Sunday, 28 June 2015

June 17 – Casablanca, Morocco

Second day in Casablanca | Tour of Casablanca in the morning | Return to ship for room service lunch | Venture out alone to spend the remainder of our Dirhams on souvenirs | Return to the ship | Dinner in the dining room | Ship departs for Cadiz at 7 pm.

We ordered room service and ate breakfast in our room. The tour departed at 8 am to explore Casablanca. We drove around the city in a bus filled with English speakers and Germans, stopping at a square filled with pigeons. At our second stop we left the bus and walked around and admired kittens and the olive market. We then looked at an old palace, returned to the bus, and drove around a rich area in the hills called Anfa. We stopped on the Ain diab beachfront and we went into McDonald’s, ordered a couple of sundaes and a coke, and took advantage of the free wi-fi to quickly send a note back home to family and  let them know we were still alive, since the internet on the cruise is extraordinarily expensive and from our limited observation, slow.

We then drove to the Hassan II mosque, which is apparently the only mosque in Islam where non-Muslims can visit, only with a tour group. We took off our shoes and walked around the inside admiring the spectacular marble and stonework. The inside is 65 metres high (195 ft). Even the washing area is filled with marble fountains. We couldn’t help but contrast the splendor of this house of worship with the dire poverty, lack of medical care, lack of education, and homeless animals we had seen all over Morocco.

We returned to the bus and drove to the United Nations plaza, which of course contained another tourist rip-off store. We were still laughing about the argan oil in Tangier with the Norwegians. After this, we returned to the ship, had lunch in our room as the dining room didn’t have anything appealing to us and they tried to seat us with strangers.

After lunch we ventured out alone, on foot, because the cruise ship dock is very close to the medina. As usual, there were some people harassing us to buy things, beg, or be our guides. After feeling intensely harassed by one individual, we managed to orient ourselves as a result of the tour in the morning, and retreated to a café near the United Nations Plaza for a cool drink and to regroup (This is in contrast to our Tangier trip when our morning tour was moved and we had no ability to look for familiar landmarks, so in this case our planning paid off…too bad Costa didn’t seem to get that or at least care). We then ventured forth back into the medina, bought some souvenirs, and returned to the ship devoid of Dirhams.

We had a snack at the buffet as dinner was going to be at 9:15. Bill then went upstairs to discuss the note the tour office had left for us. To our grave disappointment, the tour to Monaco was cancelled. After North Africa, Monaco was the place we wanted to see most. We wouldn’t have even been on the cruise ship if it had not had these ports of call/excursions. Bill then finally had a chance to speak with Francesco, the tour manager. He was much less hostile than he was previously. After a 15 minute conversation he said he would put his head together with Guest services to see what they could do to help us out, and get back to us.

We went for dinner, and then to bed. The highlight of the cruise has thus far been the service at the dining room. The food quality is severely lacking, but our servers Amit and Midhun are spectacular. They are attentive, warm, humourous, and just all around great human beings. Plus their English is wonderful and we appreciate having someone besides ourselves to converse in English with.

Two days after we first reported it, our drain and light were fixed. However they used our beach towels in the process to absorb the flood in our bathroom and did not replace them… we had to ask for more beach towels, as if they are not returned, guests are charged a $10 fee per towel according to the information pamphlet.

13.05 km walked today.

There were many, many pigeons at this square.

Art Deco architecture abounds in Casablanca

Yet another gorgeous door. Why don't we put more thought into them in Canada?

The olive market had more than olives, a fresh crop of adorable kittens

Olives at the Olive Market

Gorgeous green tiles are all over Morocco. Green is the holiest colour.

Bill caught April taking another photo of him

The Massive Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca

Photos can't capture how immense this mosque is. 65 metres high. People look like ants inside it.

Another gorgeous ceiling. Why don't we bother about them in Canada?

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