To Casablanca or not to Casablanca, that was the question.
With 10 days to get from Rabat to Marrakesh and no plans, I had a big decision to make as our group headed in two different directions. Should I go north to very traditional Fez with its UNESCO medina and then to ride camels in the desert? Or go south to Casablanca – not very popular with tourists due to its fame of being a business hub rather than a cultural showcase – where I’d have the chance to spend time with Moroccans, visiting their houses and meeting their families? Obviously, I chose the option which would get me an inside view of Moroccan life and would leave me celebrating Christmas at a party with the locals, even if they don’t celebrate Christmas. Those camels can wait.
Casablanca isn’t beautiful, not at first sight anyway. The medina is said to be dodgy and while we felt safe, it certainly wasn’t a sight for sore eyes. Getting out of the medina was what really gave us a good impression of Casablanca. We headed out to the Grande Mosquée Hassan II and I immediately understood why Moroccans are so proud of this mosque. Right by the sea, we admired this imposing structure all the while trying not to get blown away by the wind battering the coast.
We also got out far of the medina and into the local markets. I am an olive fiend at the best of times, but here I went a little crazy and left with far more than I could eat in my remaining time in Morocco.
Choosing Casablanca also meant eating breakfast with a view like this. And then running down and playing in the cold Atlantic Ocean on Christmas Eve – if it had been a little warmer, it would have almost been like a New Zealand Christmas.
So did I make the right decision? Absolutely. And would I recommend Casablanca? Yes, but get out of the centre, visit the mosque and head south along the coast to see the Casablanca of the locals.