Saturday, March 1

Morocco-Andalucia, Day Four: As Time Goes By

The original plan was to leave Marrakech yesterday after Jummah, spending the night in Casablanca. The change of plan was due to family wanting to check out Casa too; and so we all set off on the three hour drive to the coastal town together for the day.

Despite being the title and location for one of the biggest films of the forties, Casa itself was pretty underwhelming at first. There just didn't appear that much to see or do here. We started off with the Cathedrale du Sacre Coeur, and left wondering if we had wasted our time coming up.

That was until we saw Mosquee Hassan II.

A part of me wonders if it's ironic marvelling at mosques like that of Hassan II. Truly awesome and definitely impressive, I'd say that Casa is worth a visit just to see it, particularly if you happen to be a Muslim. The sheer scale of the place is amazing and something you only really consider after walking a good five minutes across the expanse that it its courtyard. New, shiny, modern yet classic I'm running out of adjectives trying to describe it. Just go see the pictures already.

After offering Zhur/midday prayer at Hassan II, we ate. Lunch was provided courtesy of Pizza Hut. Interestingly the whole place was served exclusively by women, three of whom were down right pretty; all of a sudden I was even more excited to explore the rest of Morocco. We also noticed another common Moroccan phenomenon: that of relationships involving older men with much younger women. Very bizarre and unsettling... yet comforting at the same time. Cough splutter.

We then headed to Ain Diab a few miles west along the coast. Ever since Australia, I've come to expect a great deal from non-UK beaches and Ain Diab wasn't disappointing. Clean and fine, we spent the rest of the afternoon paddling in the Atlantic and basking in the warm sun, watching the youth of Casa play beach football and volleyball. We all simultaneously wondered what it would be like to live in the vicinity of such a place.

But at last it was time to say goodbye. I was to continue my journey east, to Rabat, while my family was to return to Marrakech. After being dropped off at Casa Port we said our goodbyes and parted ways.

I arrived in Rabat around an hour later. From my journey I concluded that the Moroccan rail system was an order better than that of the UK's: it was more cheap, efficient and comfortable than anything I had used anyway.

After booking into a hotel close to the station, I sought out the Grand Mosque in order to offer my Esha or night prayer. Between that and finding something to eat I quickly got my bearings in Rabat; everything appeared to be within walking distance and the streets seem safe with the people friendly.

After dinner I ended up in the cafe at Hotel Belima, a cup of hot chocolate at my table, partly reading my book and partly watching the people go by. I knew then that I'd enjoy my time in Morocco's capital.

I saw two pretty girls walking by; not a usual sight from what I had noticed walking around Rabat at night. Probably unsurprisingly they were continually being called upon by passing guys and did well to ignore them all - except for a particularly persistent fellow who decided to take the complete ignoring of him as a indication to follow his quarry for a good couple of minutes.

The girls finally broke and had a conversation with their stalker. After a further three or four minutes the guy left, the number of one of the girls in his mobile phone. I was glad to see that the pattern of girls getting hassled, ignoring and then relenting and finally exchanging numbers was an international occurrence. Good stuff.

I whiled the rest of the night reading some more in the central boulevard bit of green in Avenue Mohammed V, thinking about where I was. This was the first time I had been on holiday by myself and I was loving it; it certainly wasn't as scary or boring as I feared it would be.

All that was left to do was to eat at a fancy restaurant on my own and I would have completed the loner hat-trick of holiday, food and cinema.