What a difference a year makes. Last year this time I was on a Backroads trip in Turkey. Jane and I extended the trip and spent several days exploring Istanbul-a fabulous city w/amazing history. We splurged on a hotel-right on the Bosphorus-a former palace-in fact it’s called the Cirigan Palace Hotel. Price? Over $800/night. Fast forward. I’m feeling luxurious as I sit w/my feet up on my double bed in a hotel in Casablanca-WITH A TV (which I have on even tho it gets one French channel and Al Jazeera-I’m listening to music on the French channel-1st TV in 6 mos)-and a FULL bathroom, complete with towels, shampoo and conditioner. There’s wireless internet-IN MY ROOM! And a minibar! Price? Less than 650DH. OK, so with the exchange rate, it’s about 1/10th the price of the Cirigan Palace, but I feel like a princess anyway. Can you say HOT shower?
Feeling pretty lazy as I’ve had plenty of time to-get myself from Rabat to Casa-my flight to Seattle leaves out of Casa airport tonight. I’ve had a chance to wander Casablanca, and so far it doesn’t get my vote for favorite Moroccan city. By a long shot. Start w/frustration at train station trying to get a taxi. My hotel’s too far, yet too close-no one wants the fare. Instead of saying so, they tell me their meters are broke, they have to go pray, it’s time for lunch. Language is not the issue here. Hshuma. Guy in grand taxi comes over and offers to take me-ok-for what?50DH for a less than 10DH trip? Hshuma again. Then today at the Hassan II Mosque, no taxi wants to go to the Medina Nouvelle. Elesh? Manerfsh. Get someone to take the fare and he “hshuma’s” the other drivers. Welcome to Casa-not!
So in my wanderings, I’m looking for the charm of old Casablanca. It’s not readily apparent. Big, busy, traffic, crowded, dirty city. I do find charm in the olive souk and used hwaj souk of the New Medina, at the Central Market (I seem drawn to Central Markets in cities-great way to see people and how they live), and at the outdoor cafe where I eat all the fish (calamari, shrimp, sole) I want. Now I need to shower, pack and get myself to the airport. B’slama Casablanca.