Sunday 10 December 2023

Saying Goodbye to Jo

Our first full day in Rabat and we went off exploring. Jo was going to be with us for another couple of days so we decided to spend one day exploring Rabat and the next, travel to Casablanca by train, have a day exploring and stay overnight. Jo would then fly back to England from Casablanca and we would take the train back to Rabat.

As the marina is actually in the town of Sale, we had to cross the river to get to Rabat. Linked by road, bus and tram, there is no shortage of means of transport. Clean and modern, the buses and trams are extremely efficient, running every 20 minutes and are extremely cheap (60p for a one way journey anywhere from Sale to Rabat).

We spent most of our time on the first visit to Rabat exploring and getting our bearings. But, no visit would be complete without wandering through the narrow streets of the souk, absorbing the sounds of people bartering, the sights of all the brightly coloured clothes, materials and jewels and the smell from the food and the spices the street vendors were selling.

Down at the waterfront of Rabat, it was coming to life as locals and tourists strolled along the promenade for their evening walk. What struck Jo and I the most though were the brightly lit children's cars, which came in all types of guises and were available for adults to ride in as well. We resisted!

On our return to Sale we decided to take one of the water taxis. The taxis are very basic wooden boats that are rowed across the river. You can either share a water taxi or have one exclusively for yourselves. We chose to share one, which was a great experience and cost 30p each!

Back in Sale, as the sun was setting, we were able to appreciate the stunning views of Rabat and reflect on how lucky we were to be in such a gorgeous location after passing it by on our way to Mohammadia.


Next day we were up and out early to catch the train to Casablanca.  Based on all the narative and hype and because of  THE famous film, we were all excited to visit this historical city.  Mark had sailed past previously when sailing with a friend from Spain to the Canaries and had seen the famous Hassan II Mosque from the sea so was keen to see it from land.

Arriving in Casablanca was like arriving in an upmarket Mohammadia.  It was hot, it was loud, it was hectic and it was dirty. We walked from the train station to our hotel, which in fairness was a really nice hotel with very friendly staff in a fairly nice area, but to get to it was a 20 minute walk on the outskirts of the souk next to the port.  Not a very salubrious area and a souk that we definitely didn't want to explore.

Not to be deterred, we dropped our bags and headed to the Hassan II Mosque.  What a beauty! For me, this alone was worth the journey to Casablanca.

Hassan II Mosque

Set on an outcrop jutting out over the Atlantic Ocean, with a 210 meter minaret it is a work of art. Completed in 1993 it showcases some of the finest craftmanship I have seen. Hand-carved stone and wood, intricate marble flooring and inlay, gilded cedar ceilings and gorgeous mosaic tilework.  It has the capacity to hold 105,000 worshippers - 25,000 inside and the rest in the outside courtyards.

The other place I was particularly looking forward to visiting was Rick's Café.  Opened in 2004, the café was designed to recreate the bar made famous in THE classic movie Casablanca.  Offering fine dining or simply cocktails, I thought it would be rather nice to visit.  What a disappointment. A run down shabby looking building with a taxi rank in front of it and bouncers on the door.  As we hadn't made a reservation, even for a drink, we were refused entry.  Oh well, some you win, some you loose!

We headed back to our hotel and had a quick siesta before heading out to dinner at a little Lebanese restaurant where the food was absolutely delicious and the portions very generous.

Next day we said our goodbyes to Jo as her adventure had come to an end. As we climbed aboard the train to Rabat, we wondered what this city would hold for us over the next 4 weeks.

No comments:

Post a Comment