Friday, 14 September 2012

Day Nine - Oualidia to Casablanca

We had breakfast at our peaceful guesthouse in Oualidia before hitting the road further north again to Casablanca. The coast continued in the same way as before with sandy beaches leading down to the sea and the odd natural lagoon along the way too. As we head past El Jadida and got closer to Casablanca though, huge beach resorts lined the way and you could no longer see the sea!

We were unsure what to expect of Casablanca, we had heard such contrasting reviews! We knew it was the commercial capital of Morocco so we expected something modern and hectic. We had read that few tourists visit the city, which was appealing to me, so I had made it our last stop on our tour home.

However, once we successfully navigated our way to our hotel just on the upmarket Corniche coastal area of town we noticed it was going through a little 'renovation'. In fact the whole outer facade was being replaced with a shiny new one! Jamie still not being sold on our stay here suggested we carry on our journey home - I thought it was at least worth a look inside - never judge a book by its front cover and all!

After parking up and wandering inside we found it was a nice hotel and you would have no idea of the work being carried out. The hotel offered six restaurants as well as air con - sold! We moved in for the night before having some lunch and deciding how to spend our day!

We decided to begin the afternoon with a walking tour of the old town suggested by our Lonely Planet guide. We took a taxi into town and were dropped off at the Cathedrale du Sacre Coeur. The cathedral was built by Paul Thornon in 1930.

We then walked onto the Wilaya, the old police headquarters, a fantastic 1930's building with an impressive clock tower you can see from streets away. This building dominates the Place Mohammed vi centre square.

Right next door to it is the Palais de Justice (Law courts) built in 1925.

It has a very impressive entrance inspired by the Persian iwan.

It was well over 30 degrees so we decided to stop here at one of Casablanca's famous street cafes for a quick refreshment!

We then continued down streets lined with 1920's and 30's hotels. Lots with beautiful art deco facades. Some had been renovated impressively and some were sadly in a little more state of decay then others.

The street continued down lined with old colonial styled architecture now renovated into hotels and apartments.

We then walked to the Petite Pi
Pouchet bar and cafe where characters such as Antoine de Saint-Exupery spent his time in the 1920's between flights to the Sahara. Edith Pilaf and Albert Camys were also among customers. Now full of seedy old men its still worth a look and imagining it back in its hayday - it still has the original bar counter too! However, it's best to go round the corner for a coffee at one of the smarter cafes in my opinion!

We then strolled round the corner to the Cinema Rialto a classic art deco style building.

Our route ended at the Place 16 November that was currently pulled up in preparation for the much anticipated (and needed) new tramlines!

We were then going to get a taxi to our next destination but no one wanted to take us there! We started to walk in the right direction and strolled upon the Hassan II Mosque. This is the third biggest mosque in the world and can accommodate 25,000 worshipped with a further 80,000 within its grounds too! It is also the tallest building in Morocco.

From here we managed to grab a taxi to our next destination the Socco de Moina Souq in the Hay Hassani area.

This place is a real gem! It's a market selling everything! As Jamie described 'it's like a walking tour of the treasures of e-bay!'

You can find all sorts of antiques left by the french here from the colonial times. Grand pianos, gramophones, chandeliers, paintings and more line the narrow alleys of the market. Here are a few treasures we saw!

Casablanca gave us a great ending to our holiday and I would definitely make an effort to pay a visit rather then pass it by!

Today we make a long drive up the coast back to Ceuta for our late evening crossing back to Algeciras.


Kitty as a Picture Illustration and Surface Design Blog said...

Amazing! I'm so very envious!

Jeffery @ Cheap studios for rent in New York said...

Love this hotel and its infrastructure, its really great also the exteriors and the place.

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