The birthday budget traveler flew the coop and it all started yesterday in Casablanca which takes me into day 2 of my birthday trip.
I arrived via train to the airport around noon to catch my flight to Casablanca. I was traveling on an airline that I never heard of — Transavia. It is a code share partner of KLM (Delta). Remember from the Birthday Budget Traveler blog, I want my mileage points.
I had an exceptional tour guide who took me around the city. We visited the Mosque, the “new city”, the Malls, the boardwalk and the market. He allowed me to explore on my own with the assurance that I had someone close by and which then turned a bad experience into a frightening situation and unpleasant first impression of their city into a beautiful experience.
The flight was delayed and my seat was in the last row of the airplane with the kids. ? Nonetheless after requesting a seat change, we arrived safely.
Now allow me to tell you about the “madhouse” at Casablanca airport.
- The lines to get through custom must be 5k/3mi and it takes about an hour. So arrive with patience. The good news is free Wi-Fi
- After you clear customs, you must show your passport again to show that you cleared customs. The guard must see the stamp.
- Baggage claim is like every baggage claim in any other airport. This is just another exercise of patience.
- Once you claim your bag and before exiting the airport, you then must go through another security checkpoint where you place your bag to be scanned. I haven’t figured out the logic of this one.
Once I exited the security area, a person greeted me by name which I assumed was my driver. However, that was not the case.
Prior to arriving to Casablanca, I contacted the hotel for transportation service since I would be arriving after 9 pm.
He told me to follow him. He then takes me to another guy and said 400 MAD ($40). I said “no”. “The hotel stated that they would charge the cost to my room”. I became suspicious. I then started looking around and saw my Sheraton driver with my full name. The other guy took off.
I have several theories on this incident but I plan on putting certain things in place for this not to happen again. That will be another blog post.
Just know that I made it safely to my hotel and I am able to blog about it.
Today – Casablanca
Well today’s budget went right out the window and just flew the coop.
- Breakfast was 280 MAD ($28)
- Lunch was 338 MAD ($33)
- Private Tour guide 600 MAD ($60)
After the incident, I basically got scared and leery. I needed comfort and assurance. I decided to stay close to the hotel and only do activities they recommended. The above gave me that confidence I needed.
So, allow me talk about my private tour which is one of the reasons to travel and visit Casablanca.
I had an exceptional tour guide who took me around the city. We visited the Mosque, the “new city”, the Malls, the boardwalk and the market. He allowed me to explore on my own with the assurance that I had someone close by changing a frightening situation and unpleasant first impression of their city into a beautiful experience.
Below are pictures of my journey back to independence as well as some history.
Casablanca is the largest city in Morocco and at one time it was the capital. Casablanca means “white house”. The primary languages are French and Arabic.
The Hassan II Mosque
The Hassan II is the largest Mosque in Morocco and the 13th largest in the world. Its minaret is the world’s tallest at 210 metres (689 ft) and it was completed in 1993.
There are two malls in Casablanca – Morocco Mall and Anfaplace Shopping Center. I just drove by them.
Now when I saw the Atlantic Ocean, it felt like home. It reminded me of Hollywood Beach boardwalk in South Florida with so many runners, couples, and children.
The “New Medina”
The “new city” includes newer homes, landscaping, shops and restaurants within the revitalized areas. Also, they maintained the cultural architecture of the French.
The Market where the locals sold their items was very colorful. I stayed strong and didn’t purchase anything.
Then I ended up having a fascination with doors whole walking through the market. The beauty of the architectural doors was an attraction in themselves.
I couldn’t just leave you without talking about the food. So far the dishes have been tasty and I am going outside my comfort zone.
First up is Moroccan Tea. My friends keep telling me that it looks like beer. Guess what it isn’t. It is pretty good. I take mine without sugar or milk to enjoy the flavor.
Next up is beetroot and any other tasty vegetable I can put on my plate. Don’t tell anyone, I went back for seconds
Lastly couscous with vegetable. Now, I have had couscous but not like this. When I discovered the chickpeas, I was in foodie heaven. The dish also had zucchini and carrots.
Well I am off to my next stop.