2010 Morocco Tour Group Journal

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Day 01 Casablanca 08 November 2010 Monday. Submitted by Meli Seval  melitour@yahoo.com  

Carl , Joan ,Winnie , Kathy , Carolyn ,Carol, Jim
Our first group picture in front of the one of 28 fountains
of Hasan the 2nd's Mosque

Since the first time I came to Morocco 10 years ago, I have always had Haci as my guide. Unfortunately, Haci had passed away  two weeks ago. We will have a brand new guide, Rashid.  I am hoping that he will be as nice as Haci. 
A new tour is starting and I am very excited. I want every one to enjoy and fall in love with Morocco, a country that has so many wonderful things  to offer to travelers. We all met at the breakfast hall. The favorite breakfast dish was the potatoes cooked with onions. Some of us felt like we need a strong coffee either to get over the jet lag or the fatigue of our previous journeys. After this great breakfast, the group had a rendezvous to have a group meeting at 09:30 AM.
At the far corner of the bar of the hotel we met our guide Rashid and the local tour assistant, Adel. Rashid looks like a fine gentleman.


 I passed  out the tiny Turkish Carpet designed bags and asked the group to use them as MELITOUR bag  tags. Since I have toured with  every one on the tour before , I know that this is going to be a wonderful two weeks. At 10:30 we left the Ramada Hotel. Casablanca here we come! Our first stop was  Hasan the 2nd's Mosque, the biggest mosque of Africa. 30.000 people had worked for 7 years and finished the mosque with a  perfection. The foundation of the building is in the Atlantic Ocean. the closest building to the mosque is the light house 2 miles away from the mosque on the wonderful beach. The warm colors of the pinkish-yellow stone  and green marble framing the most intricate mosaics made of tile and solid gold creates an exquisite exterior.

Winnie is soaking in the sun as usual!

When we found a shady spot where we could sit until the gates were opened for the visitors. Some locals were waiting to go in too. I saw a family of four walking towards us. They did not want me to take their family picture but they kindly allowed me to take the pattern  embroidered  on the jalaba of the mother. Having been to Turkey before and knowing about the evil eye charm, every one in the group except Kathy knew that she was now well protected. The weather was perfect. The high clouds were making a nice thin shield over the sun. though we had the nice light of the sun, the warmth was at the desired temperature. Finally at 11.00 AM the big bronze door opened and we were now allowed to walk in to the huge mosque.

The first impression of  the mosque is that every thing is glowing. The immaculately polished marble floor was reflecting the shadow of the granite pillars. The imperial bronze gate was reminding every one that once you are a king, even in the house of God you will be more equal than the others.
The two sides of the grand central  hall , there were huge hanging balconies  allocated for the women worshipers .  The little "creek"" created in the middle of the mosque was used only when the imperial family was at the mosque. Every for of craft had its best example displayed in this mosque.

While the birds were watching us from their 'golden' homes, we descended to the ablution section of the mosque. Forest of columns and lotus like fountains were scattered around the huge basement. At one time, we were told, five thousand people could have ablution.

 After a short drive along the Atlantic ocean, we passed by the shore where the U.S. marines had landed Morocco in the 2nd World War.
At a sea side hotel, we had fresh fish lunch. When the huge platter of fresh fried fish was served at one second four cameras were taking the picture of our feast. We are already finding out that Morocco is the country of aesthetics. the windows of this little restaurant were decorated in the most  beautiful floral patterns.  There is  art  every where. At lunch Meli's garlic was very popular!!

Our next stop was the Virgin Mary's Cathedral completed in 1959, after the French had left the country.
The stained glass windows and the little grotto in the garden was found very spiritual . The Catholics in the group wished they could attend a service here.

As we were driving in a very congested avenue, we saw a flower market in one of the side streets.  After a quick U-turn we found our selves in the flower market. The shop keepers were very nice and generous.  We were all given a rose and some of us even got warm hugs.

In the afternoon  we visit  the old court house to see a very typical Moroccan architecture. The court yard reminded us of the caravanserais on the Silk Road.
The olive market had endless colors of olives and lemon preserves.  Jim chopped parsley.

Before we got to the hotel, we stopped for a mint tea. The little pot holder with a fez was very popular!

When in Casablanca certainly a dinner at Rick's Cafe is a must!
Great ambiance, Superb dinner!!
Early departure tomorrow

                                                                                                                                                                                Click here for Day 02   Rabat
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