Morocco - Casablanca, Rabat and Fes

Last Revised: : 1.46 : 2008/02/13 22:30:24 - a report from Andreas Haack
Moroccan flag Royal Palace in Fes. Donkey cart reversing in the narrow alleys if Fes Minaret of the mosque in Fes shadow
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A friendly young man approaches me: "Hello, how are you ?" he ask in English. "Fine - and your self?" a answered politely not knowing if that was a friendly gesture or a opening for a business. It turned out to be one of my colleges from the local branch of the company I work for. I am on an short business trip. Working here gives you the change the experience the true hospitality and friendliness of the people. Nidal is a Tunisian working here as software engineer. He came 10 month ago because it work is better payed here. But soon he will return and marry he hopes. Picking a wife is semi-traditional here. Your mother pick a woman. But not like in the past were you do not see here before the marriage. In modern times you make first contact via Internet or alike then meet and see if the chemistry matches.
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May 2006 and January 2008 - Business in Rabat

Ibis Hotel Restaurant in Rabat Take breakfirst in the Ibis Hotel garden+# in Rabat Rabat Agdal train station Picolo's Restaurant in Rabat shadow
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I arrived in Rabat airport located next to the kings palace. I am in Africa again. The taxi driver grabs the luggage everybody points go with him - so not much choice and power to bring the price down.
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There are two types of taxis - Grand Taxis and Petit Taxis. Grand Taxis are older worn down Mercedes that are expensive and drive between cities, and Petit Taxis are small Peugeot taxis that are cheap and leagaly only can drive in the city limits. Grand Taxis you order in the Hotel or pick at the airport, Petit Taxis you stop at in the street. The regular price from Rabat airport to downtown with a grand taxi is 200 MAD (about 20 EUR), also at the airport information displays prices of 100 to 150 MAD and taxi drivers try to rip you of with 300 of 350 MAD. Prices from Casablanca airport are 600 MAD and it takes one hour to Rabat. Petit taxi driving is most easy if you know to name the place where you want to go and you speak a few words French. Thay all have meters. A ten minute ride costs like 8 MAD. After 20:00 twice what the meter shows is charged as night rate some times.

Kingdom of Morocco,a constitutional monarchy, is situated in northwestern Africa with coasts on the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea; it is bordered by Algeria to the east and Mauritania to the south. The population is estimated to 33,241,259 July 2006. The area of Morocco is 458,730 sq km.

Morocco recovered its political independence from France on March 2, 1956 Weekend is on Saturday and Sunday like in the western world. Rabat is the capital of Morocco and with a popoulation of one million a fairly modern town by moroccon standards. Agdal is more the districts of the well living people. There are lots of restaurants. But this are the fast food style restaurants of for the young people which are the
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In the pizza and grill Restaurant Don Pino you can probably eat the best pizza in town for around 50 MAD. At 20:00 I was often the only guest but later the restaurant filled up. 29 AV IBN SINA-Agdal, RAbat; 037-682323
one that have money. I was surprised how many youg pople have new cars here in Agdal and how expenice food is in the view supermakets. If you do not go for sone popular destination then getting there can be difficult even with a written down address. in Arabic
Despite the SMS showing the address the driver did not know where to go and it took me some days to describe the destination and give directions that was a outside the center.
It is common to take a 2 hour lunch break and my 4 colleges, most where over a year here and had a Moroccan residence permit, took me to some of the few restaurants - a 20 minute drive. A food court in a shopping center and Picolo's Restaurant.
Since I spend all day in the office there is not much to tell.
Despite being a 3 start hotel, the Ibis Moussafir Hotel Rabat, Morocco was a nice place to stay. Rooms where clean and nice. An that at a price of 420 MAD (420 Dirham, = 42 EUR). The breakfirst buffet is most enjoyable in the nice palm garden. Sitting there you do not notice that the hotel is located near the Agdal train station a very convenient fact.
On Friday my business ended and I looked for an affordable hotel. I was to late and everything was terrible expensive. But luckily there was a room in the in Fes - in the Ibis - near the train station.
The Ibis Hotels in Morocco are all located at the train station. So when you arrive by train you can already checkin with your heavy baggage without the hassel of greedy taxi drivers which do not know the way.

