Friday, September 18, 2015

Morocco - It's all OK now

It took us around 30 hours from leaving the driveway in Canberra to fly to Casablanca, via Bangkok and Dubai. So the slow moving queues and general air of chaos at Casablanca airport on our arrival Wednesday really tested our patience. This irritation paled into insignificance though when we learnt we'd arrived in Morocco, but our luggage had not!!

After one of the worst two hours we've ever spent at an airport anywhere in the the world the lovely Ahmed from Morocco Expert Tours (MET) was a welcome sight greeting us as we emerged from Customs, grim faced, without our baggage.

As Rob and I pondered all the things that were likely to prevent us reconnecting with all our precious travel aids we tried to focus on our new surroundings and what we were embarking on in our two week tour of Morocco. Casablanca is the industrial and financial centre of Morocco and the drive into the city centre certainly showed us its rambling, harsh, unfinished, city under construction aspect. There were lots of traffic jams (and at least 3 accidents we saw) so it took us almost another hour to get to our hotel.....but not the one we were expecting. Instead of the beachside Hotel Club Val D'infa we are booked into a pretty basic city centre hotel with erratic aircon and very quirky systems.

Despite our bad moods Rob and I are lucky to be with our friends Jennie and Wayne who succeed in making us enjoy a wonderful first meal in Morocco at the gorgeous Etiole Centrale restaurant just around the corner from our funny Oum Hotel. We head back to bed with neither of us feeling confident we'll ever see our carefully packed bags again, given the chaos of our airport experience. We both toss and turn for a long while working out how we'll cope, at least until we get to Spain where the shops are a bit more accessible.  Youssef our MET man of the moment turns out to be super apologetic about the hotel mess up...has an explanation and makes a peace offering that is somewhat reassuring.

We turn up to breakfast yesterday, our first morning in Morocco in our 30 hour travel clothes (thank goodness for the Emirates toothbrushes we saved from the flight). Maxie and Rod join us at breakfast so our party is complete. Our friends are wonderfully supportive sharing deodorant, undies and sox and a fresh razor for Rob. Our funny hotel turns on a wonderful breakfast (and the staff are lovely) which we really enjoy. We meet up with Rachid and Mohammad our MET driver and guide for the next two weeks and we are immediately at ease in their charming and intelligent company and beautifully equipped new vehicle. Rachid promises me he will sort our baggage problem for us!

First stop is at Casablanca's wonderful Hassan 11 Mosque, a stupendous yet highly refined and beautiful architectural marvel that took only 6 years to build in the late 80s-mid 90s, costing the people many millions of dollars but also demonstrating the amazing skills of the country's artisans and builders. Jennie organises us a private guide so we can really gain the most out of our of our short visit.









We then take a look at the Corniche (coast), the popular beach side area of Casablanca city, lined with private clubs, restaurants and drinking spots with their own areas of private beach. On this greyed over misty day it all looks a bit down at heel to our eyes, but easily the most "charming" area of Casablanca we've seen in our short stay.



We then make the trek back to the airport and to our relief and amazement our bags are found!!! We are overjoyed and grateful for the sound systems and care taken by staff at the airport despite the apparent chaos. No marks for Emirates who were no help at all! We are also grateful to our friends for their support and good humour in spending another hour or so that they didn't need to at this awful airport!

Rob and I skip back to the vehicle (with our bags) and we head off on the long drive (345kls), 5-6 hours with stops, northwards along the coast then through the Rif mountains to Chefchaouen.

It's around 9.00pm before we've settled into our rooms at the exquisite Lina Riad & Spa. We love the look of this blue painted village perched on the southern side of the mountain range and find our late evening meal on the terrace of a little cafe deep in the laneways surrounding the main square absolutely sensational!



We were shocked to be charged about $50 for the 6 of us for this wonderful meal (including drinks) - that's around $9 something each!  The lamb with "plums" (prunes) was our favourite - and we all find the Moroccan bread is to die for! Luckily, there are a lot of steps to be climbed in this village.



2 comments:

rossie l said...

Oh no you poor things. What an awful thing to happen. So glad you got your luggage back and the next leg of your journey was so wonderful. That blue colour is amazing. Safe journeys. X

Dan Grunseit said...

Hello group of six from Canberra,
Youssef sent me a link to your Blog on Morocco Thank you for all your lovely photos and notes on what you experienced. We are a group of six too around your age from the Central Coast of NSW who are wanting to see Morocco January 2017. We are checking out the different Tour companies who do private tours for 6 people rather than go with a larger group on an expensive tour bus . All of your riads look wonderful.The vehicle you travelled in looks good. We will all have a large bag each and backpacks and wonder how there was room in the van??
My email address is ldgrunseit@gmail.com if you could reply. Thanks Lorraine Grunseit.