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Welcome to Morocco 🇲🇦 مرحبا بك في المغرب

Casablanca, Rabat & Sale

View Morocco 2022 & Morocco Tour on margofiala's travel map.

Assalaamu alaykum (Hello) from Morocco!

Here is a map that provides an overview of our 27 day adventure through Morocco. Hope you enjoy the tour with us! (Note the map is live, so you can zoom in and out. Also, when you zoom in you can click on the dot for the name of each location. The furthest north is Chechaouen and the furthest south is Erg Chigaga in the Sahara Desert):

We landed in Casablanca, an easy 3 hour direct flight from London Gatwick. A whole different world but not very far away, and just a stones throw from Spain. We stayed at the Hotel Le Doge Relais & Château in central Casablanca, a restored villa with 16 rooms, all individually decorated with a spiral staircase in the middle leading to the rooftop terrace. We were in the Scott Fitzgerald Rm, author of the Great Gatsby, who frequented Casablanca in the day.


We arrived in the evening and enjoyed a glass of French rose wine on the rooftop terrace and went to bed.


We only had one full day in Casablanca, so set our early to see the sights. The first one being the 3rd largest mosque in the world, the Hassan ll Mosque (the 2 larger ones are in Saudi Arabia). This one is dramatically set on an outcrop over the ocean and can hold 105,000 worshippers. It is a very modern showcase of Moroccan artisanship with hand carved stone and wood, intricate marble flooring, geometric mosaic tile work and gilded cedar ceilings. The floor can be heated in cold weather and the roof opens in warm weather. Completed in 1993, it’s one of the few mosques non-Muslim’s can visit in Morocco. The minaret is 210 m tall and the white marble exterior changes color in the light, reminded me of the Taj Mahal in India. The building materials are all from Morocco with the exception of the Venetian chandeliers. One third of the cost was paid by the King and the balance came from the people of Morocco at an estimated cost was $1 Billion USD!

The exterior:


The interior:


The lower level for absolution (washing before praying):


The Venetian chandeliers were impressive but seemed a bit out of place:


“It’s all Greek to me”, actually, it’s all Arabic! Good thing some signs are international!


We walked down the seafront promenade, watching the crazy Atlantic crash in and people watching. Given it was Sunday, lots of families were out. It was warm, 25c/77f.

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The fresh fruit is amazing, I had a pomegranate juice that was very tasty. It took at least 2 large pomegranates and a lot of work to get one small glass of juice. Tourist prices, it was just under $5.

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I also got roped into getting henna on my hand. I had intended to try it, but hadn’t planned on that day or that much! (Good thing it’s temporary):


We continued our walk by the famous Ricks Cafe, from the famous “Casablanca” movie. Unfortunately it was closed when we walked by, so no cold beer for us. (“Here’s looking at you kid!” Best line by Humphrey Bogart, says Dean.)


The medina (market) was colorful and busy. Everything you can imagine for sale, fresh chickens anyone?


The French built downtown area reminded us of Havana, Cuban with it’s art deco style architecture, some definitely had seen better days.


Check out the flags at the Canadian embassy, “budget cuts” says Dean:


Dean tried to get cash (Moroccan dirhams) at several ATMs but was not successful. They were all out of cash because it was Sunday. Miraculously the next day, they were all full again.


A very modern theatre and arts center:


Beautiful park in the center of town. Interesting that it was right beside a massive Catholic Church in Casablanca.


Dinner was fun, unique and tasty at NKOA (Chicken pastille; Caribbean tuna slices with creole sauce, hummus and sautéed vegetables; Prawn Masala prawns with curry, coconut milk, basmati rice and vegetables):


We met our driver Ali the next morning in his Toyota Land Cruiser. It was spotless and we are getting the impression that’s how he likes to keep it! We stopped to clean the windows right away…and our impression is he wouldn’t want a stray dog jumping in 🐶🐾❤️.


Onto the capital of Morocco, seaside Rabat and it’s neighbor Sale, two cities sitting side by side with a river running between them. It also sounded like they have a very competitive relationship! Ali dropped us at our hotel, Dar Shaan, a lovely restored riad transformed into riad. Riads are traditional Moroccan homes that generally have a courtyard or garden in the middle, a rooftop terrace and rooms on the floors in between. Typically they have been converted to small, 6-10 rooms boutique hotels. This one had a pool!


Great doors in Rabat medina (market).


We toured the kasbah (Moroccan castle/fortress) with great views of the Atlantic.


The Moroccan flag:


Being the capital, Rabat is very clean and has a lot of new development. Here’s an example - a new train station and the Mohammmed Vl tower is the tallest building in Africa at 250 m/820 ft (not very tall by North American standards) housing offices, a hotel, retail stores and condos. “Kind of looks like a bullet” says Ali.


We had a tour guide for neighboring Sale. Mohammed worked for the Ministry of Culture and during the day was responsible for the restoration of the Sale Medina, so had a lot to share about Sale and it’s history. He did tours in the early evening to supplement his income (he joked to pay for his daughters). The gates were outstanding and historically were canals with direct ocean access.


The highlight of the 13th century medina was definitely the Medersa (school for studying the Koran and other subjects like astronomy). It is decorated in the same Moorish style as the Alhambra in Granada, Spain. Amazing!

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Mohammed also toured us through the areas undergoing restoration, very detailed, labor intensive tilework!


Apparently you always find stuff when digging here, and this was no exception. Bases of columns from 1326 were discovered when they dug out this area of the medina.


Of course we had mint tea, Morocco’s national drink:


We ended the tour looking over the large cemetery, that has a wonderful sunset over the Atlantic!


Tour Hassan displays the ruins of an uncompleted mosque that was destroyed in the 1755 Lisbon earthquake. It was planned to be the second largest mosque in the world at the time, but is now just the minaret and a forest of pillars. It certainly would have been large. Beautiful horses and guards at the entrance, from the King’s stables.


It was closed, but Ali did a quick drive-by of the walls that protect Chellah, a large archeological site in Rabat, with ruins dating back to the 1st century. It looked impressive from the outside!


Moroccan pups - we have learned that in the Islam world (at least in Morocco), dogs cannot be allowed in the home as they stop the angels from coming into the house and are considered unclean. Cats are considered clean and don’t impact the angels, so are welcome. People still have dogs but they live outside, and their owners are expected to keep them fed and clean. We saw several bags of dog food outside homes and really haven’t seen too many dogs that looked unfed, but they definitely live in the street or in doorways. Isn’t Farah the sweetest!


Next stop: Chefchaouen, expresso on the way!


Posted by margofiala 20:18 Archived in Morocco

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Wow! What a different place. Istanbul is the city that is closest to some of the designs/patterns - especially the mosques- I have seen. I am curious about the key-hole shape of many of the doors in your photos. Is there a significance to this shape?

by Donna-Lynne

I am so impressed that you two seem to find the most picturesque places in the world to visit! Casablanca is gorgeous!

by Johndotbike

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