No, 'magical' didn't happen straight away.
Imagine no fresh clothes to change into after some 13 hours flight (and no panties for the next 2 days??). To arrive in the miserably cold-and-wet slump-city sure lit my fire in all the wrong places. So, it did not start off nice at all. We had arrived from Istanbul, our bags however did NOT (I had a sick feeling already when we got off the plane). Many of our associates and friends told us later, some have lost their luggage, others stolen at this airport. Bloody hell if only we had known earlier??!
Anyway, several boiling moments with SUPER rude airport staff, a few kilometers on foot between terminals and a couple of wasted hours of waiting later, we could only be sure of one thing - we won't get a call from anyone tomorrow even if our bags do get into this forsaken airport. Sure enough we did NOT. Good thing we got to the airport an extra hour earlier before our flight to Marrakech. Ridiculous as it sounds, we had to search for our bags ourselves. Like rummage-through-the-piles type search - what a friggin mess! Heaps of luggage sprawled on the floor all around the entire belt area, some stacked on top of one another, others still lying on the conveyor belts unattended. I reckoned why bother asking anyone for anything. YES! We found ours but oops rejoicing too soon. Ali baba and his thieves had been in friggin action... great. The insides of my bag was as much of a mad house like their Casablanca road traffic system. Every zip opened, every pouch emptied and everything well and truly ransacked. They however stole only one thing from me.... but it was my favorite Juicy Couture gold-plated chain necklace - one which I've had for years:( The fucker probably thought he scored big on gold??! My hubby's silver cufflings were gone too. Not a fitness freak nor a Madonna fan I suppose? My Nike trainers and the bunch of Addicted To Sweat DVDs were untouched. So there it was, a very bad start.
Casablanca is exactly what it is, a FICTIONAL romantic American film. Well, perhaps back in the day the city might have been splendid, sophisticated even. I pictured The Great Gatsby... and I equated Casablanca to elegance. Now seeing is believing, Casablanca is better off as a swear word. The capital city of Morocco too! I mean, REALLY???! Nowhere to see, to go or do (not even the beach front of the Atlantic Ocean). Nothing. The slump is a sad sight and the airport is but one big shit hole. Sorry. Unorderly, filled with rude hostile scary people, just practically a nightmare of a place. Even cab drivers are pretty hopeless. Do haggle your price before getting on. No meter system.
There was however something positively memorable though. I had the best Lamb Tagine here at a restaurant called Al Mounia - the most delish yet (even after Marrakech). It was here in Casablanca that I've had my first ever taste of a real Moroccan restaurant, decor and all.
And my first ever Hammam experience was also here. Yeah.... decided to let off steam at the Art Palace Spa Hotel where we stayed. A good wash in a hot place I thought, sounded like heaven! Quite a nice little space in the basement with a heated (though not hot enough) rock pool. But the steamy hot bath room was nice!
So I had this chick come in and washed my whole body. Decadent! She smeared this black paste all over my body while I was lying down on this hot marble bed. Mmmmm I felt like Cleopatra haha! I found out later, they call this black paste Savon Noir which is made of olive oil, very nourishing stuff my skin felt good). Then she put on the kissa glove (more like sand paper!!!!!) and scrubbed the life out of me!!!! I didn't quite expect it to be so uncomfortable.... even painful! Then she washed all that stuff off me including all my disgusting dead skin, then smeared me all over with a white paste this time. Then she left me in the hot room to steam for about 10 minutes. AaaaHhhhhh..... I like this part. When she came back in, she washed everything off me again. I felt new! But more importantly I felt CLEAN! I paid 900 Dirham (about 90 Euros - quite steep when you can do it at a local hammam for only 10 Dirham? Then again, can't guarantee how hygenic any local ones are). Oh, beware of Arab men who WILL try to pick you up. Just one day in Casablanca is just about enough;)
Also, if you're a real nutter like me, don't miss out on buying pistachios, almonds and walnuts! They're the freshest and sweetest I've had. But buy them only from inside the souks because it's cheaper compared to vendors at the main square (almonds at 85 DIRH/100g compared to 120DIRH).
- Savon Noir (hammam black soap)
- Kohl make-up
- Moroccan Mint Tea
- Amber cubes (used as moth balls - sold in grams)
- Musk cubes (body deodorant - sold in grams)
- Nigella seeds + Eucalyptus crystals (for colds)
- Argan Oil (for cosmetic use)
- Pumice stones
- Natural red lipstick (stained by poppy flowers)
- Saffron (if you fancy)
- Tagine spices
- crystal mineral rock (deodorant)
|View from my hotel room : Atlas Mountain|
|Gorgeous Sofitel Marrakech in full Moroccan flavor|
|the epitome of Marrakech - a city of unexpected secret places|
|The hanging garden... the riad's main pool|
|Stairway to heaven|
|the spa pool|
|the spa lounge|
|the spa lounge|
|amazing attention to detail|
|my next hang-out!|
|Of crimson &Branson|
(Riad El Fenn is owned by Vanessa Branson - sister of Richard Branson)
|my absolute favourite spot for hot mint tea|
|this hole in the wall will leave you breathless and famished for more...|
|I'm however not sated, not yet spent. We'll be back!|