Archive for October, 2014

Morocco/Spain diary: Day 3

Sunday, 26 October, 2014

Monday, 15 September, 2014. 10:10

We are in the tour bus, setting off from Casablanca for Rabat, after touring the Hassan II Mosque, the third largest mosque in the world (as we were told).

Hassan II Mosque fisheye
Hassan II Mosque.

I slept well until about 05:00, but M. said she had a restless sleep. We went down to breakfast at 07:00 sharp. I had just yoghurt and corn flakes, and some prunes and dates, avoiding the eggs and bread today. M. tried a different pastry. After eating, we returned to our room and packed, then went down to check out and meet up with the tour group at 08:00. Lahcen herded us onto a minibus with our luggage and then we drove off to the mosque for a public tour. We got there by 08:30, and Lahcen told us to assemble at the front entrance of the mosque by 08:45, giving us a few minutes to walk around and take photos of the outside. The building is stunning from the outside, and visually defies one’s sense of proportion. It looks like someone took a normal sized building and just scaled it up about five times. Surrounding it is a large flat courtyard paved with patterned stone, which is used for prayers during special events when the mosque is full inside.

Morocco/Spain diary: Day 2

Saturday, 11 October, 2014

Sunday, 14 September, 2014. 09:20

We are having a brief rest in our room before heading out for the day. Our tour meets up this evening, so we have the day to explore Casablanca a bit for ourselves. We are planning to go have a look at the cathedral of Sacre Coeur and then grab a taxi out to the Morocco Mall, the largest shopping mall in Africa. It will be a slightly relaxing day, no hectic sightseeing and rushing around.

We got to bed before 21:00 last night and slept through to about 04:00 before stirring a bit and then snoozing drowsily for a few more hours. We are feeling mostly refreshed his morning. We went down to breakfast just a few minutes after 07:00. It was a fairly standard hotel buffet, with cereal, scrambled eggs, chicken sausages, croissants and pastries, yoghurt, bread rolls, and fruit. The fruit included dates in bunches still on the stalks. These were a pale brown colour and firmer and slightly smaller than the medjool dates we get at home. They tasted a bit less sweet, but were very nice. As we were finishing up, the waiter brought out a dish of fried bread, which we had to try as it looked intriguing. It was light and airy in the middle, with a crisp oily crust and slightly salty, not sweet at all.

Good dates
Olives and dates for breakfast.


Morocco/Spain diary: Day 1

Thursday, 9 October, 2014

Saturday, 13 September, 2014. 04:20 Dubai time

We are about half an hour from landing in Dubai, after a 14 hour flight from Sydney, which departed just after 21:00 Sydney time last night. It’s been dark for the entire flight, and the sun will probably rise a bit after we land.

Check in, customs, and security clearance at Sydney was quick and easy, with the airport not very busy when we arrived. We wandered the shops a bit, then had dinner at the Chinese dumpling restaurant in the departure lounge area. We had steamed vegetable buns, vegetable spring rolls, prawn dumplings, and salt and pepper squid.

We boarded the plane well before departure, and found ourselves on the lower deck right near the front of the plane, only four rows back from the cockpit. All the first and business class is presumably upstairs, where from the bottom of the staircase near us we can see the liquor bar up there. The seats are wide and comfortable, with plenty of space for legroom, which is nice. And the entertainment system is amazing, with a thousand or so movies, TV shows, and music albums to choose from. And the touch screens actually work, unlike all the others I’ve seen on planes before.

We were served a dinner, for which M. got a vegan meal which had some sort of grainy potato cakes with vegetables. I chose the fish dinner which was chunks of battered and fried fish in a sweet and sour sauce with rice. With it I had some white wine, which was a Semillon-Sauvignon Blanc blend from Bordeaux. The food was quite good, and the bread roll was the best I’ve ever had on a flight.

After that it was the long haul of the mid-flight. We tried to sleep as much as we could, though first we watched a movie each. I chose The Muppets, which I hadn’t seen before and which was pretty good for any Muppets fan. In the middle of the night when most people were asleep with their screens turned off, M. went for a toilet break. She held on to seats along the way for balance and accidentally touched everyone’s screens as she went turning them on and leaving a trail of brightly lit screens behind her. Thankfully they didn’t seem to wake anyone up and I turned them off again.

I think we missed the mid-flight snack. Breakfast was served about three hours before landing. I had a frittata which came with mushrooms and baked beans.

06:34 Dubai Airport

We are waiting for our connecting flight to Casablanca, which leaves in another hour. Our flight landed here just before 05:00, when the outside temperature was a very warm 29°C. We went through the transfer security check and ended up in terminal A, which is where our next flight leaves from, so we didn’t have to travel to one of the other terminals by the shuttle train. We walked around, looking at the various airport shops for a bit, before sitting to rest and wait. We saw some camel milk chocolate, which I might buy some of on our way back through coming home. I tried to get onto the free airport WiFi, but it doesn’t want to connect for some reason.

M. got a milky mocha drink from a Starbucks, and we each ate one of the chocolate chip oat bars we brought from home for travel snacks. The sun has just come up outside and our next flight is during daylight.

09:17 Casablanca time.

We are a bit over halfway through the second flight, high over the Mediterranean, just south of the Ionian Sea between Greece and Italy. Our trajectory took us over northern Egypt, and a direct route would have taken us over Libya, but the flight map shows an obvious curving detour to the north to avoid flying over that country.

We were given a continental breakfast of croissants and fruit after take off, with a sweet orange muffin for me and a bread roll for M. We’ll get a lunch before landing. The menu says it is chickpea and sweet corn salad with iceberg lettuce and chicken pastrami, followed by a choice between chicken machbous, marinated in distinctive aromatic spices and slow cooked with rice, garnished with roasted pine nuts, or lamb apricot tajine served with red and yellow couscous. I think I will try the lamb. Oh and a chocolate walnut brownie for dessert.

Our estimated arrival time in Casablanca is 12:24. We expect to be met by a representative of Intrepid Travel, who will take us to our hotel and let us know the details for the beginning of our tour. Then we just need to stay awake for the rest of the day before having a good long sleep later.