Soundous Hotel made nice impressing medium class expression. It is not like the main unusal stream line. Staff is very polite and friendly like it should be in a five star hotel. The interior is trditinal moroccaim style. Mosaic flor berber hand made type of furniture and geschieden tables and banks. All nice but certanly with a afcan touch. This includes also that some thing are broken like the window handle, putz im bathroom cames off the wall holes in drilled in the waa have not been coverd. But over all a very nice hotel. GLass art. Breakfisr bufe is nice. Fres baguet .. OF couse you have the ask : there is no bread, butter milk juice... cane I have a spoon

25-May-2006 To 26-May-2006 Old City Fes

Golden gate at the Royal Palace in Fes. Leather tannery backyard in Fes. Arabic train schedule Boys nipping water at the Nejjarine Fountain in Fes. shadow
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I am in the train to Fes. Someone is playing Arabic music which is matching the scenery. The countryside has lots of vegetation with some dry patches. Residential areas look pretty nasty, as many old houses are rotten and newer look unfinished as many just leave the bricks and no windows at the top floors. People where helpful and many times I ask in broken French someone answered in English. I have to change train in Kacem, I was told - three more station. When I arrived I found that the connection train just departs in 55 minutes. So what is to do in Sidi Kacem? Well nothing - I went out the main exit of the train station and found that it is an industrial area - oil refinery in front. I took a photo of the contrast of the palm trees with the refinery when someone stepped up and told me in French that it is forbidden. Suddenly I could not speak a word French and he walked away. Even that hour passed and I was on the train to Fes, which was only 20 minutes late. For a long time the train made only walking pace but Finally I arrived at the Hotel.

The currency of Morocco is the Moroccan Dirham (MAD). 10 Dirham, are around one Euro (EUR). The Dirham was introduced in 1960. It replaced the Franc as the major unit of currency but, until 1974, the Franc continued to circulate. 1 Dirham were 100 Francs. The Dirham is only available in Morocco, and the import and export of the currency is strictly forbidden. All currency purchased during a visit to Morocco must be converted back before departing the country. One of my collects told me that they even searched his shoes if he had any money hidden.

Decoration at the Koran school in Fes Hand craft store in the Medina of Fes Medina of Fes Madrassa - Koran school shadow
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The room in the Ibis here was more worn down. But they had a swimming pool. My college advised me that one needs a guide to see the Medina. Since I did not want to take the chance, I ask at the reception for and official guide. The price was 120 MAD (12 EUR) plus taxi (20 MAD = 2 EUR) and entrance fees for me and the guide for the Koranic school (20 MAD = 2 EUR).
Fes is Morocco's oldest city. Since its founding in 789 AD as the seat of Morocco's first native dynasty.
He was guide of the monuments, he said, and if I want another guide for hand crafts? I bet if I would have said yes, he would be the expert in hand crafts. Never the less, this guide of the monuments did not bother to stop at the royal palace and when I ask he said quick because we can not park here.
So we finally walked through the Medina. The Medina has everything old local food and handcraft shops and souvenir and handcraft shops addressed for tourists. It is not so interesting if you have seen a Arabic souk before. We came by the Madrassa( Koranic school) where I had to pay 2*10 MAD (2 EUR). After another long walk through the Medina we passed Nejjarine fountain next to a hall used as accommodation for camel caravans in old days.
Like everybody else we ended up in a leather tannery. Interesting to see the manufacturing process. No I do not want to buy anything, no really not. So when this guide of the monuments finally turned into the carpet hand craft street saying "Moroccan carpet is the best in the world", I answered that I will not buy a carpet and this rather unimpressive walk came to an end, so I could catch the 13:00 h train to Casablanca.
The weekend is like in the western world Saturday and Sunday and not Friday and Saturday or Thursday and Friday like in many other Arabic countries.

26-May-2006 To 29-May-2006 Casablanca

Leather manufacturing in Fes Mosque ... Big Mosque in Casablanca Big Mosque in Casablanca shadow
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With the name Casablanca one associates something romantic, also due to the shooting of the movie Casablanca with Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in 1942. Fact - not a single scene has been shot in Casablanca. Casablanca is a huge city with a population of 3.5 million. It is Morocco's biggest city. It is a pretty modern town. I got a hotel on the beach area at ...
On of the famous monuments is the big mosque, the Hassan II Mosque. The mosque also includes a number of modern touches: it was built to withstand earthquakes and has a heated floor, electric doors, a sliding roof, and lasers which shine at night from the top of the minaret toward Mecca.

Train Station Casablanca Voyageur Train Station Casablanca Voyageur Big Mosque in Casablanca Cat hunting fish in the fisher nets in the Casablanca houbour shadow
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