“If that plane leaves the ground and you’re not with him, you’ll regret it. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life.”
Lately I’ve been so stressed with the things that’s going on with my life.Here i am finding myself looking for a reasonable price online to go for a vacation outside of the country. The next time i knew, im already packing my things and ready to go. I got excited at the same time scared.I really don’t make plans on where and what to see.My flight was at 6:30. I took nap after i packed my things. I need to leave the apartment at 3:00am because my place is 45 minutes away the airport.I had almost 11 hours flight, 45 minutes going to Doha, Qatar, 2 hours lay over and another 8 hours going to my destination.Red eye flight always leaves me grumpy and moody.I finally arrived in Casablanca after a very long flight.I was already in love with the place just by having the birds eye view.The place was greeny and i can see the High Atlas mountain which i really wanted to climb.The airport was small and what caught eye was that all the signs was all in french or in arabic. There’s no english translation. So i was looking for a taxi that will take me to my hotel. I already have some warnings from the people online that i should learn to negotiate first before jumping in the taxi.To my surprise the people in Morocco don’t speak english that much.Me, who can speak only one language hoping that they can speak the language as well as i was not informed that the vast majority doesn’t speak english.I felt stupid and frustrated but that did not stop from exploring the city.
On my first night i decided to go to Rick’s cafe to have dinner.As you know that a certain percentage of people visit Casablanca because of the movie. I am one of those people, even if the movie was not filmed in Morocco itself but was filmed somewhere in Latin America. Majority of the scenes in the movie were set in the saloon keeper’s cafe. Hence, Rick’s Cafe. I dilly-dallied myself into a petit taxi ( red small taxi ) and instructed my driver to go to Rick’s Cafe. After 40mad and sitting traffic for 20 minutes i was there infront of Rick’s Cafe. Staring up and reading the signage. It was not a fancy neon lighted sign.It had this eerie feeling of the 1940’s. I arrived and asked for a table but to my dismay you need to have a reservation to get a table for dinner. So i decided to have a drink in the bar and left and asked to reserve a table for me the day after tomorrow.I left the place and went to Place Nations Unies.It’s the downtown of Casablanca.You can have good finds around the area.After a few minutes of checking the place i left as i still need to catch the first train to Marrakech the next day which is at 6:40.
The hotel that im staying which is Hotel Imperial is just a walking distance from the tram station.Th hotel is really accessible to everything.Th only downside about it was the staff does not speak english and the washroom floor had no drainage on it. So when i woke up the next day and immediately went to the bathroom to take shower.I was surprised to what i saw.My bathroom was flooding! So i took a shower and approached the reception and explained to them what happened and went straight to catch my train. I didnt catch the train as i was late for 5 minutes and there’s a very long que in the ticketing area.I booked the first class which cost me 140mad.I want to relax as it is a 3 hours ride from Casablanca and you don’t need to share with a lot of people like in the economy.
I finally arrived in Marrakech and trying to look for a money changer for i ran out of MAD.I spent almost an hour in Gare looking for a money changer and trying to get hold of the person where i booked my activity in high atlas mountain.
After running to the money changer, I was finally back to Gare de Marrakech (Train Station) to wait for my guide to the High Atlas. Since my booking was of short notice, a cab was waiting for me to be taken to the High Atlas for my grade-1 trek. As I was sitting in the cab and feeling the warm breeze on my hair, I saw this beautiful image of the mountains. I only see these images in bottled water labels. It was the sight of a white and snowy mountain behind brown-green mountains. I was astounded by how a mountain can have a separate climate as the ones in front of it. Moving forward, if you are the type that is meticulous about their skin. You might have heard of Argan Oil. Argan Oil is a plant oil produced from the kernels of the argan tree (Argania spinosa L.) that is endemic to Morocco. I was lucky enough to have a cabbie (despite of the communication gap) that suggested for us to stop at a store that sells pure Argan oil. I stopped in a Women’s Cooperative that is processing and selling pure Argan oil products. Without any hesitation, I bought 3 bottles. I even had the privilege of taking my photo with the ladies who were responsible in making this product. They explained to me how it was made. Aside for cosmetic purposes, Argan oil is also used to dip bread for breakfast which I also tried which was very good. After a quick brush at the shop and some new information, I stepped in the same cab to High Atlas.
