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Published: June 26th 2017
Geo: 33.9905, -6.8704
Karim had given us an alternative for today's travel from Marrakesh to Casablanca, that is a trip on a local train. After the 11 hour trip from Fez we were all for not spending all the time on the bus, even if it does have WiFi. So this morning we were all up for breakfast at 5-30am and left the hotel at 6-15.We were driven to the main Railway station and then our driver Mohammed took off to drive to Casablanca with our luggage while we caught the 6-45am train. We were in a first class carriage with six of us in each compartment. The trip took us through fairly barren country side with many cactus plantations and small towns,
We arrived in Casablanca about 10-20am.We left the station to find our bus waiting for us. We then drove to the Hassan 2nd Mosque, the third largest in the world. It took 6 years to build on reclaimed land overlooking the sea and can hold 25,000 people. We met our guide, Moses, who took not only our group but about 50 people in total to see the inside of the mosque. It is certainly huge and beautifully decorated. We walked
to the end where the Imam preaches. There were birds flying around inside and suddenly I felt a plop on my back. Yes, you guessed it!! I was told I was lucky!! Jenny tried to wipe off most of it with a tissue but I was marked for the rest of the day. After we had admired the main section of the mosque we went downstairs to see the large ablution rooms with the fountains providing water for pilgrims to wash. We were then taken into a Turkish bath which is also situated under the main building, Moses explained that it is only there for tourists to see and has never been used as a bath.
Once our tour had finished we returned to the bus and then were driven to a strip of the Atlantic Coast where there were restaurants etc. Karim referred to it as the Corniche and he recommended the Tropicana Cafe which he sad had beer and wine. We went there for a meal but found that no alcohol was available. Fletcher had a seafood dish while I opted for a pizza. He was fine but my pizza was doughy and not very tasty. We left and
found a restaurant across the road where we at least had a beer before we returned to the bus.We then drove to the flower market. This was a very small souk which had some flowers, some fish and meat and many small cafes. No souvenir places which was frustrating. Another brief stop at what is labelled as Rick's Cafe a la the movie Casablanca and then we were off on the road to Rabat. Casablanca seemed to be full of high rise buildings containing many blocks of flats and there were some slum areas, however, as with most of Morocco it was clean and lots of infrastructure building is going on. A very brief visit to a legendary city.
The road to Rabat followed the coast for a while and we settled in for more of the same as we drove for a couple of hours . This is the capital of Morocco and the home of the present king, Mohammed the 6th. We stopped outside the Royal Palace which we were able to get reasonably close to to take photos.There were about 5 or 6 soldiers on guard outside but not rigid like those in England outside Buckingham Palace. From
there we went to see the Mausoleum of Mohammed the 5th, (the current king's grandfather). This is a beautiful building on the site of a mosque that had been started in the 12th century but never finished.Here the gates are guarded by resplendently dressed soldiers on horseback and at the doors into the tomb more Royal Guards are on duty. We went into the chamber and could see the monuments to Mohammed 5th as well as his son, Hassan 2nd and his brother. We walked around the chamber admiring the mosaics and inscriptions and then walked out and back onto the bus.
We then went to our hotel here, Le Diwan. This was comfortable without being super flash, We relaxed in our room until dinner. This was in the hotel and was Vegetable soup, then salmon and vegetables and then dessert. It had been another busy day so we retired to our room for a rest and another early start in the morning.
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