“Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine…”
Casablanca was my first destination as a solo female traveller and stepping off that plane was a hugely liberating step for me. In my dreams Casablanca had such a romantic feel to it, largely due to the hugely popular film of the same name which has frequently been touted as one of the most romantic films of all time. I was in for a huge shock however as nowadays Casablanca is known as the largest business and economic capital of Africa.
Casablanca proved to be a big and bustling city with an exorbitant range of satellites decorating the skyline. With a population of over 3 million people in the city alone It seemed very vast and busy compared to little old Adelaide!
WHAT I DID
Hassan II Mosque
Definitely a MUST SEE in Casablanca, this mosque is absolutely amazing. Situated on a promontory on the Atlantic Ocean it is the third largest mosque in the world, hosting an impressive 25,000 people inside and further 80,000 in the outer squares. It is believed to have cost over 80 million dollars to construct. I was told it takes 200 people every single day of the year to clean the mosque! It’s amazing beauty is a stark contrast to many of the streets in Casablanca’s older quarters and it has some very fancy additions such as laser beams that point the way to Mecca, heated floors and a floor made from glass so worshippers can kneel over the ocean. I recommend taking an easily organised guided tour of the interior to get the full experience.
HOW I GOT AROUND
Walking the streets and getting myself lost is one of my favourite ways to explore new cities. Casablanca has a fascinating mix of old style buildings nestled in a complex framework of tiny streets set against the stark comparison of high-rise buildings in the new districts. I took taxis to get around here as I was still finding my feet within this fascinating culture.
WHAT I ATE AND DRANK
MOROCCAN TEA RITUAL
Indulging in mint tea, the ‘Berber Whisky’ of Morocco is a way of life. Brewing the loose green tea leaves combined with fresh mint and sugar cubes is a huge cultural tradition. There is always a pot on the burner and shopkeepers will regularly entice you into their store by offering you a glass which you simply cannot refuse!
Making the tea is no simple feat, it involves so much more than just popping the kettle on. A silver kettle is used to boil and steep the green tea leaves and fresh mint, however it is the pouring ritual that is so important to get right. The tea is poured from kettle into small handle-less glasses from a great height and in a rapid stream. It is said that the tea must be poured high enough to create a froth on the top, no froth and tea is bad and should be re-done. The first cup is often poured to halve level and then the second cup discarded in the belief that it removes the toxins. Often you will find the tea poured back into the pot and re-poured a few times before it is deemed suitable to drink and this is a way of removing the initial bitterness of the first few cups and circulating the flavours. The tea is immensely sweet with sugar cubes served with each glass, although not great for my sugar free diet, it certainly gave me a buzz! There are many ways to complete this tea ritual and different reasonings behind such practices depending on the part of Morocco you are in. You will be bound to experience many different ways as saying no is simply not an option!
Ensure to respect the Moroccan way of presenting yourself and dressing by wearing modest clothing covering at least knees and shoulders. No plunging necklines, figure-hugging clothes or backless dresses here! There are so many beautiful ways to dress without revealing too much skin and many of the women of Morocco are excellent examples of stunning fashion in a modest style. Covering heads and hair is not required, however being blonde will likely attract lots of stares as it is simply not commonly seen.
PS. Are you thinking of going to Casablanca? Have questions? Ask us in the comments section below.
Have you been to Casablanca? We would love to hear your travel stories also!