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Published: April 3rd 2011
My plan for today was simple; get up early, have a quiet breakfast in the hotel, taxi to the train station and head to Marrakesh. I was able to do 3 out of the 4. The train was to leave a little before 9, so I was there by 8:30; however, when I checked the board, all the trains were leaving well past 9 and the time was 9:30. I knew I had set my watch back 2 hours when we landed, set my travel alarm and double checked the current time online. What I didn't plan on was the fact the today was when Morocco switched to Daylight Savings Time and moved forward an hour. Hmm, it would have been nice for the hotel to mention that when I checked in. But, it's all part of traveling. I bought a ticket and headed off to Rabat, the capital of Morocco. Since I always tear out the pages of where I am heading so I don't have to carry a guidebook, I was flying blind the whole outing.
The train was quick and easy. I had to scramble to make it onto the train, so didn't have time to consult
a map that gave all the stops. As soon as I saw the Rabat station, I hopped off, bought a small map in a tobacco shop and headed out. Not only was I at the wrong train station, but I didn't know it so started walking according to where I thought I was. None of the streets were even close to being what the map showed, so I stopped a taxi and let him do the driving. As we passed the main station it all made sense. My first stop was the Hassan Mosque, once a giant mosque started in 1195 and destroyed by an earthquake in 1755. Today it is a field of varying sized columns and a 50 meter tall ornate minaret that had never been finished. It was an overcast, rainy day, but this was still most impressive. Before I planned this trip I was looking through the guidebook's section on Rabat and this was something I very much wanted to see. The whole area is guarded by Royal Guards on horseback, adding to the experience. Were I to have had the guide pages with me, I would have understood that the Mohammed V Mausoleum is just
This went into the minaret
opposite the minaret. It is where 2 Kings are buried explaining why so many Royal Guards are stationed throughout the area. The inside of the Mausoleum was breathtakingly ornate. Guards were at each entrance, and each corner inside. The tombs are down in a lower level visible from the top. It was quite impressive and something I am so grateful to have seen.
Walking from there, I found my way to the Medina. If I could just say that Rabat is not really geared to tourists, or at least from what I saw. It seemed that I was getting a very real glimpse into Moroccan life as I wound my way to where I felt comfortable enough to enter the Medina. At one entrance I started walking in, but it just didn't feel right to me, so I went back out and kept walking. Luckily I did find an entrance where it seemed a good, safe place to head in. The place was packed. Stalls were on both sides featuring all types of shoes, rugs, scarves, leather, silver and so on. I am not a good haggler, nor am I good at ignoring the sales people trying to get
me to step into their shops, so I put on my bad-ass face and just power walked my way through. It worked swimmingly if I may say. I did buy a few things, including a key-chain in the shape of Morocco on which the man wrote my name in both Arabic and English.
Across from the Medina was the Kasbah and beyond it, the Atlantic. I walked all the way out on a fishing pier and sat and watched the waves and did some people watching. The Kasbah is a walled village it seemed, so I left the one area I had gone to, but I did find a beautiful garden in another section. As today's post is titled, I was "Making it Happen." So I didn't have a guidebook or any idea what I was doing, I knew if I kept my eyes open I could figure it out on my own. After all of this, I was hungry and tired, and quite frankly very grossed out by the foods I was seeing as I went back through the Medina. Sanitation and proper food handling are not a big deal in this area I found out. Luckily I
had a couple granola bars to hold me through until I could get a croissant and some dark dark coffee near the train station. Overall this was a very fun day. It was not sugar coated and gift wrapped like so many tourist destinations, and that is one reason I enjoyed it so much. This part of the trip is about experiencing a very different culture, one that is very interesting to see.
It rained all the way home and all night. I took the train to a different station in Casablanca, but had a feeling I could get myself back to the hotel. As I left the station I saw another hotel that we had passed in the taxi this morning (and can I just say that the taxi was held together by gum and string. My door didn't even close so I held on as we whipped through traffic.) I started walking and actually made it back to the hotel with very little problem. Tonight's dinner was down in the hotel restaurant. Let's just say that I didn't bother with pictures and won't go into waxing so eloquently about the food. I think it was when the
music started playing "I Just Called To Say I Love You" on pan flute that I started looking for an evacuation slide or eject button. But, tomorrow is another day and another adventure.
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