Our introduction to Morocco has been its largest city Casablanca. To be frank the city wasn’t on our list of must see places here, but the best flights for us were in and out of here so this is where our Moroccan experience begins and ends.
We arrived 24 hours ago. Our time here has been a bit of departure from the way we have planned the rest of our stay. After some long travel days, Maria wisely decided we should bunk down at a western style hotel to get our bearings. So here we are, in the heart of bustling and dirty Casablanca in the sanctuary of the Hyatt … this Sunday afternoon after spending the morning walking the unfamiliar streets in search of places we never found, we are recuperating by a typical hotel pool. Maria is playing scrabble on the iPad, Johanna is swimming and diving off a little diving board, and I’m tapping away the afternoon.
This morning we visited the Mosque Hassan II. Like the most grand of Christian Cathedrals, major Mosques like this one are extraordinary examples of architecture and symbols of the religious perspectives of the communities in which they exist. Maria’s photos will paint a much better picture than my words. After our tour, we sat in the shade and watched other people and families rest in the shade of its arches and courtyards, kids playing and mucking around as they do all over the world.
The hotel staff had suggested that nearby was a ‘beautiful walk’ along the foreshore, with cafes and restaurants. Either our understandings of what constituted attractive was poles apart, or we had an epic fail of navigation. We found ourselves in a residential area of run down apartment blocks, certainly not part of the tourist trail. We managed to get back onto a main road and were contemplating giving up and hailing one of the little local red taxis, when we found a few hooty tooty restaurants on the rocky water front. Clearly the spot well to do Casablancians go for Sunday lunch. Posh waiters served us really good salads and fish, we were very thankful we are operating in Moroccan Dirhams rather than Euros now … we paid about the same for a 5 star lunch as we would have done on Lygon Street back home.
The language is a bit of a hurdle. We have experienced already that once we step outside the Hyatt, which we do tomorrow for the next 3 weeks, its French or sign language. I’ve been swatting up on French phrases but my language pick up is pretty average. I’m hoping its forced use will improve my French as we move around the country.
I’d also hoped to get our mobile internet sorted while here in Casablanca. It turns out the Telco retail stores are closed Saturdays and Sundays, so despite the concierge’s best efforts to get us a SIM from a local kiosk, I can’t get it to work in my MiFi device, so I suspect he got a normal phone Sim rather than a data one … when all the instructions are in Arabic I’ve got Buckley’s of troubleshooting.
From here we do a 6 hour bus trip to Chefchaouen, which is up in the mountains near Tangier. I think we are all looking forward to blowing this town and taking in the country side. Its great to be here after having had it on our bucket list for a while now, but Casablanca is just the gateway.