Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine.

Casablanca Travel Blog

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Watching the movie at Rick's.

Ah, Casablanca.  Exotic, beautiful, mysterious, Casablanca.   Mmm, more like sprawling, polluted, traffic jammed, moped dodging, Casablanca.  Yet, it does have it's charm.  For one thing, just saying "Casablanca" is really kind of cool! We arrived just like they do in the movies, debarking the plane on the tarmac and walking into the terminal.  Welcome to North Africa!  Once through customs, which was quite quick and painless, we were met by our arranged ride to the hotel.  First time I've ever had to meet someone holding up a sign for me.  I like that.  First thoughts as we drove towards the city.  It was really hot.

From balcony of hotel.
  It was really dusty and brown. There are donkeys pulling carts on the expressway!  Once in the city, it quickly became apparent that old Peuget mopeds were the way to travel here.  I so wish I could have gotten a picture of a woman wearing a djellabas and headscarf driving along on her moped.

We arrived at Hotel Salim, quickly checked in among the throngs of West Africans also staying there (they wear the most wonderfully beautiful and colorful clothing) and were soon off to check out some of the city prior to meeting our Intrepid group at 6pm.  It was suggested that we try to visit Hassan II Mosque, which though on our agenda for the next day, was going to be closed due to Ramadan celebrations.  Unfortunately we arrived too late in the afternoon to see this,  the 2nd largest mosque after Mecca and the only one open for visitation by non-muslims.

KFC delivers!
However, from what we've heard, it is quite stunning. 

Instead, it was off to the medina quarter for a little sightseeing, and unbeknownst to us at the time, shopkeeper dodging, but more on that in a bit.  First, we needed to find some lunch. During Ramadan, in which muslims fast between sunup and sundown, many of the local restaurants were closed. However, as always, KFC and McDonald's come to the western traveler's rescue.  So, my first meal in Morocco? Two piece chicken dinner with french fries and a funky biscuit.

Our hunger pains slightly abated, it was on to the medina quarter and it souks, where one can bargain for everything from shoes, scarves, djellabas, hookahs, and Iron Maiden t-shirts.  Yes, truelly.  Had the T-shirt been my size, I would have purchased it as my souvenir from Casablanca, Morocco.

McArabia!
  No purchases were made on this jaunt, but certainly not do to some aggressive salesmanship by a couple of shop owners.  Mara must have looked liked the friendier of the two of us because she was immediately set up by a man, "who has a brother who live in Boston.  USA nice.  Come to my shop.  Sell you djellaba for five dollar."  Funny, because, Mara in a djellaba is amusing in and of itself, but also because of the two of us, she is the least likely to part so impulsively with her money! So we escaped the medina without the purchase of unneeded shoes (that comes at a later date) and headed towards the port, which was a quick visit for I was getting tired and a bit of a headache from all the exhaust fumes that we had been breathing in so we head back to the hotel for a bit of rest before meeting the group at six.
in medina quarter.

After a quick introduction about the tour by our tour leader, exchange of money,  passport dilema's, and the question of what exactly should Wesley do with the marble sink he had bought earlier in the day, it was off to a lovely terraced restaurant for our first Moroccan dinner.  If memory serves, this consisted of Moroccan salad (tomatos, cucumbers, onions), chicken tajine, vegetable tajine and lots of bread.  A meal we would become very familiar with over the next two weeks.  After dinner, a group of us decided to head to "the gin joint",  Rick's Cafe, for a drink.  As a side for those who aren't already aware of this fact.  The movie was not filmed in Morocco and the cafe is a replica, albeit, a lovely replica.  Sam was unavailable and Rick and Ilsa were elsewhere.

Nice hat.
  However, I did get a lovely photo behind the outdoor terrace bar while wearing a Fes!

Speaking of our wonderful group, here's a quick introduction. Wesley and Richard, two Aussie buddies who were at the beginning of a 10 week journey through the west of Africa; their friend Lisa from England, who joined them for this portion of the trip;  Cheryl and George, married, retired Aussies and world travelers; Nindthe and Siva, a lovely Aussie couple of Sri Lanken decent; Mel, yet another Aussie traveling thru Africa on her own; Cathy, a Kiwi now living in London; Carolyn, an American (finally!) from Michigan and STA travel agent who knows my friend Chuck!  Small world! Finally Erin, our tour leader hailing also from the US of A and Michigan but now living and travelling in China mostly.    

puttyland says:
Hey, great pix and travel blog...I'll be going on an Intrepid Travel trip myself in a week and a half - now I'm REEEEEEALLY looking forward to it!! Thanks for a great read.
Posted on: Sep 01, 2010
vivapanama says:
Hello my name is jose & I currently reside in Los Angeles ca my girl friend & I are going to lizboa and then morocco I would appreciated any help like best ways of travel to or in morocco ether by train, plane or how is the currency, is it expensive in regards to accommodation,food transportation are there any land mark or sight to see i definitely want to go to casablanca other than I am lost to what could be there for us to experience, thank you for your time, your help is extremely appreciated.

Sincerely,
Posted on: Apr 14, 2008
margmack says:
Yep...I am identifying with the chaos of Casa.....agree with you about the pushy salesmen as well!!!! I am just writing my blog as I am home in Oz noiw...those pesky Australians are everywhere!. I timed my arrival in Casa on the 14th Oct..just after you in order not to be there during Ramadan....you may be interested to read my blog too! Am looking forward to reading about the rest of your trip...hope it was as exotic and adveturous as mine! Marg
Posted on: Nov 16, 2007
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Watching the movie at Ricks.
Watching the movie at Rick's.
From balcony of hotel.
From balcony of hotel.
KFC delivers!
KFC delivers!
McArabia!
McArabia!
in medina quarter.
in medina quarter.
Nice hat.
Nice hat.
Casablanca Hotels & Accommodations review
I'm not sure of the price since it was prepaid when with Intrepid Travel, but my guess is that it is a good bargain for such a large city. Though it … read entire review
Casablanca
photo by: nathanphil