With every recent trip to destinations wondrous and beautiful, such as Oman and Jordan, we have had the advantage of being guided by locals who regale us with stories, facts and observations about their homelands, cities and history. Morocco will not be an exception. Welcome to Casablanca.
On the road to Casablanca in an Emirates A380 with pink mood lighting
After arriving in Casablanca after a surprisingly fresh journey of 24 hours from Canberra to Sydney to Dubai to Casablanca--flying 14.5 hours from Sydney to Dubai was one of the best flights we've ever had, including a 6 hour sleep in the business class flat beds with heaps of food and Moët and Chandon 2013 exclusive to Emirates champagne (oh, go on, you know you'd do it if you had the chance)--we met with our travel buddies at the Art Palace Hotel in Casablanca, our first caravanserai, to meet, mingle and exchange travel talk. Every room features art and furniture around an historic figure. We're sleeping in Napoleon's room and Shakespeare is across the corridor.
Napoleon's room at the Art Palace Hotel, Casablanca
A new member of our travel family is our local guide, Rad, who shared local knowdge about food, drink and traffic in Casablanca. He mentioned traffic is frantic in Casablanca. Traffic stops for no one. Don't assume that you have the right of way as a pedestrian when crossing the street on a zebra crossing. Cross at your peril if you expect scooters to stop for you. Pick a gap in the traffic and then cross promptly. He doesn't see the point of having zebra crossings. They are decorative and serve no useful function.
By my reasoning, it appears the reason zebra crossings got the name is because cars and scooters don't stop for pedestrians or, apparently, zebras. The zebra got squashed, hence the white stripes on roads that are meant to indicate you should give way to pedestrians. Of course, I made that up.
Rad told us about the different kinds of tea and coffee to tempt us. If you ask for green mint tea and the waiter asks if you want a little bit of sugar, say "No sugar". A "little bit" of sugar will be too sweet for us. I had one and it wasn't overly sweet. Mint tea is going to be my favourite drink. It reminded me of Wrigley's Double Mint Chewing Gum (Eclectic Stefan did not receive any endorsement for this product).
Double espresso at Restaurant Les Fleurs in Casablanca
Tea can also be served with milk in place of hot water. You must specify Lipton's black tea with water. Coffee can be black, Americano, espresso, or a specialty half coffee/half milk called 'nous nous'. Coffee drinkers and followers of Eclectic Stefan's Instagram page, @eclecticstefan_coffeeshop will be familiar with the extensive range of coffee across many countries (Eclectic Stefan definitely endorses his own Instagram coffee shots).
There were lots of other tips for travellers around safety (Morocco is a safe country), currency and appropriate dress. Water from the tap shouldn't be consumed. The locals are used to the local water but the local microbes might have a party in our traveller's tummy, which wouldn't be pleasant. This is similar to many other countries in the Middle East and Europe. Bottled water is the go.
Although Morocco is a Muslim nation, the dress code is modern and Rad, who is already becoming an incredible guide with his wealth of information, said we should dress the way we would normally. Even our visit to a mosque in Casablanca will not have strict dress codes like our visit to the Grand Mosque in Oman. Women are not required to wear head coverings but modest and respectful clothing is still the way to go.
But this is day one upon arrival and the experiences are about to unfold, so you'll have to wait as the journey begins.
Warning: In light of the comments about the danger to pedestrians on zebra crossings in Casablanca, here are a couple of observations. You have been warned. You know you want to read them.
A man is standing on the side of the road waiting to cross when another man stands alongside him. The first man says, " I have been waiting to cross here for ages, it's impossible to cross". The second man says, "There is a zebra crossing up the road". The first man replies, "I hope he's having better luck than I am".
Oh, come on, don't tell me you didn't see that one coming. Read my blog about complaints. OK, what about this one.
Two donkeys are standing near a street light and deciding whether to cross the zebra crossing or not.
Donkey 1:What are you waiting for? Let's cross the road!
Donkey 2: No Way! Did you see what happened to the zebra?