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Our world Travel On 10th May 2007 I fled the UK on a journey around the world with a long list of places to go. Got as far as the Philippines where I met my wife. We got married on 11th May 2010 and are now sharing the experiences of travelling the world together

Casablanca to Marrakesh

UNITED KINGDOM | Wednesday, 20 June 2007 | Views [3330]

10th June represents the 2nd start of my world tour after having to abort the earlier attempt to return to the UK to sort out my domestic mess. The past weeks have been too traumatic for words and have seriously messed up my motivation towards my travel dreams. Thanks Rachel.could have been handled completely different. Life eh!

Anyway, after thinking about my options for the future I came to the conclusion that I may as well carry on my travel as best I can and pick where I left off on 31st May. The best I could do is to go to Morocco but on a different tour than originally planned. Organised flight and booked tour to leave UK on 10th June.

Destination Casablanca via Paris Charles de Gaulle with a few hours transit time in between. CDG is typical french ie expensive but efficient and very clean. Delayed flight meant getting to casablanca later than expected at 12:45am. Taxi from casa airport was hilarious as it takes about 35mins with no road discipline at all and cost 300 Maroccan Dirhams or MAD for short(£17). MAD currency, MAD people (well the drivers anyway) !

The following day was free for me to explore so I went walkabout. The most interesting thing about Casablanca is the Hassan II Mosque. Finished in 1993 with only the perimeter sea defense area to complete.This must rate as the most awesome mosque I have ever seen in terms of architecture. Stunning bit of handiwork and will be back here at the end of the tour for a proper look around it. The rest of casa isn't much to warrant much attention as it is just a modern city with lots of traffic beeping away and trying to kill pedestrians wherever possible.

Decided to be on time for the tour departure meeting to be held at 6pm. Waited....and waited...nobody else turned up! Now then...Morocco is on GMT but doesn't observe summertime adjustment....silly sod, I had spent the entire day 1hr out so it wasn't time yet. I had to laugh. Had to check with home to prove that yes I was going mad! Have turned into a morrocan already so no hope.

Anyway, meeting got underway at the rignt time. Only 6 on this tour plus the guide....Daryl & Carol from Melbourne, Hayley and Jo from London(jo originally from New Zealand), Carla from South Africa of portugese descent now living in Madeira and Me. Tour guide Samir of Moroccan descent. We all seem to get on well from the start which helps. Went for a meal after the meeting, nothing exciting but cheap. Went for a reccy with Carla afterwards and the others went back to the hotel for an early night.

Following day 9am start destination ESSAOUIRA (pron. essaweera). Apart from being a pretty seaside town the other claim to fame was that Jimi Hendrix liked the local Gaoua music that much he spent a lot of time here and they now have a festival every august.

On the way to Essaouira we picked up provisions to have a picnic. Carried on down the coast road via El Jadida,a touristy place famed for its sardines which it exports to Japan. The area aparently produces 80% of the world's phosphates too - boring bit of information - sorry! It also has a 19th century portugese fortification that we stopped at. Some other useless info...to encourage folk to stay in the countryside cos the cities are getting too busy, you don't pay income taxes outside the city.

Moved onto Oualidia for picnic lunch - Fantastic pretty beach. Sat on the rocks next to the icyllic setting eating lunch with red wine and the girls for company - Wonderful. Watching the fishermen repairing nets and cooking fish on the beach. You choose your fish from the boat (crab, lobster, barracuda, oysters, etc) and they cook it right there. How's that for fresh! The fishermen and their families live in little shanty huts on the beach. Absolutely gorgeous setting. Passed the not so rare 5 legged donkey en-route. Very common site!

Next entered an area covered in the Argan tree which is only grown in this area of the world. The nuts are harvested for their oil. To get at it the outer fruit it cut away and the inner nut smashed to release the oil. This work is done by women who have formed their own co--operative. However, they haven't managed to stop a rather cheeky type of local goat that has learnt to climb the argan tree and crush its own nuts - sounds painful! The oil is used for high class cooking and cosmetics.

Another local speciality is the Ghia tree which only has a tiny trunk around 4inch diameter but a root many feet in diameter. This is used in local furniture and has a beautiful gnarled grain.

Carried on to Essaouira. Stopped at the Al Jasira hotel (nice one with pool and excellent moorish ceilings). By the way Essaouira means "nice design" after a competition was held when the town was originally built. Walked into town along the sea front which is a popular kite surfing area. A short way out to sea is purple island. This was a prison island like alkatraz. Shut down a long time ago. Also home to a protected species of bird so nobody is allowed to go there. Quick trip into the medina as will be spending more time tomoro. Instantly took a liking to its layout and colourful array of shops. One tried to sell me viagra - now what would I need that for? No further comment.

Wed 13th June - half a day back in the medina & Harbour area. Full of hustle and bustle like any harbour - scampi, snapper, eel, barracuda, lobster,crab,

Sardines etc. The main medina is of portugese origin. Canons along one section dated 1779. Passed a hammam (steam bath) that used to be frequented by Orson Welles but since 1952 became women only - would have liked to go in but their would have been major trouble. Visited a wood co-operative selling the local ghia wood (mixed with  ebony, lemon wood and mother of pearl). Very expensive but superb workmanship. Cheaper out in the souk. Lunch at La Petit Perl of lamb tagine with prunes. Gorgeous and only £3. Left Essaouira after lunch destination Marrakech.

Tags: Sightseeing

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