I finally arrived and was welcomed by my guide, Hussain. He was aware that I didnt had lunch yet so he suggested that I try the beef Tajine. This is a type of Moroccan stew with beef/chicken and vegetables slow cooked in an earthenware pot. It was served with bread and salad. As I opened the pot, the aroma made my mouth water. The meat was very tender and the juices from the meat and vegetables blended very well. It was the perfect meal to make me energized for my trek. An hour after my savory lunch, I was ready for the trek. I took a bottle of water and my camera. Hussain said that the trek will just be for an hour given that my time is limited. As we were ascending to the hill, my guide was explaining to me about the trees. They looked dead and dry to me but they were actually full of life and were even fruit-bearing trees. I saw some cherry,walnut and apple trees.They grown abundantly in their area. Every few minutes, we stop and rest to appreciate the view. I noticed that the air was getting cooler. At our 3rd stop, I was able to get a clearer view of the mountains. Mountains who had villages. The sight was unique and at the same time alluring.
We were now descending and on our descent, we passed by a river. I was not able to help myself but touch the water. It was clear and cold since it was from the mountains. I’d love to soak my feet in that and just sit and breathe the fresh air. As we walked pass the river, Hussain told me that there will be a waterfall ahead. Waterfalls were not new to me since there are dozens of them back home but they never disappoint me. The thought of how the ice melts from the mountains and makes its path down the earth is just astounding. I took a few shots and ‘selfies’ of course and continued with the trek. I arrived at our starting point 2 hours later. It was tiring but the view gave it all away.
I bid my guide farewell and went inside my cab back to Marrakech to catch the sights of the city. As I arrived in Marrakech, I stopped by a cafe to have some coffee with chantilly (cream) and waffles. As I was sipping my coffee, I noticed that oranges are just growing there on the streets. It is just lovely that fruits are growing abundantly and the people are not even making any fuss about it. People are well-dressed as well. It was a very relaxing moment. It’s a different scene from what I see in Dubai where the people are just rushing to catch the next train. After grabbing a bite, I headed to Gare to catch the last train back to Casablanca.
Day 2 at Casablanca. After a sumptuous breakfast, I decided to explore the city and headed to the Plage (beach). I took the tram to the last stop. The breeze was cooler than Marrakech especially when I arrived. I decided to go to a beachside cafe and just sip mint tea (i also suggest to try couscous when in Morocco) and enjoy the view on a Sunday morning. I headed to Marche to have lunch. It was a tourist spot where is it situated in a market. You can actually buy your own seafood and have it cooked in the nearby restaurant. After lunch, I decided to go to their mall to look for some magnets (for my collection) but unluckily found nothing. After a few strolls and sight seeing of the city, I headed back to my hotel to change for my dinner at Rick’s Cafe.
I arrived at exactly 8pm and was escorted by a waiter. I was offered their vast wine selection. After choosing my drink, I went through their menu decided to have a feast. My appetizer was fois gras, main was grilled chicken with Moroccan touch and was not able to have some desert since I was stuffed. I enjoyed the piano accompanied by the saxophone. I ended the night early as I needed to prepare for my early flight back to reality.
4 days Hotel accommodation and Round trip Air ticket from Dubai to Casablanca- $660
Pocket money – $200
Here are some flicks from my vacation.
outside Rick’s Cafe
waiting for the train to Marrakech
outside the cooperative house
the women behind the Argan oil
Argan oil making
the final product
i didnt see it coming
Mount Toubkal , High Atlas
outside my hotel
i got my coat from Bershka, dress from New Look, bag from Pull and Bear and boots from American Rag
on my way to explore the City