much. Whenever someone says ‘just follow this road and it will take you straight there’, you can guarantee that the road will fork at least twice and there won’t be any street signs when you need them most! 😊

The walk took us from the bustle of downtown to the exclusive Habous neighbourhood around the King’s Palace. The roads were lined with palm trees, and the large white houses with high walls and locked gates were mostly Art Deco or new builds with Art Deco references. It was peaceful and beautiful.

The roads around the Kings Palace were closed, so we had to detour around it. We eventually found the Quartiers des Habous and walked about, looking at the shops. This quarter was set up by the French as a ‘more civilised’ option to the old medina, and as much as I liked the area, I preferred the old medina. The shops in the Habous souq (market) were 100%!s(MISSING)et up for tourists and all had the same kind of mass produced Moroccan clothing, pottery and miniature camels. So not surprisingly, I would take shopping in the old medina over this sanitised version any day.

We checked out the exterior of the Moulay Youseff mosque and then went in search of the bakery recommended by not only the Lonely Planet guide, but also praised in a few articles I’d read – and most vehemently endorsed by the guy at our hotel reception as the ‘best bakery in Casablanca’. We had to ask a stall owner for directions to Patisserie Bennis Habous (in was hidden down a small side street), and it was one of the cutest patisseries I’ve been to. It was one floor down from ground level, with the tiniest of floor spaces crowded with massive bowls overflowing with about twenty different types of sweets and pastries. We choose their signature cornes de gazelle (gazelle horns – crescent shaped pastries filled with almond paste) and almond macaroons dusted in icing sugar. We walked back to the stall owner who helped us with directions and offered him some as thanks, but he was very polite and wouldn’t actually choose one from the box – so he asked Andrew to hand him one. I know it’s polite to refuse a few times, but I’ve never encountered someone who was too polite to choose one for themselves.

A cafe on the corner of the main square had caught our eye, so we walked around to Cafe Imperial and settled into chairs outside and ordered a mint tea. As usual the cafe chairs faced the street and we realised that apart from the Hassan II Mosque, this was the most number of tourists we’d seen in Casablanca. On most of our adventures, we were the only tourists around. A few pots of tea later, we had finished our box of goodies and were ready for the walk back to the hotel. We were really starting to get very addicted to the sweet mint tea, and I was also falling in love with this laidback cafe lifestyle in Morocco!

We asked to use the toilets before we left the cafe and the waiter showed us through a door… I realised a little too late that the toilet was right next to the urinals (that were only separated by half salon style doors), and there were men in there! I stepped back into the cafe rather hastily and nearly knocked the waiter over. The cafe manager berated the waiter, and even though I kept insisting that it was ok and that I could wait… the manager called out for the men to clear the toilet so I could use it! Of course, by now, everyone in the cafe was looking at me and I was seriously embarrassed. Given 99%!o(MISSING)r more of Moroccan cafe clientele are men, the toilet set up has probably never been an issue for them and I was definitely not complaining about the situation. However, the manager and the waiter apologised to me, and the old guy leaving the urinal also apologised to me. Such was the politeness, friendliness and hospitality we kept encountering in Casablanca.

The walk back to the hotel only took the 20 minutes it was supposed to (it helps when you know where you’re going!). We helped ourselves to the mint tea in our hotel lobby and had it with more ghriyba cookies in our room. A nice combination to keep us sustained while we caught up on our notes until we had to gather for the Intrepid Travel’s North Morocco Adventure group meeting.

We gathered in the hotel lobby at 6pm and met Khalid our group leader. Khalid was young and had an easy laid-back manner about him, but it was immediately apparent that he was also super organised. The rest of the group was Sue and Mark, Julie and Mark, Sue and Debra, Tracey and Meewun, Anja and Ineke, Anna, and Dot (who joined us a day later due to a delayed flight).

The group was all Australian, apart from Anya and Ineke who were from New Zealand. There was a wide mix of ages around the table, but heavily weighted towards females. My first impression was that the majority of the group was pretty chilled and had a sense of humour. However, in my experience, the odd ones don’t usually show themselves until day 2 or 3, so time will tell! 😄

We had the usual briefing and left for dinner at Le Fleur Restaurant. Andrew had a delicious lamb tagine with prunes and almonds, and I had the harira soup (a minestrone-like hearty soup of tomatoes, lentils, chickpeas and noodles). The soup was rather bland and I wasn’t a fan of the miscellaneous bits of meat in it, but I will definitely order it again because I’ve been told the recipe varies widely from kitchen to kitchen. Andrew had a mint tea and I tried the avocado ‘juice’, which was like an avocado shake but blended with orange juice instead of milk. It sounds odd but it was quite delicious.

