Pool side at Le Casablanca

After just over 28 hours of flying from Sydney Australia, we arrived into CASABLANCA …… one of the Imperial cities of Morocco. The Imperial cities are those that have previously been a capital city at some stage of this North African country.

In 1912, the French arrived and made Casablanca the capital, as it was coastal and therefore easy to fortify for military use, had great agricultural land and also phosphate mines, this made export via the sea a winner!

It is still the largest Moroccan city and their main business area and over 5 million people live here. The city has expanded and as we travelled the 30 minutes or so from the airport we could see how far it had spread.

We have arrived a day before the tour starts (so has everyone else) and our home for the night is the stunning Le Casablanca Hotel. ‘Of all the gin joints around in the world she walks into mine’ and what a hotel!

Very French, with beautiful gardens and terraces, music playing (picture Bublé singing Sinatra) and some of the cutest little treats of chocolate brownie and tiny Madeline cakes that you could just pop in your mouth to go with your welcome drink on the terrace and then more little pastry treats when we arrived a little later into our room. They were almost too pretty to eat. ‘Here’s looking at you kid’.

I didn’t realise how French speaking everyone is until I waltzed up to reception and said “bonsoir” and the swift reply in fluid French started, and I had to pop my hand up and say “ ah sorry I’m Australian and that is only 1 of 3 French words I can say very well – the other 2 being Creme Brûlée! There is something wonderful about the word Bonsoir or good evening- I just love it, but really I need to just say it in my head!

Anyway after the terrace ambience we made it to our room, with Romeo and Juliet style Balconette, Lisa and I made short work of trashing the treats (and our room) in our haste to have a shower and meet some of our other weary travellers from Australia.

We grabbed our cameras and headed back down to meet the other gals who had flown via Doha to have our first night together.

I actually can’t remember a lot about the conversation, Sally had organised a dinner on another terrace and there was so much to see…… incredible ceramics, candles lit everywhere, black and white photos walls, a caviar private dining room, some yummy food and I was D. U.N. done …….. good night sweet world.

Thank you universe for the opportunity to be in this a amazing country that I have been wanting to visit for years …… I am finally here.

Breakfast and a quick few photos and we met our local guide Hassan and our driver Abdul and we are off onto our gorgeous luxurious Mercedes bus on our way to see the Hassan Mosque.

It’s the 3rd largest in the world and the largest in all of Africa. Like the Taj Mahal, it is built on stilts over the water for a totally different religious reason, and can fit 25000 people inside and 75000 in the forecourts, is tile heaven and a wonderful photo opportunity for our little group who look like ants against this giant building.

On the edge of the Ocean with the blue sky and cool breeze cameras at the ready position, we all took shots through our own visual lenses before a few group photos, and I loved every minute of our time outside the Mosque (we will have to return ) as apparently there is tours and the locals pray over a glass floor – oh amen and the roof opens!

Taking 6 years to build at the bargain price of 800 Million USD, the hand carved tiles and wooden doors that just go for days are spectacular so are our photos (non biased opinion of course!)

Our half an hour stop turns into a Moroccan hour before it’s our ‘nous nous’ coffee break! We go to a small part of the old town and got to sit enjoy our coffee and people watch for half an hour, people selling anything from tissues and chewing gum to bright red converse sneakers, others shining shoes ……. oh and the coffee well it’s the best I’ve had for days!

We leave Casablanca with ‘a round up the usual suspects’ and drive past Ricks Diner from the movie Casablanca, an import and apparently a popular one….. even though Casablanca the movie was not even filmed in Morocco! We were too jet lagged last night. There’s 3 quotes from the movie in my blog here… do you know which ones ???

Rabat, pronounced slightly different in Arabic or French but it’s another coastal town blending the new and old. The rugged coastal rock ledge was being pounded by the sea, which then comes into a quiet sleepy river filled with little boats and loads of nets, and further along on the edge of the river we stopped for an exquisite seafood lunch washed down with a glass of local rose and sparkling water. It’s here we meet our last two gals from the group, who have been in Tangier for a few days. Our group is now 8 plus Sally and Hassan.

Hassan and Sally then took us to see the Mohamed V’ s Tomb whom they all loved as a national hero after being exiled he brought peace and independence to Morocco. Again, there is that eerie sense of the greatness of the Taj Mahal, just not the vast structure or walking distance or view, but inside the spectacular tomb, is stunning tiles and mosaics that are just incredible. Local families young and old all enjoy the sunshine in the courtyard nearby. My photos are too large to add to my blog so perhaps I will create a gallery when I get home.

Another short drive and whilst my mind is singing rock the Kasbah, we pull up outside the old fortification of Rabat, overlooking the ocean with high stone walls that is now it’s own community, beautiful old laneways filled with character and stories, you could almost hear the walls talk.

Sally bought the yummiest nougat from a young guy selling it in the Kasbah as he chopped it into small pieces from a large big block. watch your fingers!

Our group took photos of doors and windows and the traditional medinas being the courtyard inside the homes, where light filters through the home from the 1 central area and provides them with their own oasis. A wonderful way to spend the afternoon.

It’s back on the bus for a half hour journey to our overnight Villa Mandarine…. an amazing old family villa that is now a quaint hotel, with gardens for days and an eclectic collection of artworks, statues and a heated pool. As we head inland we know it will be cool for a few days as we cross the middle Atlas Mountains, reception may be a little dodgy ( there is wifi on the bus) how clever !

Til next time a very jet lagged Mrs Wong ~Been awake since 5 ! Xx