Rabat and Sale - walled citadels and modern trams


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Africa » Morocco » Rabat-Salé-Zemmour-Zaer » Rabat
January 7th 2013
Published: January 14th 2013
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After a smooth train journey to Rabat we checked in to the Pietri Hotel in the centre of the business district. It wasn't exactly cheap but then again we couldn't find any alternatives that were an awful lot cheaper and it was the same hotel where our friend, Linda, was staying. The room was very comfortable and, no sooner had we checked in than there was a knock at the door and Linda was there with some pizza for lunch! She had to go to work though but we made arrangements to meet later.

We spent the afternoon wandering around town and were amazed by the modern trams which grace the streets now. They were not there on our last visit. From some of the information posters we saw there are some very grand plans afoot. It was much cleaner than we remembered and really quite pleasant. Walking around admiring the French colonial architecture made a change from old kasbahs.

That evening we met up with Linda and a Russian ex-pat Dmitri who lives in the city. The four of us went for a great dinner in the El Bahia restaurant set into the walls of the old city. Their tajines were wonderful and we had a great evening. Then we returned to the hotel to find the ground floor jazz club packed to the gunwhales. We retreated to the hotel lobby for a beer and a chat. Bedtime showed a small flaw in the hotel's grandeur - the noise from the jazz club was deafening until after midnight!

The next day we took a tram out to Rabat's neighbouring town, Sale. Last time we were here, it was a place that tourists were advised to avoid. Investment and improvements such as the tram have made a big difference. We got well and truly lost wandering around the kasbah, possibly not the smartest move as it's still a little "edgy", but it was very rewarding. Somehow we found ourselves at the steps of the Medersa, the Islamic school next door to the not-so-grand Grand Mosque. The Medersa is no longer in use but it is open to visitors and well worth the effort of finding it. The decor inside is beautiful and the views from the roof out over the city back towards Rabat are wonderful. The guide from the Medersa then helped us find our way back out and pointed out a few sights along the way including some "famous" tombs.

On the edge of Sale we were staggered by the size of the cemetery which overlooks the ocean. We made our way through the maze of graves to the city walls. It seems a popular activity to drive your car up to one of the windows in the walls and sit there for 20 minutes admiring the crashing waves. It was nice, but they didn't exactly respect our right to walk around the walls! We then took the long walk back towards the tram station. On the way we stopped for a coffee at one of the restaurants in Sale's new and slightly out-of-place marina.

That evening we managed to meet up with Louise who we had worked with in Tunisia. We all met up in a great little bar called 6th Symphony just one street away from the hotel. Then we went out to an Italian restaurant. It was a big surprise to go into the Goethe Institute to find the most amazing restaurant, Le Weimar. We highly recommend you find this place as their wine is pretty good too!! Catching up with Louise was great and we all had a brilliant night. Back at the hotel another jazz session was in full swing so if you are an early bird, we would suggest not staying there on a Tuesday, Friday or Saturday night!

On the Sunday we bought our tickets at the train station for our journey back to Spain the following day. Then we met up with Linda again and walked through Rabat's souk. It isn't great compared to other places we've been to, but it's good to see the markets functioning without tourists around. Then we walked through Rabat's enormous cemetery to the ocean. It's pretty much a twin of the one over the river in Sale. After that we went out to the area where Linda is going to be living for the next few months. It's much more modern but probably less hectic than being in the centre when you need to relax after work.

The evening saw us back at Sale Marina for a meal to say our sad goodbyes. It has been a fabulous couple of weeks in Morocco. It's hard to imagine not returning again at some time in the future.


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