We stocked up on water and snacks on the walk back to the hotel. We had to pack for an early-ish start the next day – we were heading to Rabat by train. I had really really really enjoyed our time in Casablanca. Even though it doesn’t have many wow factors (apart from the Hassan II Mosque), Casablanca had certainly captivated me with its quiet charm. Despite the layers of grime and grit that hide parts of the city, and the obvious social issues that plague it, Casablanca’s down to earth nature and welcoming vibe counterbalanced everything else. It’s the kind of place you have to work hard to find its gems. And while this can be tiring, in some ways, it’s my favourite way to get to know a city.

As in cities around the world, Casablanca is a city of many faces – the wealthy areas along the coast and near the King’s Palace were worlds apart from the middle class areas in the downtown area and surrounding suburbs. And then there was the obvious poverty in the badly built rambling masses of buildings near the port. I think these starkly contrasting neighbourhoods stood out to me more than they normally would, because all these neighbourhoods were within easy walking distance of each other.

While I didn’t personally witness it, I was told the poorest communities (mostly rural migrants) lived on the periphery of the city in large shanty towns full of social housing towers. The towers were built to eradicate the ‘slums’ that were seen as a breeding ground for radicals (and blamed for the 2003 bombings). I’m not sure the problem has been solved… it seems like it has merely been moved to a different location.

It isn’t difficult to see that Casablanca was once a city of grace and glory. There seems to be a fair bit of renovation and refurbishment taking place, so I’m hoping that with the right kind of investment, the white city will shine brightly once again!

On reflection, I loved my time in Casablanca for three reasons – the architecture, the food and the people. I’ve discussed the first two a bit, but feel I should say more about the people. We found the people to be very friendly and very welcoming. Despite being the only tourists (apart from at the Hassan II Mosque and in the Habous quarter) on most of our walks and adventures, we felt very comfortable, safe and unobtrusive. Even the petit taxi drivers and ‘come and look at my uncle’s/brother’s/son’s shop’ types were polite when we said ‘no thanks’ with a smile (apart from one old guy whose insistent following only gave out when he realised I was stopping often to take A LOT of photos). 😊

In line with the Moroccan proverb we opened the last blog with, I’m so glad we chose to ignore the general tourist consensus and experience Casablanca for ourselves. I would return to Casablanca without hesitation, if only to stroll along the Boulevard de la Corniche at sunset or sit in a cafe with a pot of sweet mint tea and a plate of almond cookies and pastries… and watch the world drift past.

Next we travel north-east to Rabat, the capital city of Morocco.


28th May 2019

A local walked us to a restaurant and we had the most amazing apricot chicken tangine I've ever had. I still dream of it. Never enough tea. A country of endless amazing architecture and foods. I do imagine the bathroom incident got bigger than it needed to be. Sorry you knocked over the waiter.
29th May 2019

Re: Casablanca
I love that you still dream of that chicken tagine! Food memories are awesome :) Yes the bathroom incident certainly got much bigger than it needed to be... I was dying on the inside :/
28th May 2019
cathedrale de sacre coeur

On Art Deco
You know, in New York you can see Art Deco, Art Nouveau and Art Garfunkel. OK, that is a crappy joke and it's not even my joke to begin with. I've borrowed it. Thank you for writing about Casablanca. I seem to have forgotten a bit. Or was it that we stayed so short in Casablanca that we didn't have time to see everything. Northern Morocco is still uncharted territory for us so I am looking forward to the next blog entry from you. /Ake
29th May 2019
cathedrale de sacre coeur

Re: On Art Deco
Haha yes that was a bit of a Dad joke... but I still laughed because I didn't see it coming! :) I found that Casablanca (and northern Morocco) had such a different feel to the southern part of the country - it was interesting to see the contrast. Thanks Ake :)
29th May 2019

I’m inspired
We had discarded Casablanca from our itinerary, but you guys have given me second thoughts. Thank you for sharing
29th May 2019

Re: I’m inspired
Thank you for your kind comment Donnie. Hope you enjoy your travels in Morocco :)
29th May 2019
hassan ii mosque at dawn

Mosques at Dawn
Guess by wearing a beanie you have not answered the call for prayer!
30th May 2019
hassan ii mosque at dawn

Re: Mosques at Dawn
That beanie was essential on that brisk early morning! I would love to experience the inside of a mosque at prayer time, but alas, non-Muslims are not allowed.
18th June 2019

Glad to get a glimpse of Casablanca through your eyes. While tour companies seem to give it the short schrift, after reading your blog I also feel it deserves more attention. Would love to visit Petit Poucet cafe bar for its literature connection, and try some of the fabulous Moroccan pastries & mint tea wherever possible. I'm also a fan of good architecture so would look forward to that too. Great photos!
18th June 2019

Thanks Sylvia. I would say it absolutely deserves more attention than it gets, but on the other hand I think a lot of its charm lies in not being overrun my tourists. Petit Poucet cafe is a bit shabby these days, but it was still fun :)

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