Casablanca and Rabat, Morocco
“Travel while you are young and able. Don’t worry about money. Just make it work. Experience is far more valuable than money will ever be” Anonymous
After 15 days on tour, I am still not sure how I feel about Morocco. Yes, areas are breathtakingly beautiful even if the terrain could be considered barren and stark. That in itself is beautiful. It could be that this country is so out of the “norm” for me as far as what countries I have visited so far.
I arrived in Casablanca a day earlier than the tour was to start. The Moroccan House Hotel was definitely Moroccan. The decor was Moroccan with none of the western world stylings. The staff were kind and very attentive. I had left my reading glasses on the plane and frankly can’t do a lot without them. One older man (not sure if he was staff) at the hotel took me to a friend who had a shop. The shop was so tiny that to reach his stock the shopkeeper had to climb a ladder and step over to the particular ledge. It was quite impressive. He did not have any glasses but thought that perhaps a magnifying glass might do the trick. As a fall-back, I purchased it. Later that day, I was returning from sightseeing when the receptionist called me over. He had generously taken it upon himself to get a pair of reading glasses for me. They worked……..I gratefully bought them from him.
The city of Casablanca itself is not spectacular. Another woman and I hired a guide to show us a few highlights. I found this city to be somewhat unimpressive and just a bit dirty.
The following day we hired him again to take us to Rabat, the capital of Morocco and home to the King. It was spotless and filled with flags which you would expect from a capital. Mind you we did not tour the Medina or old part of the city. We decided to go to the palace. That was a funny story because the previous day I was told that I would need my passport to visit the palace. And, yes, I forgot it. So my friend received permission to enter the palace, but I had to go inside the gatehouse. The only id I had was my credit card. After a bit of discussion, I was permitted to go to the palace. I guess I didn’t look like a threat. So off we go. Eventually, we find out that we could not go into the palace as we thought but were allowed to take pictures from a distance across the street.
We also went to the Mausoleum of the three kings, well actually it was two kings and one prince). Very impressive. There were four doors. Each door had a guard. Once inside, there was a guard in each corner. The tombs, which were on the lower floor could be seen from above. On the outside of the building, there was a wall surrounding the building in which there were two entrances. At each entrance, there were two guards on horses. They were stationed there, not moving for 8 hours at a time, then relieved by the next shift of guards and horses.
One of our other stops was to the Chellah which was designated a World Heritage Site in 2012. Past the massive main gate, you will see both Roman ruins and a medieval Muslim cemetery. The site was built by the Romans around 40 AD as one of the main Roman naval ports. Around 250 AD the Romans lost control, and it was used as a cemetery. The site is also home to a colony of storks that build their nests on the top of the ruins. Quite an impressive sight.