Day 7 |
Apr 24, 2010

Casablanca, Morocco

By Stefan Kredel, Geologist

Co-ordinates:  33°36’N, 07°36’W

Weather: mainly sunny

Air Temperature: 21°C

Casablanca, Morocco! We had arrived on the African continent. A lot of our guests were already on the outer decks when I got there at about 06:00. And it was worth to get up a bit earlier today (especially after getting an extra hour’s sleep last night due to the time difference between Madeira and Morocco). On our approach we could see already in the first daylight the silhouette of Casablanca. Even though it didn’t look as romantic as in THE movie with good old Humphrey, it was a quite spectacular view.

After we were alongside, I went for breakfast and then soon after that, I joined the half-day tour. Guests were also offered a full-day tour to Rabat. Punctually at 09:30, we left the pier and our local guide started with a joke. As the joke was actually very funny, I have to assume that she has somewhere German roots in her! She was a very knowledgeable, interesting and entertaining guide, and so my life was easy, as I had just to follow her and her explanations and make sure we didn’t lose any of our guests at the different stops we made.

Our first stop was the huge mosque, called Hassan II Mosque. It was built between 1987 and 1993 and it is very impressive, by size as by details. It is said that it took 50.000.000 (50 million!) man-hours to build! We spend quite a portion of time in and around the mosque and I have to admit that it impressed me a lot!

We then saw quite some different areas of Casablanca as we drove through the city, and our guide gave explanation and some background information. Casablanca is meant to be the third biggest harbor within Africa, after Durban and Alexandria, with a population of about 5 million inhabitants. It is a busy city (even though today was weekend), and there is no real old architecture around. One of the main reasons for this was the heavy earthquake in Lisbon in the late 18th century, which destroyed also here more or less everything.

We saw the palace of the king of Saudi Arabia, and our guide said that there is a subway from the palace to his private beach!!! I have to admit that this impressed me a bit! We also walked a bit through one of the older parts of town and were told that the life of Moslems (by far the majority), Christians and Jews next to each other works here without any problems.

At the end of the tour, we made a stop at the local market and were able to see some fresh fruits, vegetables, meat and fish. It is always interesting to see local markets with their local products, I think. I loved the cat sitting on the stand just next to the fish, only looking … so far …

Back on board I had lunch and then went back into town with the shuttle bus, which was running the whole day for our guests. After I have been walking a bit around the local market, with all the things people need, may need and for sure don’t need, I sat down in a café next to the stop of our shuttle bus. I waited there for the last bus at 17:30 to make sure we didn’t leave anyone in town. It was interesting to follow the street life while I was sitting in the café.

Back on board, I later went to The Bar for the cocktail hour. I was talking to some guests who were on the tour to Rabat. That tour must have been also very interesting. But traveling in those places is more about seeing, learning and maybe even understanding, isn’t it. And if it is even beautiful, it is a bonus, I would say.

After another superb dinner I went early to bed, as it was a long day with a lot of new impressions.