I doubt the first thing you associate Morocco with is people exercising in the early morning. Alright, to be honest, the first things to really make an impression on us were the warm smell, the sea and the traffic jams that overwhelmed our senses as we were leaving the port and then Casablanca on our way to the capital – Rabat.
This is the highway we drove on and the field beside it, in which a group of women are doing their morning exercises. Then joggers on a path. Then a park, in which people were doing tai-chi. Unfortunately we couldn’t capture them in high quality, but we’ve retained the memory. =) Welcome to Morocco!
We had a short bathroom break before speeding off again towards Rabat – the heat was growing ever more intense.
The sun peeked shyly out from behind a quilt of clouds in Rabat and invited us to start our vacation with a visit to the king’s palace. A real palace, folks – not just a tourist attraction – which can sadly only be admired from outside. It’s surrounded by a huge park that houses plenty of fountains, its own mosque, and additional housing for the staff.
There’s no getting past this tight security, so our guide used postcards from the seller nearby to show us the interior. This little marketing trick paid off – we bought all the postcards available. 🙂
Content with our purchase, we returned to the bus and continued on the mausoleum of Mohammed V, a beautiful white building with guards that have turned into a tourist attraction themselves.
Thankfully we were allowed to see what hides behind the white marble walls.
The Hassan Tower is located on the same grounds. It is an unfinished building from the 12th century, consisting of an unfinished minaret and about 300 partly preserved columns that survived the earthquakes in the past. Such a pleasant surprise, thank you, Morocco!
Our last destination in Morocco was the Kasbah of the Udayas, a fortress from the Middle Ages. This place is defined by its narrow alleyways, red outer walls and blue internal walls, palms, an… “interesting” scent and heat.
This all reminds us of the Greek islands.
We’re off to Casablanca, here are some photos of our departure from Rabat:
And here we are in Casablanca.
You can’t really miss the large amounts of Mercedes cars. 🙂
The bazaar offers a plethora of typical regional products, but we left them to the photographer to enjoy. It didn’t take us long, as we walked on our own through the streets, to realize that you have to keep an eye out and plan your independent visit to Morocco meticulously.
We walked on broad boulevards in an attempt to find the Mahkama du Pacha, the pasha’s palace. We didn’t really dig into the history that much – you can find everything on the internet anyway. 🙂
We also wanted to look around the older part of town, the medina quarter, but we were told our safety was not insured there so we had to pass. As proof that everyone was accepted here regardless of religious belief, the tour went on to the gargantuan Catholic church Notre Dame de Lourdes.
We were then given a short lunch break as an opportunity to enjoy a local meal.
Paradoxically, we celebrated Moroccan cuisine in the Sheraton Hotel. 🙂
The moment of truth really came, though, when we visited Mohammed V’s mosque, the pride of the city. It was financed through public donations. Up to 25 000 people can gather inside for prayer along with the 80 000 in the courtyard.
There are requisites for prayer – you must be clean, both in spirit and body. The designated area for cleaning before prayer is impressive as well. Like everywhere else in this mosque, there were separate areas for men and women.
Outside, the mosque and its courtyard can openly admire the view of the great Atlantic Ocean.
We simply had to also stop at a shop for traditional Moroccan medicine and cosmetics. It was a bit overwhelming for tourists =) so we couldn’t really invest, but the Americans in our group seemed deeply impressed and was willing to spend hundreds of dollars. =) Looks like Moroccans know how to do business.
On our way back to the ship we dropped by the famous Rick’s Cafe, opened to imitate scenes from the film Casablanca, an American romantic comedy from 1942.
We had experienced plenty of emotions and things, a mixture of cultures, beauty and filth, scents both pleasant and unpleasant. It was time to retire to the ship and enjoy the cultural program.
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