When we arrived in Morocco last Saturday, it wasn’t exactly the sexy image you might expect to see:
But I’d venture to say that all 900 of us aboard the M/V Explorer were so happy to see land after an eight-day Atlantic crossing that any sign of stationary life was a happy sight.
The nice thing about the Port of Casablanca is that just beyond its boundaries, the city begins—unlike the majority of port cities we’ll be visiting.
I had to work at the ship those first two mornings at port, so SVV and I stuck around Casablanca and went on Semester at Sea’s city orientation excursion when I was done on Saturday afternoon.
We also brought along a friend from the United States, Violet, who will be appearing in photos from time to time with her partner-in-crime Trixie, who opted to stay on the ship at this stop.
(Back story: My dad’s everything-man’s nine-year-old daughter came by the house before we left and asked us to take Violet and Trixie around the world with us. She wants to do a video of their travels at the end of our voyage, and even made them a suitcase and passports. Adorable. Who am I to say no to that?)
Most people we know who arrive in Morocco via Casa head straight for the train station as soon as they step foot in Casablanca to visit Fes, Marrakech, Rabat or practically any other Moroccan city instead.
It’s true: Casablanca isn’t the most beautiful of cities—in fact, SVV described it as “Detroit circa 1992″—but rather, it’s industrial and quite gritty.
But the city orientation through Semester at Sea was interesting and offered a solid introduction to Moroccan culture and history.
Before you ask, no, we did not go to the famous cafe from the eponymous movie. We did, however, head out to Corniche where all the wealthy folk live.
Which was further evidenced by the fact that our bill rang up to $12 for two Cokes and a water once we made a pit stop at a seaside cafe for energy-providing substance.
Without a doubt, the most beautiful part of the city is just down the way from Corniche, where the famed mosque guards over the Atlantic Ocean.
On any given day, thousands of mosque-goers and tourists alike mill about in the plaza in front of the building.
The mosque is 689 feet tall and can accommodate a whopping 105,000 worshipers. It’s pretty modern, too, with a heated floor, electric doors, and a sliding roof; there’s even a laser at the top of the minaret that can be seen for 18 miles!
At first, I was hesitant to go snap-happy at such a holy place, but when I saw many Muslim families climbing into the fountain for pictures, I didn’t feel as bad.
After all, if you can’t beat them, join them.
We also stopped by a Roman Catholic church on the way with the most impressive collection of stained glass I’ve ever seen in my life.
Casablanca is one of those “been there, done that” cities—the majority of SAS participants immediately took off for more exotic locales, which was definitely a smart idea—but at least now I can say I’ve seen it.
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