Monday, November 27, 2017
Day 38, Casablanca, Morocco
Welcome to Morocco. Our port today is Casablanca on the west coast of Morocco. We had an early ship’s tour today so we had to be up by 7:00. We docked in a very, very industrial port and were surrounded by container ships and other types of cargo ships. Although the sky was clear of clouds, it was very hazy with what we found out later was dust and phosphate, which is Morocco's major export. Charles and Judy, our friends from trivia are on the same tour today so we met with them before leaving for the bus.
Our tour today is to the “Imperial City of Rabat” ,which is the capital of Morocco and the home of the King of Morocco. Rabat is about an hour’s drive north of Casablanca and is also on the coast. We first drove through the very heavy traffic of Casablanca before leaving the city and passing through mostly populated areas on our drive north. In my mind I had expected Casablanca to be very exotic and old, but although it was obviously an old city, it more closely resembled a large city you would find anywhere in the world. Someone told us Casablanca was a much better movie than a city to visit, and they were right. We finally reached Rabat, which while not as large as Casablanca was still a large city.
|Pictures from the bus.|
Our first stop in Rabat was to see the King’s Palace, which as one person on our tour remarked, “it looks like a casino” and it did in a way, certainly not what you would expect from a royal palace. We were not allowed through the gate so we only saw it from the outside, so I expect it was very beautiful and opulent on the inside.
|A mosque near the Royal Palace.|
|The Royal Palace. Someone in our group said it looked like a casino.|
|Charles took a picture of Val and I in front of the mosque.|
Our next stop was the Royal Mausoleum where the king’s father and grandfather were entombed. It was a very impressive building surrounded by an equally impressive courtyard. Outside of the compound there were two mounted members of the Royal Guard at each gate, and at each entrance to the mausoleum there was one guard stationed on foot. They had to be very patient as everyone had to have their picture taken next to one, but I supposed they are used to the tourists being there every day.
Our last stop was the Casbah of Rabat. I thought the Casbah was located in Marrakesh, but it turns out most cities had a casbah, which was a fortified area. We walked quickly through the Casbah (too quickly for Val and my liking) which was very interesting, but we really didn’t have time to see much. It was built on a hill and we started at the top and as we reached the bottom on the other side we stopped at a coffee shop where we were served mint tea. Personally, I would have rather spent more time exploring.
|As we drove through Rabat, we passed this massive cemetery. This was shot through the bus window and too big for me to get the whole thing, but you get the idea of how big and dense it is.|
We left Rabat and headed back towards Casablanca along the coast. Rabat doesn’t have any sandy beaches as most of the coast is rocky, but they are trying to develop both the domestic and foreign tourist business by building resorts and entertainment zones along the coastline, and making improvements to make it more inviting. On the way out we passed Rick’s Café, made famous in the movie “Casablanca”, but it was only a replica because the original Rick’s Café only existed on a sound stage in Hollywood. Not one second of the movie “Casablanca” was filmed in Morocco and most of its residents know nothing of the movie.
Back in Casablanca we stopped at the Hassen II Mosque, which was built fairly recently and has the tallest minaret in the world at 210 meters. It is the biggest mosque in Morocco and the 13th largest in the world. The Mosque was very impressive, built on the ocean with beautiful courtyards and buildings. We were not allowed inside, but one of our dinner stewards, who is from Indonesia and is a Muslim was allowed in to pray, he said it was very large and very beautiful inside. It will hold up to 25,000 worshippers on the inside and another 80,000 on the courtyards outside.
Our tour was almost over, but we couldn’t visit Morocco without doing some shopping so we were dropped off at the main square of Casablanca called United Nations Square for an hour of shopping. I got my obligatory t-shirt and Val found some things she wanted and then it was time to get back on the bus and head back to the ship.
Our tour today was good, but certainly not our best. It felt rushed and we spent a lot of time on the bus, but it was worth it. Now that I have been to Morocco, if we ever come back I think we would try to find a reputable guide and take a private tour.
We were back to the ship around 3:30 and the first thing we did was get something to eat as we hadn’t eaten anything all day. We didn’t have a full lunch as we were afraid we wouldn’t be hungry for dinner, so we opted for some snacks in the Neptune Lounge. Val relaxed and I decided to go out on deck and take some pictures of the beautiful place where we were docked (snicker). That’s where I found out how dirty it really was as all the railings and decks were covered in a fine dust. The crew is going to have a big job cleaning everything. One of the main exports of Morocco is phosphate so I suspect that may be what is in the air as I saw many ships with open holds waiting to be loaded. I took my pictures and returned to the room and joined Val for a relaxing afternoon.
|This is the beautiful spot we were docked. It was so dusty, I was worried about what I was breathing.|
Just before dinner time, I downloaded our pictures for the day and then headed off to trivia and dinner. There was no casino tonight as we wouldn’t be leaving until 9:00 and the casino wouldn’t open until an hour or two after that; no late night for us tonight. There was a shuttle from the ship that dropped people off at the main square, but many people we talked to tonight said when they were waiting for the shuttle it was so dusty they decided it wasn’t worth it and returned to the ship. I’m glad we got away early.
Tomorrow is a sea day before we visit our last port before heading back across the Atlantic to North America. Everyone is amazed at how quickly this cruise had passed by. I think everyone will be glad to get home, but it is sad to know this adventure is coming to an end soon.