Friday, June 26, 2015

Here's Looking at You, Kid!

Yay! Morocco! I've always wanted to visit Morocco and I am so excited that me and the kid finally made it! Even though the airfare was a tad on the expensive side for spring and there could have been a chance of cheaper tickets at a later date, I really really wanted to go NOW! So, like the spoiled child my momma tried not to make me, I spent the money and here we are!

*Just FYI, this blog is a scrapbook of sorts for me. So I can keep track of everything I'm doing and what has happened. I can look back in a few years and be like, yea, look where I've been. So this trip is chock full of photos! Hope you enjoy them. And you can always just page down quickly until something catches your eye!

2 happy campers headed to Morocco!

We flew with Qatar airlines which was quite nice except we had a 7 hour layover in Doha!! Once we arrived in Doha, we went to the transfer desk, and there was some sign about hotels which I didn't understand. The lady took our tickets and clacked away on the computer for awhile then said, "I'm sorry but we don't seem to have a hotel reservation for you." I told her that we didn't have a hotel booked and she said, "but ma'am, your flight doesn't leave til 2am!" Luckily, we were able to purchase visa's for about $55 and we headed into town. The taxi dropped us at this huge square building and said go inside. We went in, and there were all these little shops and cafes.

Blurry but shows the air before the sandstorm.

A fountain inside the artists studio building.

The side of a building.

So we looked around, bought some souvenirs and then, suddenly while we were eating, a sandstorm hit! And I mean it came out of nowhere! Suddenly people were running all over, a bunch of folks came into our restaurant, employees took masks out from somewhere. The sand was hitting the windows so hard you could hear them cracking.

Folks disappeared quick! 

Had to wrap up just to breathe!

Taxi ride in a sandstorm!
Because of this, of course, our flight was delayed! I don't know if it was better or worse that they boarded the flight, but then had us sitting there at the jetway for forever!

But, at last, we arrived in Casablanca!! Where I rented a car (the answer to your question is, yes! I am crazy! Driving in Morocco!!) and, ask me if I knew the car was a stick shift, which I haven't driven in a million years! And we drove off to explore! I didn't even stall out, thank you very much!

Renting the car!
 So, apparently, they rent you a car with an empty gas tank, so you can return it empty, too! We barely made it to the gas station! Literally, the car was sputtering because it took forever to find a gas station. We kept stopping and asking people who only spoke french and they didn't understand the word "petrol". I thought that's how they said it in French but I guess not!

So, I guess you wait for the green light in the middle of the round about here!
We went to Hassan II Mosque and then to a restaurant to eat before leaving Casablanca for Rabat.

This close to the ocean it was really foggy, but not too cold. Ajenai said it reminded her of San Francisco. We miss fog! I think my hair was also happy to see the fog as it drank it up like a sponge!

I love the architecture here! It is amazing, especially the beautiful mosque's.

I was fascinated by the building. The architecture was completely beautiful of course. I loved all the doors!

I was told that you could see all the way across to the other side! On a clear day of course! There was this guy in the water swimming, of all things! I know his butt was freezing!

Oh yea, so this happened. So it turns out, for some reason, my google maps is really terrible. Like the kid has to move the map with her finger or else it won't move, terrible! It doesn't show landmarks or speak or even have written instructions! I don't know what that's about but we're having a bit of trouble with navigation! We found a good restaurant on TripAdvisor that was near us and set out to find it. Couldn't find it! Map said we were there but we obviously were not. We decided to park and walk around to see if we could find the spot. After 10 minutes, the kid said lets just forget it and drive to Rabat. We go back to our car, and there's a hideous, yellow boot on it! I was like, WTF?! This guy comes out of nowhere and is like, "didn't pay park". And I said where? He pointed vaguely down the block which showed no sign of any sort of parking meter contraption. He said, " you call." and then he started to write down something on his hand. I am not gonna lie, I almost started crying at this point! I haven't even been in the country 24 hours yet! And this! I took out my phone and asked him to dial the number. He puts a 50 into the phone. I just stare at him like, call this? And he says, "you give me". Ahhhhh, I got it... it's a shakedown! And luckily for me, 50 Moroccan dirham is about $5 bucks! So this ended with a win! I am going to be totally paranoid about parking this car the rest of the trip now!

Luckily, we found a restaurant and the food was delicious! And it had an attached bakery that was to die for! So of course I bought way more sweets then we could actually eat!

One of the main reasons I wanted to drive was to see the beautiful country side of Morocco! All along the way we kept seeing herds of sheep,with sheep herders too! I've seen lots of sheep on roads in different countries, but I've never seen people with the herds! And most of these sheep herders were women.

Finally made it to Rabat! Again, I'm amazed by the architecture. I love all the doors here! The buildings look old and kind of run down (probably because I am coming from brand new Abu Dhabi!) but the doors are so beautiful!

In Rabat we stayed in the heart of the Medina. Medina's are like huge outdoor shopping areas, but they also are full of houses. So you could have your shop right below your home. And the Medina's are the heart of every city!

Our next stop was the jewel city of Chefchaouen. I was dying to get to this town even if it was waaaay up north in Morocco. It is known as the "blue city". And it is a place where people of Jewish, Muslim, and Christian faiths resided in peace as exiles from Spain. The architecture is reminiscent of all 3 faiths; the blue paint from Judaism, the open interior courtyards from the European Christians, and the domes and minarets from the Muslims.

The drive was not that long and surprisingly easy; "first on the left and straight on until morning"! (Peter Pan for those who couldn't figure it out! lol)

When my leg got a cramp I pulled over to the side of the road. We saw this beautiful overgrown grave site and a road that curved into nowhere.

And we drove around the curve in the road, and the town of Chefchaouen opened up before us! It was an incredible sight!

Welcome to Chefchaouen! The door into the town.

Of course, even with a paper map and a bad google map app, I got lost! So we called the couple we were staying with and said "help!" And the lovely Ricardo offered to come and get us!

Watching some lovely boys play futball while we wait for Ricardo to pick us up!

Our room is so cute! The bottom floor of the house has 4 rooms which are rented out to Air B n B. There is a shared bathroom and WC. Their is an open air dining room on the roof and the tippy top level is the owners apartment.

Love this view!

This is the open dining area.

The stairs leading down to our room.

The view outside my window!

The sign to look for to find our home!
Ok, so, this was a loooong time coming! Of course I have 100's more photos and commentary and I will get those out as soon as I can!

Ciao for now!

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