After three flights, two movies, a documentary, four glasses of wine and a trip on a kick ass mini golf cart to get to the next airport terminal, we arrived in Casablanca, the city hub of Morocco.
As some of you know, I am on holiday as of Friday! I’ve wanted to go to these two places for years now, and here we are – Morocco and Spain for two weeks.
The first night of our trip was spent in Casablanca before catching a flight to Barcelona. We arrived exhausted and in need of a long shower and once our post-flight ducks were in a row, we set off to explore the city!
Casablanca, we soon learnt, is a strangely almost dilapidated city yet with it’s own charm. For instance, after a stretch of dirty roads with dried up cockroaches every few metres (ok, so it’s a hot city!) you’ll find a beautiful sight like a fresh produce market or bougainvillea-ridden tiny cobble road.
After exploring we soon realised the city comes alive in the evenings and during day, the streets almost seemed abandoned besides for the few sets of Parisian coffee shops or Salon De Thés (tea is like coffee in Morocco) – which interestingly were 99% occupied by men.
We first went to see the tallest mosque in the world, the Hassan II Mosque that was one of the most beautiful buildings I have ever laid eyes on – definitely a must when visiting the city. Scattered with typical Moroccan tiles in blues, turquoises and oranges and made from marble and concrete, the mosque can fit 10 prayers.
We stopped at the Sacré-Cœur de Casablanca, a pristine looking cathedral surrounded by lush palm trees, and then set off to find a restaurant we had been recommended – and got terribly lost wandering the streets. Interesting fact: I suggest you brush up on your Français when visiting the city as next to no one speaks English!
After being “lost”, which was great really as this way we saw the real core of the city, we stopped at Mood Cafe for lunch.
In the afternoon we decided to try out a Hammam, which is the traditional marble steam room prevalent in Moroccan culture. Our hotel recommended Hammam Ziani and off we went! Ok, so actually Brett was super hesitant about going and we also had dinner straight after but after persuading him on how interesting of an experience this could be (plus, how wet could we really get?), off we went And, it sure was an experience!
We opted for the massage, to cure our plane seat ridden bodies, and the desk lady kindly showed us different ways – boys and girls do not enjoy the hamman experience together and in typical Moroccan tradition – it’s a great catch up for the ladies and a place where they feel 100% comfortable with their girlfriends.
I was told to undress with and to only keep my bottoms on (I was prepared for this and brought my bikini bottoms) and then taken into what’s best described as an underground steamed compound made entirely of marble, fascinating and nothing I’d ever seen before. I was clearly the only non-local and there were about 12 other Moroccan ladies who chatted and laughed in the steam.
I then was the spectator to three body scrubs where I had a full frontal view – I won’t go into too much detail here but let’s just say this was quite a sight.
After a masseuse became available she took me too another room, sprayed down a bed with water (by this time I was dripping wet because of the intense steam) and was told to lie down as she began to oil me up. During the thirty-minute massage – where she massaged every inch of my body – and I mean every inch, the celling dripped on me every now and then from the condensation and the lady who massaged me had a bad cough. My inner-hygiene freak had to be given a 5 minute pep talk when I thought of the person who’d been on the bed before me’s sweat that I was inevitably lying on and let’s just say I survived the experience. I do recommend this as it’s nothing you’ve ever experienced before.
For dinner we went to Al-Mounia, a local restaurant, with the cutest, quaint lantern-lit courtyard where we had Moroccan beer, chicken couscous (average) and lamb tajine with plums (highly recommended!).
We then waked the quite gone crazy bustling streets that had literally woken up and gave meaning to the term ‘like night and day’, shopped and had ice cream (standard). A bonus was that the locals don’t haggle you when browsing at the market goods – although I’ve heard this is a real problem in Marrakech where we’re go to after Spain. Either way, I’ll let you know 😉