CASABLANCA (Casablanca-Settat, MAR)
Thursday December 29th, 2016
TODAYS MILEAGE – 11 miles or 18 kilometres
TRIP MILEAGE – 25740 miles or 41425 kilometres
In case you're not sure, Casablanca was first settled in around 7th century BC, but was reconstructed after the massive earthquakes of 1755 destroyed most of the town. With my hotel not being far from the the Old Medina, I got to experience the city through the ages.
I had my usual 4AM start to the day and after checking some emails and catching up on the news, I grabbed my camera and headed out the door to partake in one of my favourite travel activities - watching a city wake to a brand-new day. First order of business for the day was a short black at 6AM (coffee that is), with all my new found Moroccan mates. In all reality, the streets were deserted, so it was just me and the cafe owner.
From there it was over to the Jemâa Souk (Old Medina of Casablanca) before meandering back to my hotel for breakfast around 7:30. I also had to grab my camera bag for a ½ day private tour of the city, which was rather fortuitous in its making.
As luck would have it, yesterday while checking in to my accommodations at the Hotel Morrocan House, I overheard a Chicago based female traveller enquiring about ½ day tours of Casablanca. I introduced myself to Martha, apologized for eavesdropping on her conversation and explained that I was looking to do a similar tour myself and if she was in agreeance - offered to split the 600 Dirham ($80 AUD) costs. Her acceptance ended up being a win/win all round.
Our driver/guide "Fahed" collected us at 8AM sharp and provided us with an overview of the morning, but said that seeing there were only 2 of us, we'd get to see and do quite a bit more than if he had a full load of 14 passengers. First stop was Rick's Cafe, which opened March 1st, 2004 and was designed to recreate the bar made famous by Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in the 1942 movie classic Casablanca.
After visiting the 3rd largest mosque in the world - Grande Mosquée Hassan II, I came away thinking that I may have to hand in my "Man Card", due to my belief that women should respected and treated equally as men. Whilst the building is impressive both architecturally and with a fair amount of intricate detail, it was the fact that it can hold 20,000 male worshipers, yet only 5,000 female worshipers can be accommodated ..... but only on a separate floor above the males - seriously not cool.
We headed out along Boulevard de la Corniche to get a different perspective of the mosque before Fahed asked if we'd like to take in one of his favourite hidden gems - Cathédrale L'eglise Notre-Dame de Lourdes or Our Lady of Lourde Cathedral. It was well worth the visit as the huge floor to ceiling stained glass windows are simply spectacular, especially with the sun shining through them.
We spent an hour or so exploring the Bazar Riad Habous markets before enjoying a 2PM late lunch at the local Café Zohour. As this was the penultimate stop for the day, I decided to part company and continue exploring on foot, while Fahed delivered Martha back to our hotel.
My "travel moment" for the day was while wandering through the Alal Ben Abdelah market, I decided to visit the barbers for a trim & tidy up. The barber who only speaks Arabic or French, but no English, who's tools consisted of a comb, pair of scissors and a cut throat razor is going about his business, when this fish monger came across with a live lobster in one hand and a handful of prawns in the other and offers them to me. I say to him I have nowhere to cook said items.
No worries – he doddles off and comes back 10 minutes later with a plate of cooked seafood – brilliant!!!
- • Haircut & goatee trim - $5.00
- • Cooked whole lobster & prawns - $10.00
- • Eating grilled lobster & prawns with lemon & butter while getting a trim at the barbers - priceless
• CASABLANCA (Casablanca-Settat, MAR)
• CASABLANCA ~ Place Jemâa Souk (Casablanca-Settat, MAR)
• CASABLANCA ~ Rick's Cafe (Casablanca-Settat, MAR)
• CASABLANCA ~ Grande Mosquée Hassan II (Casablanca-Settat, MAR)
• CASABLANCA ~ Boulevard de la Corniche (Casablanca-Settat, MAR)
• CASABLANCA ~ Cathédrale L'eglise Notre-Dame de Lourdes (Casablanca-Settat, MAR)
• CASABLANCA ~ Bazar Riad Habous (Casablanca-Settat, MAR)