Saturday, December 2, 2017

Quick Glimpse of Casablanca

I was going to skip Casablanca. I'd heard there wasn't a whole lot to see there, just a big busy city with nothing much to recommend it. But...but...the movie. How could anyone get this close to the city and not go? Even if, like me, you've never actually seen the damn movie.

And, even I had seen the movie, it's not like I would go on tour of shooting sites. I'm the one who forgot I had tickets to the Harry Potter studio tour, and I've seen all of those movies more times than I can count.

Also, the most famous scenes are at the end, and I wasn't going to go try to hang out near a runway at the airport. Since I'm pretty sure the bar was a movie set, that just didn't leave much reason to visit Casablanca.

What I was going to do was visit the gorgeous blue city of Chefchaouen, then the ancient city of Fez, on the way from Tangier to Marrakech.

But logistics got in the way.

Because I'm not sure I want to take a 2.5 - 3 hour bus ride up into the mountains even to see what looks like one of the loveliest towns on earth. My last bus trip was from London to Bath, about the same amount of time, and I got a bit motion sick. I just don't love buses the way that I love trains.

So I decided instead to take an overnight train from Tangier to Marrakesh, which is about 10 hours. Information online indicated that you could get a single cabin, which I have never experienced and thought I would very much enjoy. Unfortunately, online information was wrong. What a surprise.

I was not at all in a mood to spend the night in a couchette with 3 other strangers, though I've done it before. Nor was I willing to spend 10 daytime hours on a train. So I decided to split up the journey into two separate days. Magically, the journey was somehow reduced to more like 9 hours.

Still, I felt like I had to see something while I was there,
and a cursory search turned up a notable mosque located at the end of a corniche. The train from Tangier was supposed to get in around 4:30, which I thought would give me just enough time to check into my hotel near the train station, take a cab ride to the mosque for photos before the light failed, then walk along the coast at sunset.

But the train was an hour late, so it was dark by the time I checked into my hotel. Instead, I got up early to do the same thing. My train didn't leave until 12:30, and though I wouldn't get a sunset walk along the beach, it would still be nice to get in a walk before spending hours on a train.

It's a shame I managed to get what was probably the only cab driver in Casablanca who had never heard of the mosque. What should have been a 15 minute drive took over an hour.

And it looked like the entire corniche was under construction of some kind. At any rate, I didn't get my walk along the ocean.

Mosque Hassan II, Casablanca, Morocco
Non-Muslims are not allowed to enter mosques, so I could only get photos of it from the outside. 

But there was a lot more to the mosque than just the one building. 

It was a whole complex, including a museum that I could have gone into had I any extra time...which I did not, thanks to the idiot taxi driver that I even let use the Google Maps on my iPad multiple times.


My hotel was lovely, and my room comfy, but it was all a tiny bit claustrophobic. The room actually had a balcony, with sliding glass door and electric shutters that are even better than blackout curtains. 

But the sliding glass doors were frosted. So you couldn't see anything outside even when the electric shades weren't down.

I was several floors up, so I just left the door open until I was ready to go to sleep.

But it looked as though the whole hotel was like that. The windows across from the elevators were the same. And the breakfast room had no windows at all. 

Al Walid Hotel , Casablanca, Morocco
So, nice hotel, but I'm glad I didn't have to spend more than one night.

Casa Voyageurs Train Station, Casablanca, Morocco

I did like the train station. It had a cool art deco look to it, and it was called Casa Voyageurs, which I really liked.

Oh, and the day I left Tangier, a photo of Chefchaouen popped up on Instagram, making me regret my decision. But I swear, it's the same photo that shows up everywhere, so it makes me wonder if the rest of the town lives up to it. Although, even Moroccans have told me it's beautiful. And one even told me the food in Fez is fabulous.

So I may end up getting to both of them, after all. In the meantime, I'm falling behind, so hopefully I'll have Marrakesh up soon and Essaouira not long after. 

I'm currently in Paris for a few days, then off to London for a few more, trying to see the cities lit up for Christmas, which I never have before. It's one of the main reasons why I crossed the Atlantic in October.

But then I'm back to Essaouira for at least a month, maybe longer. Cheap coastal living in a  pleasant - even exotic - town with a mild climate isn't easy to come by, but Essaouira nails it.

Coming soon...


  1. You know, Becky, when we were based outside of Casablanca, we LIVED on the beach. And I understand at least one or two of our beach places are still there. And in the three years that our family lived in Morocco, we never even heard of Chefchaouen. It's only recently that friends have talked about it when they've toured Morocco. And one friend who is pretty much up-to-date on such has told me that it started painting itself blue only recently in order to attract tourists. So, there ya go. Karen (who would like to go back next year)

  2. I don't know, Karen. I walked a bit to find a taxi and then got an unasked-for tour around the city on the way to the mosque. And I have to say, I didn't find Casablanca attractive. Certainly not the way I am attracted to Marrakesh, although I tend to stay in the newer part of that city. It's not that I want to spend a lot of time exactly *on* the beach, but I like being able to walk along it and eat while looking out at the ocean.

    It's possible that I would like Casablanca better if I'd know it better, the way y'all do. But since I like both Marrakesh and Essaouira so much, and it's so easy to go back and forth between the two, I'll probably just hang out there for a while.

    Still, I really love Morocco, and it's amazingly affordable. So please let me know if you do end up getting back there at all next year, there's an excellent chance I may either be there or planning to be there, and it would be great to see it again after getting some inside info from someone who's familiar with it.

    And thanks for letting me know about Chefchaouen, I'll feel better if I end up skipping it after all, lol.

  3. "Casablanca" was filmed in the USA. Here is a link.

    1. So I made the right decision not trying to find that runway, lol.


We welcome all comments, questions, observations and requests. Oh, and when you see "No Comments', it just means there aren't any yet, not that you can't make one. Click on Post a Comment, or just type in the comment box if you see it, and tell us what you're thinking!