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Morocco

Casablanca Mosque

Morocco 2015

large_1297706_14704205284064.jpgThis is our last day in Morocco, we leave the pittoresque town of Essaouira [Essaouira-travel-guide-1079514] behind to go to the big city of Casablanca [Casablanca-travel-guide-1076970]. A 4,5 hours drive. Most of us are tired of these long drives so it's mostly reading a book or trying to get some sleep, not very exciting at all.

Due to the festival a lot of stores and restaurants are still closed so at lunch time we had to drive around a bit until we found somethng. A fast food fish restaurant, nothing like the places we've eaten the rest of our time in Morocco. Our driver didn't think it was suitable and wanted to go look for someplace else but hey, we're hungry and we don't care the cheap plastic seats! So fast food fish it was! The owner didn't know what happened to him, stress, too many people, some of the orders got mixed up, I had to point out they gave me too much change, but it all turned out alright.large_1297706_14704205877060.jpg

We arrived in Casablanca late midday and first visited the Hassan II mosque. We weren't allowed to take a look inside, there are tours but they are early morning so we had to do with 'only' the exterior. The building is huge! You can see it from far but somehow it doesn't look that big from a distance. But if you get close you'll find it's really really big!The square in front is also huge and at special occasions this also fills up with people joining the holy service, that's a lot of people! But today only a couple of nosy tourists.

We walk around for about half an hour, being amazed. Then it's back in the bus, on to the hotel. In the afternoon some of our group go for some last minute souvenir shopping, not me. The ones left behind (including me) go for a small walk and a tea on a terrace, and we have dinner in the hotel restaurant.large_1297706_14704206044081.jpg

The next morning my roommate gets up early, I think. It turns out my phone has the wrong time for Casablanca (thanks Samsung!) Here we have another reason for sharing a room! I just got up, took a shower and almost forgot about it until we were waiting to go to the airport. Ilona was late, turned out she also has a Samsung phone and it also gave the wrong time. Mohammed went and knocked on her door and she hurried to get in to the bus. Turned out we still had some time to spare so nothings lost.

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Posted by Stefmuts 03:27 Archived in Morocco Tagged culture city sightseeing Comments (0)

Essaouira the idyllic coastal town

Morocco 2015


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large_1297706_14702527164468.jpgAfter breakfast we walk to the old town of Essaouira [Essaouira-travel-guide-1079514] (our hotel is situated in the 'new' part of town). At the town gate our group plits in to two, half go shopping, me and four others go and take a look in the harbour. It's a nice small fishing harbour with lots of small blue boats (and some yellow) and also a couple bigger fishing trawlers. On the end of the harbour area is a restaurant called 'Chez Sam', it's closed this early but me and Cynthia want to try and have dinner there tonight. The others don't like the idea very much because the building looks a bit shabby, I peeked through the window and the inside looks nice and tidy to me.

We walk to the town gate, a real fortification complete with the big cannonry on the wall.large_1297706_14702527595826.jpg After a small walk on top of the wall the group splits up again, three go have lunch somewhere. Cynthia and I are not hungry yet so we go on exploring the town.

Prayer service in the mosk is done and there are a lot more people in the streets, we see a medicine man trying to sell his special ointments,I think he has something for every ailment. We walk through some narrow streets untill we come to the old jewish section (Mellah) A big part on the outside, near the city wall is weathered, collapsed, burned and partially demolished. It's a pity to see it like this but I think they will rebuild this part in time. It's probably caused by the residents leaving and nobody taking care of the houses.

We walk around the old town some more, drank some tea then went to the beach area for a nice cold beer (finaly!) Then back to the hotel for a bit.

Later that evening Cynthia and I went back to Chez Sam for dinner. The restaurant is open and almost full, we managed to get a table but it would have been better tomake reservations as many others did. Most tables have the reserved sign on them. The inside looks very nice, not shabby at all, actually quite chic. We had a lovely dinner. No disco tonight (or gnawa) we are pretty tired so straight back to the hotel.

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Posted by Stefmuts 03:21 Archived in Morocco Tagged culture sightseeing nice_town Comments (0)

Silence of the lambs on our way to Essaouira

Morocco 2015


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large_1297706_1469644284678.jpgToday is the start of Eid Al-Adha and today lambs will be slaughtered in honor of the festival. The hotel did offer us a breakfast but I'm sure they closed the door right behind us to go and celebrate with their family. We on the other hand have a long roadtrip to look foreward to. One plus-point of driving during a festival is: we're the only ones on the road. After driving for an hour we see theprayer services on the hillsides, looks impressive! A bit later the mass is done and our bus has to drive very slow due to many people walking on the road. Yet a bit later the road is empty again.

As was told everything is closed, even gas stations so a pit stop turned out to be quite an adventure. Our driver did find us a toilet but not of the luxurious kind.large_1297706_14696442882297.jpgCurious tourists (me too btw)Everyone went anyway. We got to Essaouira [Essaouira-travel-guide-1079514] way before scedule, not so strange beiing the only one on the road most of the time. We checked in to our hotel and then went to check out the beach. I shared my lunch with Cynthia, she bought the can of tuna, I bought the drinks and we both had bread. We discovered the beach of Essaouira isn't the best place to have lunch; it's a windy place so we had bread with tuna and sand.

