After spending the day in Marrakech, we are now on the way to Casablanca. Bordering the Atlantic Ocean, it is the largest city in Morocco. It is the business and economic centre of the country and one of the largest financial centres in Africa. Unfortunately, we will not be spending a lot of time here; the tour itinerary thinks we should only spend a few hours, and that’s a shame! The van drops us off close to the water and we walk along the promenade along the shoreline. We stop to have a look at the restaurant called Rick’s Café – It was built in 2004 and modeled after the place featured in the movie Casablanca.
But we are not eating lunch here today; instead, we head to an authentic Moroccan restaurant for more veggie couscous. Couscous looks like a grain, but it’s technically a pasta! And as I will find out, it will be on every menu of every touristy restaurant we visit on this trip.
Before leaving Casablanca, we head over to the coolest thing in the city – Hassan II Mosque.
We are supposed to go inside, but our tour guide Mo has mixed up the times due to Ramadan. We should have come here first, and then had lunch. Ugh frustrating and a real shame because this mosque is stunning and very significant. Located on the edge of the Atlantic, it has the second tallest minaret in the world at 210 metres. And there is a giant laser on top, and the light shines towards Mecca – the holiest city in Islam located in Saudi Arabia.
Completed in 1993, it is the largest mosque in Africa, and 7th largest in the world. A few more neat facts: it has a retractable roof and can hold up to 105,000 worshippers. The style of the building is a mix of Islamic and Moroccan architecture, the green and turquoise tiles that adorn the minaret and other parts of the mosque make it so unique and beautiful. I wander around and take a bunch of pictures….
Back into the van for an hour drive to the capital of Morocco, Rabat. I’m not sure what to expect of Rabat, but I am pleasantly surprised! When we arrive, we meet up with our local guide Faldil, and he is quite a character! The first place to visit is the Kasbah of the Oudayas; this citadel is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is located on the old city of Rabat.
Today, it is mostly a residential neighborhood – the blue and white walls stand out as we wander through the maze of small streets.
There are a lot of cool looking doors too!
A quick wander through the Andalusian Gardens, which features a great variety of trees and plants.
We finally end up at the rear of the kasbah, which stands high on a hill and looks down on the Atlantic Ocean and beaches below.
Faldil then takes us to his house which is located in the kasbah and we have a little rest and he shows us his boat that he built
Next stop is the Hassan Tower, an incomplete mosque that was to be the largest in the western Muslim world.
Sadly, the only thing that stands is the minaret – it was intended to be much taller but stopped at 44m. We wander though the massive empty square, that features the start of many incomplete columns and a few walls. But not all was lost – some of the ruins were reconstructed to house the mausoleum of Mohammed V. There are some sharply dressed guards at the door of the tomb, and scattered around inside to make sure you behave! They are in good spirits though, and have no problem posing for pics.
Once inside, Mohammed V’s coffin is viewed from above in its marble-y grandeur.
It’s now time to say goodbye to our guide Faldil, but shortly after this he is apprehended by the police who want to check his credentials – they aren’t being nice and Faldil is insulted so there is a lot of yelling and carrying on. We drag him away with us and bring him to the hotel but he is still riled up! So much drama.
Tonight, we are at Hotel Rihab; room is alright for a quick stopover. It’s super late so we have dinner at the rooftop restaurant and call it a night. I was really intrigued by Rabat; I would have loved to see more of this fascinating and historic city!