We were all very excited (you might even read as relieved) to land in Casablanca. Despite my former protestations I am seriously thinking it might be time I moved to business class for these long haul flights!
We managed to negotiate our grand taxi, an 8 seat taxi that will only move once it has a full taxi or someone who’s prepared to pay for the whole taxi – we fell into the latter category! We were heading for a night in Rabat, Morocco’s administrative capital. We paid a smidge more than we were expecting but the express Arabic lessons well and truly made up for the difference.
Although we soon discovered we were slow learners. The driver was excitedly muttering about the king so we were dutifully looking at the passing buildings thinking one was his residence but all of a sudden he was pointing ahead to a flash black Mercedes with motorcycle security. Oops, missed him!
Rabat turned out to be a lovely stop. We headed out for an afternoon stroll to visit Hassan Tower and the remains of the unfinished grand mosque. There were few international tourists but plenty of Moroccans strolling around the area. We quickly gained a sense of the friendliness of the locals.
We then ventured down along the promenade with its multitude of street cart vendors selling delicacies like snail soup – the French connection was really coming through.
We arrived at Kasbah Las Oudaias, a lovely walled kasbah hugging the cliffs of Rabat. The Kasbah was built in the 12th century and contains a palace from the constructing dynasty, a mosque and is homes to locals.
A stroll through the Médina and our first Moroccan dinner and then we were back in our hotel very excited by what we’d seen on our short time in Morocco.
Eating in a foreign country is always fun if you don’t know the lingo. Leigh and Tan ventured off for their morning coffees only to be served hot milk…latte without the cafe is rather bland! With the heads up Karen and I managed to get cups of hot milk with coffee on the side so very passable (although we had attempted to order the opposite).
We then farewelled Rabat to move onto Tangier (Tanger to the Morrocans). It was an interesting drive with our driver Akhmed attempting to give us Arabic lessons and point out the ‘bumba’ cars, our only thought was that this must mean fast given the speed of the Range Rovers and Maseratis flying past.
The longish trip was broken with a lunch stop in the lovely seaside town of Assilah.
Before we knew it our bags were in our accommodation, which overlooked the Mediterranean with glimpses of the coast of Spain, and we were in the Kasbah ogling all the wonderful things we could buy. Karen led the way with some savvy bargaining for a handbag and nearly left with a rug too! Four women in markets…dangerous!
The sweets shops proved too tempting with us getting a box of delicious looking middle eastern sweets. They went down perfectly after happy hour.
We woke with agreement that it would be good to take a breather from the city and so hired Akhmed to take us to a few sites – Cap Spartel (where the Atlantic meets the Mediterranean) and Hercules Cave before dropping us at a flash beachside restaurant for lunch. This is the life!
We wound our way back to our accommodation with Akhmed continuing to show us his multiskilling as he simultaneously drove and pointed out the photos on his phone.
We finished off the night with another extended happy hour and a bit of reflection on our Moroccan experience to date knowing the upcoming destinations were going to be very different to this port city.