Nice thing about a festival like this is to be able to see the village Essaouira without all the souvenirs stuck to every bit of wall. Most shops are closed (not all) and the narrow streets look pitoresque with the nice woodwork shutters and doors you won't be able to see when the shops are open.large_1297706_14696443637370.jpg The preparing of the sheeps heads by burning them is interesting to me but might be a cruel picture to others. On several places in town the man are burning and scratching the scin of the heads so they can be prepared to eat later.

To our luck not everything is closed so we can have dinner in a restaurant although it's a more expensive one as we are getting used to (prizes still well below Belgian standard so why am I complaining?) The setting is very nice and we can enjoy the seaside sunset from the terrace. Essaouira looks almost like a French mediterranean town instead of a Moroccan town, guess the French influence is very clear here

After dinner I went to a small bar with Cynthia and Ilona to enjoy some traditional Gnawa music. We saw the sign as we were going to the restaurant and decided it would be a nice thing to end the day with. Finding the right bar was a bit more difficult but we found it in the end. A 3 men Gnawa band was playing the traditional music and we sat and had a drink or two before we had enough culture for the evening and went back to the hotel.

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Posted by Stefmuts 05:15 Archived in Morocco Tagged culture festival sightseeing Comments (0)

Exploring Taroudannt

Morocco 2015


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large_1297706_14696432931810.jpgWe had a full day to go and explore Taroudannt for ourselves. I hooked up with four group members and we started walking to the famous city wall. It's actually really close to the hotel. We walk along the outside of the wall untill we get to the next gate. Here we can go up on the wall and we do except for Cynthia who still has problems with her knee and doesn't want to make it worse by going up the stairs. On top of the wall you have a nice view of the area, but it could have been nicer if there not was a sort of garbage dumpside nearby. We walked a bit, took some pictures of eachother to have proof we've been there and meanwile Cythia was sitting on a bench in the shade. We joined her for a bit and then we started walking in the old part of town. We just started walking, left turn, right turn, nowhere in particular.large_1297706_14696433636880.jpg we ended up in a residential area with the laundry outsideand the local children following us. We had some fun with them, took some pictures then we tried to send them home. They woudn't listen to us (I'm pretty sure they understood though) but some local guy helped us out by telling them to leave us alone and go home. Everything with a friendly smile though.

We walked until we reached another gate in the wall and went outside the old town again. Getting thirsty we looked out for a restaurant or bar. We came past Hotel Palais Salam, might have been a nice place to have a drink but it seems the personel is on strike because they didn't get paid for some time. They were having a break from demonstrating but left their banners at the entrance. We decided this might not be the right place at least not for now.

We walked on along the city wall untill yet another gate. Here a restaurant and it seemed to be open, turned out there was one guy looking after the place for the owner who already left town for the upcoming festival. Kitchen closed but drinks he could do. There was a huge language barrier but he tried his best to keep the conversation going and so did we.

This evening we had to go shopping for a lunch for tomorrow, due to the festival we won't be able to have lunch anywhere on the way to Essaouira [Essaouira-travel-guide-1079514]

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Posted by Stefmuts 04:14 Archived in Morocco Tagged culture ruins castle sightseeing Comments (0)

The hills have eyes and saffron

Morocco 2015


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large_1297706_14596783932568.jpgAfter a lovely breakfast at the pool side we were off to Taroudant. Well on our way, we passed the film set of the hills have eyes (an American Horror movie). We had already passed but made the driver turn around to take a closer look.

Two man are guarding the set and for a few coins we can look around all we want. Not everything is from the one movie, some egyptian stuff got mixed in there as well (?) We just couldn't help ourselves and just had to fool around getting in, on and touching stuff, but aapparently thats ok. The set is maybe even scarier than the movie. Back home I watched the movie again to see if I can make out the stuff on the set and I must say it's not really a great movie even for a horror story. Our guide found a big gun in the store so we all went in there to see what else was there.large_1297706_14596784099645.jpg I wouldn't buy anything there though!

Next is a viewing point. Since today is mostly sitting in the bus we are just glad to get out, view or no view. We have tea in a small town with a big market. Not the normal market but especially for the upcoming festival ( Id al-Adha - sept 24 ) We have seen people carrying sheep all week already. It's really crowded and mostly food they sell here.

After another few hours in the bus we stop at a saffron farm. Not much safron growing at the moment but we get to taste safron tea and we can buy some. I think it makes a nice souvenir so I buy some.

Lunch in a tent with typical moroccan music (sadly not live played) and a nice view. And later on a short stop for goats in a tree (argan tree) We are really bushed when we finally arrived in Taroudant. We had to find a restaurant on our own tonight, our guide set us free in the souk. Wasn't that easy though, lots of places already closed for the festival but we managed to find a pizza place and a supermarket for some drinks and snacks which we consumed on the roof terrace of the hotel. We had to bring our own stuff because the terrace and bar are kind of abandoned so we had to make our own party.

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Posted by Stefmuts 22:48 Archived in Morocco Tagged mountains desert nature movies hiils Comments (0)

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