Casablanca was my arrival and departure city for the tour I was on – “Best of Morocco” by Insight Vacations – and as such, we didn’t really spend much time exploring it. That was a shame, really. I mean, how often does one get to Casablanca?
I arrived at my hotel around 5 p.m. on March 25. That evening we met up for a drink and dinner with our tour director and found out details of the tour and departure times for the next morning.
My room was a suite on the 12th floor and I had a clear view of the Hassan II Mosque and could hear the calls to prayer. That was very cool.
We were told Casablanca is the third largest city in Africa, after Cairo and Nairobi. It is big and the parts we saw while driving through were quite European in feel.
And with palm trees… a little bit less European! And McDonalds is huge in Morocco – there were billboards and signs everywhere.
On the morning of March 26 we did a tour on the bus before we headed out on the highway towards Rabat, Meknes and Fes.
We stopped at the Hassan II Mosque and had a half hour to wander and take photos. That is the most stunning building – the detail work of the mosaics and marble is beautiful. It was a glorious clear sunny day.
The mosque is built right on the beach and they used materials that can resist salt – like titanium for the doors.
The Moroccan flag was very much on display everywhere – this display was at the Mosque. They were along the highways too.
We then drove along the beachfront which is called the Corniche – there are restaurants and private beaches, etc. along there. The next photo is looking back towards the Mosque.
Some photos from along the Corniche – the prices in Morocco were very low. The exchange rate was around 7.15 Moroccan Dirham to a Canadian Dollar – so the breakfast for 40 dirham would only be $5.60. Not bad.
We then left Casablanca to head out on the tour.
We arrived back in Casablanca on April 2 in the early afternoon.
We had free time until the Farewell Dinner. I emptied out my bags and repacked for leaving in the morning and enjoyed a proper cup of tea as this was the only hotel on the tour that had a kettle in the room!
The Farewell Dinner was at Rick’s Cafe. Now I know, and YOU know, that the movie Casablanca was fiction and the place, Rick’s Cafe, does not exist. However, some enterprising woman bought a house near the Navy base and converted it into a restaurant called… Rick’s Cafe. And obviously is doing very well based on the number of tour buses off-loading tourists for dinner.
It bore absolutely no resemblance to the movie version at all – I didn’t even hear “As Time Goes By” being played from where I was seated. The food was adequate but not great, the service was very good. I was told that the lemon tart for dessert was excellent – it looked good. They have little souvenir menus for you to keep and hand out postcards as you leave.
We left there around 9 p.m. as one family on the tour had to leave for their flights at 10 p.m. And the rest of us were leaving at different times in the morning, starting around 4:30 a.m. so we mostly said our goodbyes when we got back to the hotel.
I’ll cover the optional tours, other sites and short stops over the whole tour in my next posts!