Posted by: Gary Guertin | November 16, 2011

7. Atlantic/N. Africa/W. Med. Cruise – Port #6 Casablanca, Morocco

Hi All,

I finished Lanzarote this afternoon after we visited Casablanca and as we pull away from the pier this evening, Sunday, Nov. 13, 2011, I’m starting Casablanca (surprise I’m catching up).

Casablanca is a major industrial and commercial center for the kingdom of Morocco.  It says in the write ups that the city has 3.5 million people, but the taxi driver and other Moroccans said it now has between 6 and 7 million.  Destroyed by Portuguese forces in 1468 because of its reputation for harboring pirates, it came to be known as Casa Branca (white house) at the beginning of the second Portuguese occupation in 1515.  The Muslim invasion of the area in the 7th century converted the local Berber tribes to Islam, still the official religion today.  Backed by the local sultans Casablanca became the center of operation for the Barbary Coast pirates in the 15th century, thus the Portuguese raids.  Today it is a Kingdom, with a King, who’s Casablanca house (he has a house in all the metropolitan areas of Morocco) we passed by on our tour of the city.

Now the pier view of Casablanca is nothing.  It’s a major commercial port and that’s all you see:

IMG_3380 Stitch

No port sign so I’ll use the ships”

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Today we were lucky to find a couple who wanted to see and do the same things as us in Casablanca.  We met and left the ship to find a taxi, but of coarse Susy and our friend Barbara couldn’t wait for the markets:

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We got by this first hurdle and set off to get a taxi to take us to the “Hassan II Mosque”, world’s second largest mosque.  What we found instead was a group of Moroccan taxi drivers who wanted to barter for taking us on a tour for a few hours.  Susy, Ron, and Barbara got into an intense bargaining session, and one driver even offered Ron fifty camels for his lovely wife, Barbara.  (SUSY LOVERS TAKE NOTE) I didn’t know at the time, as we joked about it all day, but Susy said her only disappointment of the day was they didn’t offer me any camels for her. Oh, and to top it off the taxi driver we chose was a young bachelor who insisted on calling Susy “Mama”.  No camels and Mama was too much for Susy in one day.  Anyway after a lot of haggling we final chose a cab and went off to do our three spots; the Mosque, the city bazar (called the Souq), and lastly Rick’s Café (supposedly a replica of the café owned by Humphrey Bogart in the movie Casablanca).  

First we visited the Mosque, which as I said is the second largest in the world to Mecca.  The mosque itself is 20,000 sq. meters, holds 25,000 people, and has a retractable roof.  It has a 689 foot minaret (tower) which is the world’s tallest. It took 30,000 workers six years to build it.  The outdoor patio is enormous as you will see from these picture:

IMG_3406 Stitch

You’ll get a better perspective with the next photos, but what you see above is a large building on the left on the entrance to the Mosque patio.  The Mosque is way back on the right.  Our gang, Barbara, Ron, and Susy, in front of the Mosque and the outdoor patio:

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The Mosque in full view:

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Now to show how large the patio is let’s look back at the entrance we came in with Susy and Barbara coming up to the Mosque:

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We didn’t go into the Mosque because it took over an hour to wait for an English speaking tour and to take the tour.  We had contracted the taxi for a little more than two hours, so we just didn’t have the time.

We left the Mosque and drove to the main beach area (Barbara and Ron, who are from New York City said it looked like Coney Island)  On the other side of the beach were many night clubs and café’s like this one you’ll all recognize:

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We also visited the “well off” area where houses ran 3.5 million dollars and up.  All were surrounded by walls, similar to many cities, like Buenos Aires’s Martinez area:

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Barbara and Susy couldn’t wait for our next stop which was the Souq or central market.  Should there be any doubt, here they are hard at work at their favorite past time:

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Barbara got a beautiful gown like the ones you see above for $40.00, when the owner started asking $150.00.  Susy kicked herself for not buying one, but just couldn’t think of when she could wear it in Florida.  The Souq:

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Ron waiting patiently?

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How about this women’s dress:

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That was basically it for the day except I’m sure you can’t wait to see the famous replica of “Rick’s Café” from the movie “Casablanca” with Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman.  Well, I can’t tell you what a disappointment it was for us.  First of all it was a very small café, just one room and a bar.  Second of all, it had a small baby gran piano, instead of an old upright and certainly no Dooley Wilson playing (no one was playing).  Here’s a quick look at the front (which doesn’t look the same as the movie) and a shot inside:

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We walked in after a hard day, wanting at least to have a beer, but when they said it was 9 euros for just one beer (about $13.50), we said no thanks and walked out.

That’s it for Casablanca.  The city with the image of intrigue, corruption, and, of course, romance, was for us a port to visit once and that’s it.  We covered the Mosque, the Market, and Rick’s, the three big “to sees”, so what else is there?  If we’re ever back in the area, we want to see “Marrakech”, which is a four hour bus ride from Casablanca (8 hours on a bus is to much for Susy and I), but everyone (especially Dick Stevens) says is a must to visit.

Next stop Gibraltar, gateway to the Mediterranean, until then,

Love You All,

Gary (Gagu)


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