Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Off to Morocco- Casablanca to Rabat


As usual, preceding a long trip, the past few weeks of preparation were crazy busy. I hadn't slept much. I dressed for the flight in my usual travel fashion, I prefer to refer to it as "Airport bag lady chic". The look is accomplished by layering as much as possible in order to save space in your luggage...you won't be far off if you visualize the Michelin man...which is quite the feat when the thermometer in Toronto is hovering at 32 degrees. I changed before meeting up with my sister in Morocco since she is extremely verbal regarding her opinion of my travel garb fashion statement.

The flight was uneventful, I took a sleeping pill and slept all the way to Morocco...I even slept through supper!

Morocco is hot. After literally being the last to get through the very long and slow moving security line, it took forever to get our luggage. Our driver/guide from Destination Morocco met us outside the airport.

We stopped at my sister's hotel, brushed our teeth and headed into Casablanca.

Casablanca is a large, busy, and crowded port city. We stopped at Hassan II mosque which is the  third largest mosque in the world; surpassed only by the mosques in Mecca and Medina.

The mosque is beautiful and classic. At only 22 years old, it only took six years to build. It is built at the edge of the water and its roof can open in three minutes and close in two....kind of like the sky dome.

After touring the mosque, we were all famished because we hadn't eaten since supper. Our driver, Abdul, said that if we could wait, we should eat at a lovely fish restaurant in Rabat. When asked, he said it was 40 minutes away. ...it was the longest 40 minutes I ever experienced. I think Abdul runs on Caribbean time.

Rabat is a lovely city. The restaurant was fine dining with a beachfront view. The food was delicious. After eating, we all felt much better.

Our next stop was the Mausoleum of Mohamed V and Hassan Tower. The entrances were flanked by majestic looking guards on horses. The entrances to the tombs were also flanked by guards on foot....one of them was the spitting image of Grey Worm from "Game of Thrones".

Our final stop was by far my favourite of the day; the Chellah Necropolis (1300's I think) which also had ruins from Roman times. You could walk freely through the ruins and the gardens were shaded and beautiful. There were many families of large Storks nesting in the highest parts of the ruins. They made loud clicking noises in the backs of their throats.

Every corner turned offered something new and wonderful to see. A fabulous must see site.

Our driver Abdul then dropped us off at our beautiful,squeaky clean accommodations, the Riad Zyo (a riad is a traditional Moroccan mansion/now boutique type small hotel) in the old town. You walk into an open air courtyard with a small pool bordered by metal frogs with jeweled eyes. We were seated on couches in a relaxing living room near the pool where we were served traditional Morrocan mint tea ( delicious), mouth watering salted shortbread cookies, hand squeezed orange juice and water....perfect after our busy day.

After showering ( and the guys had a beer and a dip in the pool), we went out to find some supper. Suddenly a large fire erupted in the crowded street. People reacted immediately and a panicked crowd scattered in all directions. It's a sad state how everyone's initial thoughts run to terrorism. In reality, someone's grilled cooking top/BBQ/whatever, caught fire and they threw it out into the street.

Although exhausted, we still tried to find the kashah, but got all confused with the map so we went back to our area, had some of the yuckiest tasting shawarmas ever and us girls headed back to our traditional riad while the guys headed out.

Before going to bed, we headed upstairs to check our rooftop terrace garden. There as a full moon over Rabat. Gorgeous.

This morning we had a delicious traditional Moroccan breakfast served in the dining area beside the pool. It consisted of Moroccan baked goods, mint tea, hand squeezed orange juice, a Moroccan type pancake and a mushroom cheese omelet. Yum.

I would very happily return to this wonderful Riad in Rabat. The place is lovely, a cool, calm refuge in the centre of everything. The place is  pretty, clean and most of all, the owner and staff are warm, welcoming and anticipated all our needs. It is called Riad Zyo

After breakfast, our driver dropped us off so that we could visit the Kasbah. Very pretty. Great views of the city from the walls.

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