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Published: December 13th 2015
Today I'd like to tell you about Casablanca or Grand Casablanca to give the city its proper title. First of all I'll set the scene. I'm the Manhattan Bar which you can see in the photo. Overdose of orange! I'm listening to bing Crosby Christmas carols for the zillionth time. Sounds like Michael Bubble now...bring back Bing!
We took a 10 hour shore excursion from the ship covering Cassablanca and Rabat. We usually go and muddle around but this seemed to be a better option. Getting lost in Casablanca is a very unappealing prospect. So we set off on a hot sunny day with busload of "friends". You know typical cruise stuff. We were no 16!!!! We drove past "Rick's Cafe"! Yep, where the movie was shot. Oh, I forgot that the movie was shot in Hollywood, and they didn't travel there. And, the bar was only opened in 2005. But still we all thought of the beautiful Ingrid Bergman and Humph. The first stop was the Hassan II Mosque. Built on a rocky outcrop of reclaimed land -- in response to Hassan II's translation of the Koranic verse that proclaims God's throne was built
upon water -- the mosque is a truly marvelous piece of architecture.
Designed by French architect Michel Pinseau, it can accommodate 25,000 worshipers inside and 80,000 more outside. At the time it cost more than $750 million, all of it paid by public money. It took 6 years and more than 6,000 craftsmen to build. They used marble from Agadir, cedar wood from the Middle Atlas, and granite from Tafraoute; Venetian glass was the only imported materials.
The mosque is not only one of the world's largest, it's also one of the world's most high-tech, with heated flooring, a retractable roof, a section of clear-glass flooring -- for worshipers to see God's water below -- and even a laser light atop its 210m-high (690-ft.) minaret, pointing the way to Mecca each night. There's also an ablutions hall with more than 40 fountains and two public hammams. http://www.frommers.com/destinations/casablanca/attractions/216133#ixzz3uC05zcUU
The scale of the place is astronomical. You can't help but be struck by its vastness among the acres of marble. The Saudis contributed vast sums of money. I guess they thought their investment might win some converts from the multi religious population of Morocco. Morocco
is a moderate Islamic country which is tolerant and flexible in the way it interprets Islam.
The lot of women in Morocco is much better than the hard line countries. Women go to school, hold jobs, dress as they wish, drive cars and the ones we met were outspoken. Depart being such a small sample, I hope that this is the norm across the country. The King has put a huge effort into improving the lives of women including banning multiple marriages by men. Women can also divorce their husbands. King Hassan was the first King to allow his wife to be seen in public and that was only a few years ago.
We visited the white city of Rabat where we found one of the natural products from Morocco argan oil. You know that stuff they put in shampoo? I got the real stuff. It has no smell and it works wonders on my hair.
We walked through a local market. A tiny winding affair with lots of fish on offer. Even Tony and Desley the family fishing nuts would have been surprised to see the range. The market unsurprisingly smelled very
fishy. Not a lot of refrigeration in evidence!l The market was overflowing with sardines being close to the largest sardine port in the world-Safi
Rabat is Morocco's capital and 'Royal City'. Known nowadays as the 'Washington' of North Africa, because of its parks, boulevards, monuments, embassies and government buildings, Rabat is also the seat of the Royal Family. Rabat is home to a number of palaces, mosques and parks and you can almost conjure up visions of Arabian thousand and one nights.
Situated on the estuary of a river, this white city faces the Atlantic Ocean. This part of Morocco's coastline is marked by endless stretches of white sandy beaches and boiling surf. It rolls in from the east coast of america and really smashes into the rocky coastline of Morocco. Apparently there are surfing competitions held but you'd have to be a certain kind of crazy to have a go among all the rocky outcrops.
The final part of our journey was a 1.5 hour bus ride back to the ship. It was a festival of epic driving!! And i mean EPIC! Think of all the crazy driving you have experienced in your life
multiply it by ten with it all happening in the dark. People drive at high speed between lanes, cross 6 lane highways wearing dark clothes, double park on very narrow streets used by buses and heavy vehicles. I had my heart in my mouth many times. It was such a relief to get back to the ship.
We really enjoyed Morocco. It had just the right mix of smells, sights and craziness that we enjoy. It's not like the movie because that was filmed in the USA but well worth the visit
love Sandra and Peter xx
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