05 December 2012

Big Mosque
Art Nouveau

Casablanca's Medina

Casablanca’s Medina

Up Early today.  Nobody slept that well last night, and after the reaction from the guy running the place we had no intention of staying there another night.
Asking if we could leave our bags (with the morning person) and fining out it was not a problem, we headed out to explore the Medina.  This didn’t take that long, as it is not that interesting.  Small shops, peoples houses, some good, some expensive, and some looking like they need new string ton keep it upright.  The roads didn’t improve, and they are doing sections all over the place, without any sense of order.  Sometimes it has been ripped up in the middle of an alley way, other times it is where the cars are.

Big, Enormous, Gigantic.. they need to invent a new word to describe it all.

Big, Enormous, Gigantic.. they need to invent a new word to describe it all.

Making it to the dock, we stopped for breakfast outside the naval base.  Good and cheep.  Just the way we like it.  The man running the place (or just helped us order, we are not sure) also works in Movies, and was proudly showing us his photos of London, where he had just gotten back from.  They included Brad Pitt and Matt Damon.  It sounds as if he has an interesting life, and is very happy.


Really big..

Our next stop (as the dock was a military one, and not interesting unless you like grey) was the massive mosque.  Casablancas only tourist attraction.  Created by a speech from the King Hassan II in 1980, who thought there was nothing to draw tourists here, other than the bars, conferences, movie, and the fact it is Casablanca.
You can see the tower from a long way off, and it makes a good guiding point.
As you get closer, you start to appreciate how big the tower and surrounding complex are.  It is built in the typical Islamic ratio of 1:5  For every metre wide the mosque, 5 metres for the tower.  The mosque is built out over the water, as God’s throne was on the water, and has a glass floor so you can see the ocean underneath.  It also has a moving roof, so is open to the sky.

A nice place to chill out.

A nice place to chill out.

The place is massive with space for 25,000 people inside, and 80,000 people in the courtyard.  It can easily fit St Peters inside, and is second only to Mecca.  It is so well done in perspective, it does not look out of scale.  When you get closer, you can see these tiny little doors in the middle of the door frame, and entry is by a little cat flap with miniature dwarves going in and out.  There is a large square outside that is utilised by a few people, but not overly crowded, with arched walkways around.  We didn’t go in, as the next guided tour was a lot later, but from the glimpses, it looked as well done inside as out.  It cost a fortune and a half to build, mostly raised by “Voluntary donations”  Built with Marble from Agadir, Cedar from the Middle Atlas, Granite from Tafraoute.  They had to import the Glass from Murano in Italy though.

C44pano1C45pano2Back through the Medina, getting only slightly lost, we grabbed our bags and headed to the station.  CTM is quite close to the Medina, so is handy, and left them there whilst checking out the Art Deco and Art Nouveau buildings in the area.  Some of these are beautiful, and you can be forgiven if you start to think you are walking around a European city.  Even the people act freer (how you can tell this I don’t know, but it did seem that way).  Pubs and clubs are all over the place, sprinkled with things that are typically Moroccan.  A lot of the buildings are missing the upkeep required to have them looking good, and even the Excelsior hotel is showing its age on the outside.  As with the rest of Morocco, maintenance is an issue.

Why is my tail up there?

Why is my tail up there?

Wandering through the Royal Market, we saw lots of fish.  There were also plenty of restaurants here selling fish, and surprisingly, you could even buy some fruit and veg.  Probably to go with the fish!  Frankly, it was a bit fishy all over.  The set up was pretty good though, as you had the fish in the middle, and then the roads out specialised in different meats.  One side was Cow and horse, and the other was sheep and goat.  Outside was all the veggie stalls, and the cafes at the entrances and exits.  Well organised and efficient.

One day, when we have too much money.. sigh..

One day, when we have too much money.. sigh..

By now it was time to head back to CTM, but on the way we had to stop at a magnificent set of doors.  It was the entrance to the hotel.  Anna was busy snapping pictures, and the concierge came up.  Telling him I thought the doors were fantastic, he gestured us in to look at the rest of it.  A bit hesitant, as we could not afford the doormat, we stepped in.  The place was fantastic.  Very well maintained, and the whole reception was perfect.  The people behind the desk were half laughing at us, but enjoyed our reactions.  “This is typical Moroccan” they said.  Yeah, Right.  If you take the best of all we have seen and put it together, it wouldn’t equal one pillar of this place.

Then we had to drag ourselves out of there and over to CTM to head off to Rabat.  The trip here is pretty much the same.  Victorian landscapes, dotted with olive trees and a large industrial sector.  Entering Rabat was not as bad as Casablanca, and the traffic jam moved along steadily.  CTM is outside the city here, so we had to catch a taxi in.  Not too bad, but as the Petite Taxis only take 3 people, we left David & Sophia standing there.  The drive through the city is fairly uninspired.  The same as any city I suppose.  However driving to the centre, we passed through some massive gates.  These have been widened for the traffic, with the original off to one side, looking as impressive as anything.  The first thing we saw that was interesting were all the police and military outside the train station (it is in the central walls).  We asked our taxi driver if this is normal or not.  As we don’t speak the same languages, all we could work out was that there was a protest going on.

Protesting to get a job.

Protesting to get a job.

It was happening directly across the road from where he dropped us off.  There were two groups of people.  One started marching up the street towards the station, and the other stayed outside that particular government building.  We had no idea what it was about, but it was interesting watching them.  They had a conductor!  There was a person there that was walking up and down directing the chanting and clapping.  Even protests here are musical.  There were all different rhythms used, and it was interesting to watch until the others turned up.  Sophia’s Arabic had helped her here, and we found out it was against unemployment.  What the government is supposed to do about it, we don’t know.

Now we only had to find a hotel.  Hoping we would not have the issues of last night, we headed off down the road.  It didn’t take us too long.  There were a few here, however they were a bit pricey.  We did manage to find one for 120 a room though, and above all, it actually has clean sheets!
Dumping our luggage, we went for a quick walk around.  Over to the Medina itself, which is full of street foods.  Most of these smell fantastic.  While Sophia was searching for a meal of snails, we managed to score some kufta sandwiches.  They were pretty good.  Sitting drinking tea afterwards, watching the night life setting up, or walking by.  We definitely can’t complain about life at the moment.  On the way back to the hotel, we started checking out the street stalls for some winter clothing.  There were some good jackets and coats,so we should be able to find us something warm for the upcoming winter.
A game of cards, with Anna thrashing us.  I did manage to take out the award for the most points (I.E.  I Lost!) and off to bed for some more typing.  We have fallen a little way behind in the blog, and need to catch up.



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