Morocco to Madrid 1: Casablanca

So, necessary correction from my last post.  It wasn’t “Premium Economy”, it was just “Rouge Premium”, so yes, it was just a straight up “1st Class” bump!  Loved it!

Anyway, on to the more important stuff.  Namely, our first stop on our Moroccan tour, Casablanca!

Now, aside from Marrakesh, and even that would depend on who you’re talking to, Casablanca is the most famous city in Morocco in the same way that Fargo is the most famous city in North Dakota, with the exception that Casablanca actually held some historical significance, being the den of some of the worst pirates to cruise North Africa.  It’s a mash-up of French and Morrocan architecture and it Morocco’s financial capital and, if you believe most people, totally skipable.

And while I wanted to skip all the airport parts of Morocco, from the telecom lady who literally told me to make my French more clear when I was trying to buy a SIM card from her, complaining that she had breakfast in five minutes, to the seemingly endless wait for our luggage.  So that was a bit of a drain.

Easy train ride to the Casa Voyageurs train station, where we had read and had been warned that the scammiest of scammy “Little Red Taxi” (Petit Taxi Rouge) drivers hung about, vastly inflating prices.  Not to go too far into some of the arguing, which mostly involved asking them to turn on the meter, them saying “no, we’ll give you a deal on the price”, and then giving you a price without a deal… well, I guess that’s actually getting into the arguing.

Anyway, long story short, most absurd offer we got was 5 Euros each for a cab, and the actual offer we got was a metered cab about two blocks away from the station, who took us to where we wanted for about 20 dirham ($3) while using the meter.  So if you’re ever in Casablanca, walk away from the station, or be ready to negotiate LOW.

We got to out hotel way before check in, and at that point Daina’s energy level had hit zero.  We got into the room a bit earlier than expected, but I didn’t want to crash out just yet, preferring to do that tonight, so I made the trip up to the third largest mosque in the world (according to some people), the Hassan II mosque.

Built for it’s namesake’s 60th birthday in 1993, the whole thing took only six years to build, which may not seem impressive by modern standards, but when you consider you could fit St. Peter’s Basilica inside of it, it’s filled with fantastic carvings and materials from all over Morocco, plus Murano glass chandeliers from Venice, the timeframe does seem impressive.  The mosque is strikingly huge with the seaside at its back, and I’d definitely recommend taking the guided tour, as it’s really your only way in to all the areas if you’re a bit snap-happy and not a devout Muslim.

Walked back to the hotel and had my first shower of the trip, which was extra nice because a bird pooped on me back at the mosque (good luck?) before chilling for a bit.  Around six, we managed to get up and do a bit of Guide-guided walking around Casablanca’s colonial, “Mauresque” style of architecture, which blends typical Moroccan style with Paris art deco.  Nothing completely mind blowing, but made for a good walk around with some very distinct buildings.  Some pizza broke things up midway for us, and at around 10 pm, we made our way back.

So, I’m not so impressed by Casablanca that I’m putting it on a “Can’t Miss” list, but it has its own charms and, if you have the time, give it a go.

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