GUEST ARTICLE: Casablanca, Morocco didn’t exactly have the romantic sentiments feel that was expressed in the famous movie. We arrived on a hot June afternoon and as we meandered through a maze of dirty streets and highly congested traffic we found our hotel located in the old area of the city (Maamoura Hotel – well deserved high rating on Tripadvisor)
Our room was quite nice and spacious with high vaulted ceilings and arched doorways, giving it a real, authentic feel. Feeling a bit peckish we ventured out into the streets in search of some of that famous cuisine Moroccans are well known for.
Luckily our friendly hotel staff literally showed us the way to a real authentic Moroccan restaurant. It was everything and more than we had anticipated. The décor was incredible, thousands of tiny hand painted mosaic tiles covered the walls, stained glass windows lit the room with an array of warm colours and the furniture was beautifully handmade adorned with colourful cushions.
And the food! We were given a list of set menus to choose from and gorged ourselves on mouth watering Tangines (Moroccan stew) with delicate couscous accompanied with fresh salads and breads – yum!! We did find out later that you don’t have to order from the ‘set’ menus but rather from the main menu, which turns out to be cheaper…tourist trap? Yup, just keep your eyes open.
The next day we jumped in one of the local taxis called “Petit Taxi.” They are tiny old red cars which are the main transport around the city. Make sure you get the driver to use the meter and unless you don’t want them to pick up additional passengers along the way, you’d better say so (very common there). We got dropped off at Ain Diab located along the oceanfront.
It’s a nice strip consisting of some bars and beach clubs. It’s not quite as beautiful as some that we’ve seen but if you’re looking for a beach chair for a price and some R&R, this is your place. And for the ladies, you can wear your bikini but forget about taking a dip in the freezing Atlantic ocean in June…brrr
The main language spoken there is Arabic but there is also Berber, French, some Spanish and English. The dressing attire for women can range from full cover to western wear, depending on what you want to wear but be prepared for the looks and comments that may come with it. Don’t forget their culture is very different than that of western culture.
The last tourist site we ventured to was an old city called The Old Medina (Ancienne Medina). There are numerous little alleyways consisting of small shops selling clothes, local crafts, food, jeweller. There are plenty of things to see but if you’re looking to buy, make sure to take a good look around first as prices vary greatly (don’t get caught in the tourist trap!).
A common trick is to approach you as you come into the Medina, escort you to a shop and sell you something before you’ve had a chance to see what the price really should be,
While we were looking around we were befriended by a local man who called himself ‘Friday’. As we walked Friday came along to give us a full historical breakdown about our surroundings. In the end we parted ways but felt obligated to give a ‘donation’ for his unrequested service?! To end our short trip we had lunch at a beautiful restaurant called Café Maure and ate our last mouth watering Tangine and couscous.
I don’t think we’d go back to Casablanca but would rather check out some other spots like Marrakesh or Fes, and of course to partake in some more of that delicious Moroccan cuisine! Highlight of Casablanca – the food!!
This travel diary has been written by Rob Gower, a friend who enjoys taking the road less traveled!