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Published: August 16th 2007
Inside Hassan II Mosque
Huge ornate and impressive Mosque in Casablanca.
Morocco huh, who put that on the itinerary.......... oh was it me?!?!?!?
Morocco was bit of a doozy as far as travel destinations go. The country is alot less accessible than other places we have visited and it took more out of you to function within its borders, that being said it was not just a sit back and everyone can kinda understand english kinda place (Dont even try to learn Moroccan Arabic, which is different than standard Arabic and only understood in Morocco and parts of Algeria.... french gets you by though) and it was more difficult to maneuver than anywhere else we travelled so far...... as the title says, same planet different world.
Morocco was a mix of ups and downs. For every good experience like the beautiful city like Essaouira, there was a not so good one like our spirited "misunderstanding" with some Moroccan Hash dealers...... for every Hassan Mosque there was a airport security guy trying to steal money out of your money pouch....... for every nice cabbie, there was the guy who quoted 20 Dihrams and then tried to milk you for twenty each upon arrival..... for every overpriced piece of pottery we bought,
there was an airline selling tickets at rock bottom prices willing to charge you $200+ in excess luggage weight fees, only to break much of said pottery in transport...... Morocco was the only country to date where I left and didnt look back thinking..... I would do that again. You would have to pay me a pretty penny to repeat this one but I guess its partially my fault.......... maybe one week instead of two woulda done the trick as each city became more and more repetitive of the one prior.
Socially it was interesting to step into a Muslim country for the first time and some of the differences were immediately visable..... outdoor eateries and tea houses were 95% men and lined most major avenues/streets, the lack of women put you off a bit and made selecting eating venues a lil iffy when there didnt appear to be any women anywhere. Women also largely travelled in the presence of men and mainly wore long sleeve clothing and head scarves regardless of the weather......... it was definitely different. During our visit to the Hassan II Mosque we were also told that female worshipers entered through a different door than
Venny in downstairs of Mosque
The place had two levels, the bottom was for prayer and also for purification and had baths and a water pool downstairs.
the men and were seated seperately for prayer also....... different I tell you ....... different. The cities
The cities in Morocco are basically comprised of the Medina or "old town"and the Neu Ville "new town". The Medina's date back hundreds of years and are an interesting mix of shops, locals, and pre automotive narrow streets and alleyways............... the quantness of the Medina wares off a bit after the third city or so because they are all very similar. The Neuville, in each city is not really of much interest to the traveller and is simply a more modern extension of the city. To top it off, a item of interest in each city is its main Mosque and Medrasa but these are mostly off limits to non muslims and looking from outside just doesnt quite pack the punch of a good ol inside the front door look at things.
The trip was not all bad, Dwayne and Ceycette came out to visit us and hang out for a while which was a definite plus, Essaouira was great, Tangier was cool, Fez was pretty cool (but it got a little tainted at the end)...... and here it goes city
Dwayne and Ceycette downstairs
Dwayne: No really, the guy said the ceiling opens in three seconds.
Marrakesh was our introduction to Morocco, it started off fair enough.... the standard arrival and customs/immigration line, haggling with a cab driver at the airport before being taken to our hotel.... which we didnt have booked so we arrived at the Marrakesh medina wet behind the ears and wandering in a new country, in a new city, and in a different world. No sooner had we been dropped off in the taxi when a kid came up and helped us through a maze of traffic to some nearby hotels/riads, the first was booked so he ducked us through a back alley and around a corner and into the maze of alleyways that make up the medina. We got checked into a riad soon enough and got cozy for the night. We only had one night and we were off to Essaouira the following day...... we would return to Marrakesh though on our way back north. Running around that night I found the city to be crowded, and hectic...... we were in the medina and our riad was just off the main square, which gets jam packed with locals come nightfall for alot of music, food and
Essaouira was an up in the trip, it is a very quiet coastal town with old ramparts and a cozy little medina full of shops and local flavor. We spent only three days here but it was time well spent relaxing, and touring the winding alleys of the medina. We caught a bus there and were planning to bus back to Marrakesh but to our surpise when we went to the bus station we were dropped off, we were told that the return bus picked passengers up at a different location. We now needed to hustle over to the new station to make our bus. We left the station and started trying to make sense of the taxi situation...... I tried to ask where the station we needed was and how much to get there and coincidentally started talking (trying to anyway) to a "grand taxi" driver did taxi rides for the two hour trip. We scribbled numbers on paper and spoken broken languages back and forth until I understood that for a dollar or two more he would take us in a taxi to Marrakesh, faster than the bus, and save us the fare to
Mosque from a distance
The place was huge and occupied a whole square right on the coast, impressive to say the least..... almost thought about going back to see it again.
the other terminal...... the catch, there couldnt be a catch could there? lololol of course there was..... there were already two ladies in the back, Venny hopped in the back and I reached for the front door handle only to get the finger wag from taxi driver X's buddy who pointed me to the back seat where four of us crammed in and they put three people in the front seat...... seven deep in the desert in a taxi........... it was an experience and kinda funny............ as a side note I have never before or ever since seen goats in trees, but on the road between those two cities the vegetation on the ground is so scarce that the goats climb trees and eat the tree leaves.
A nice city oceanside and home to the Hassan II Mosque, one of the Mosques that non muslims are allowed to enter. The place was huge and very impressive, we got the guided tour and snapped away in each room of the elaborate building. Other than that and the medina, there wasnt too much goin on in Casablanca (eat your heart out Humphry Bogart).
Breezed through in a day............
walked around a bit..........
I liked Tangier, it's just a stones throw from Spain and has a definitely more relaxed feel to it, we had a nice lil hotel overlooking the port and wandering the Medina was enjoyable, having the ocean so close was nice also........... see it wasnt all bad!
A nice little city tucked into a hillside in northern Morocco, we did a few days here and visited it's blue medina......... painted that way by the locals. Overall it was a high of the trip, very chill......
We liked Fez alot, it was another big city but something about it was kinda different, we actually enjoyed the Medina (strange as it was the last city but didnt seem too repetitive, strangely fresh)......... we picked up some nick-knacks and overpriced pottery..... dont haggle with Moroccan salesmen, you'll lose......... getting out of there via the airport was a nightmare......... never fly Ryanair!!!!!!!
On that note............. I'm sure we'll have a much more glowing report from our next destination........... Amsterdam!!!!! I have a feeling there will be 24 hour hot water, consistent electricity and drinkable tap water......... I cant wait.
A shout out
to Dwayne and Ceycette for coming out, you were a highlight of the country!
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