Layover Fun in Casablanca, Morocco
My layover in Morocco got off to a rough start…quite literally. With viscious turbulence, our red eye flight became a harrowing experience of stomach dropping bumps and zig-zags in the sky. Passengers were screaming and praying as our plane dropped, causing me to consider whether we were in serious danger! Needless to say, I didn’t get much sleep on that flight and landed feeling groggy.
After waiting in the customs line, at the baggage carousal and waiting again to exit the terminal, my patience was wearing thin. Due to an itinerary change that resulted in my lay over turning from 1.5 hours to 1.5 days, Royal Air Marocc had offered me one nights stay in a nearby hotel. I found my way up to the RAM transit desk hoping for the best. To my delight, everything was in order and I was soon on my way to the hotel on a hotel shuttle. It was the start of what would be a superb experience.
With so much uncertainty due to the last-minute flight changes, I had not set any expectations for where I would be staying. I ended up staying at the Sky Atlas Hotel. It isn’t particularly close to town but very conveniently situated near the Mohammed V International Airport.
The grounds resembled a tropical resort with palm trees and a large swimming pool. My room was modern and immaculately clean with a flat screen TV and wifi. What more could I ask for!
Hammad II Mosque: Casablanca’s Masterpiece
After a leisurely nap to recharge in the comfort of my AC room, I set off for town to see the Hammad II mosque – an exquisite architectural masterpiece towering over the Western coastline.
I was not able to catch a tour because they are only offered in the morning, however as a trade-off I conveniently arrived just in time to watch the sunset. Simply walking around the mosque was worth the taxi ride – that’s how beautiful it is.
The main square was filled with people! Some of them were gazing with just as much wonder as I was at the beauty of the mosque. Others were relaxing on the large stone steps, or walking down along the promenade, weaving in and out of food stalls.
The exterior of the mosque has giant ornate doors and gorgeous mosaic patterns!
I found myself meandering down the oceanside path to get a wider view of the mosque.
I sat on the concrete wall that towers over the sea and was approached by a few families who wanted to say hello or take a photo. The sheer kindness I experienced was humbling!
After about 20 minutes, the sun began to set and the mosque lit up, creating a soft glow around the entire square. It was so beautiful!
Moroccan Cuisine in Casablanca:
Next, I wanted to try some authentic Moroccan food and decided on Basmane. It’s elegant with ornate décor of intricate wood, mosaic designs, candles and ceramic accents.
I ordered the mint tea and vegetable couscous (as recommended by the locals I met earlier). The couscous was light and fluffy, containing flavourful pinches of potato, cabbage, zucchini and squash. The serving was so large I could just barely eat half of it.
Overall, an evening was enough time to photograph the stunning mosque and get some Moroccan cuisine for dinner. Or vice versa, you could go for the morning tour and get lunch afterwards. If you are in Casablanca, I would highly recommend it!
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