Dreamtrip: Paradise Island, Bahamas

Where to Stay, Things to Do, and Places to Eat on Paradise Island

I felt like I needed some beach time in the winter, so I booked a trip through my vacation club, World Ventures, the largest private club in the world.  The club provides pre-packaged trips as well as a booking engine for flight, hotels, VRBO, cruises, and rental cars.  It also includes an online shopping mall with virtually every retailer as well as discounts at local restaurants and events.

I didn’t want to have to think about anything for this relaxing vacation, so I picked a four-night trip to the Bahamas.  I flew from Denver while my friend Max came from Dallas.  Miraculously, both of our flights were on time and our bags came off the carousels next to each other in baggage claim, so we were off to paradise quickly! Continue reading “Dreamtrip: Paradise Island, Bahamas”

Advertisements

Washington DC Post Now Available on GPSMyCity!

June 19, 2017

I’m pleased to announce another blog post has been turned into an app with a GPS Map and is available on GPSMyCity.

You may wonder, “What’s the big deal? I can read the travel post on your blog.” Well, yes, assuming you have access to the internet, you can read my article on my blog.

But what if you don’t have access to the internet? Do you really want to use your data? Better yet, what if you are in a different country, and you don’t have a cell service plan for the place you are visiting?

This is where the new travel app concept offered by GPSMyCity is quite useful. GPSMyCity produces city walk apps for nearly 750 cities worldwide. Want to see the sites in Paris? There’s an app for that. Want to try different restaurants in Malaga, Spain? There’s an app for that. You can download each travel article for FREE and read it whenever you like…in the airport, on the plane or street corner, or wherever!

20161102_045928000_ios-small

Should you wish to have a GPS-guided tour and map along with the article, all you have to do is upgrade for $1.99.

20161102_050852000_ios

 

New post available:

A Long Weekend in Washington DC

http://www.gpsmycity.com/tours/a-long-weekend-in-washington-dc-3572.html

Africa

Amazing Medina in Marrakesh, Morocco
http://www.gpsmycity.com/tours/amazing-medina-in-marrakesh–morocco-3321.html

Maneuvering Marrakesh
http://www.gpsmycity.com/tours/maneuvering-marrakesh-3405.html

Excellent Time in Essaouira
http://www.gpsmycity.com/tours/excellent-time-in-essaouira-3415.html

Casablanca…The White House!
http://www.gpsmycity.com/tours/casablancathe-white-house-3450.html

El Jadida…A Coastal Town in Morocco
http://www.gpsmycity.com/tours/el-jadida–a-coastal-town-inmorocco-3505.html

Don’t forget the rest of my articles that are available on GPSMyCity:

Asia

A Day Tour of Bangkok, Thailand
http://www.gpsmycity.com/tours/a-day-tour-of-bangkok-340.html

A Walking Tour of Narita, Japan
http://www.gpsmycity.com/tours/a-walking-tour-of-narita–japan-459.html

Central and South America

18 Hour Layover in Buenos Aires, Argentina
http://www.gpsmycity.com/tours/18-hour-layover-in-buenos-aires-2599.html

Strolling Around Santiago, Chile
http://www.gpsmycity.com/tours/strolling-around-santiago–chile-426.html

Tips for Planning your Hiking Trip to Patagonia (Chile and Argentina)
http://www.gpsmycity.com/tours/tips-for-planning-your-hiking-trip-to-patagonia-2715.html

The Markets and Cathedrals of Granada, Nicaragua
http://www.gpsmycity.com/tours/the-markets-and-cathedrals-of-granada-337.html

Cuba

An American in Cuba!
http://www.gpsmycity.com/tours/an-american-in-cuba-3114.html

Cienfuegos and Trinidad, Cuba
http://www.gpsmycity.com/tours/cienfuegos-and-trinidad–cuba-3146.html

Cuban Farms…How to Roll a Habano!
http://www.gpsmycity.com/tours/cuban-farmshow-to-roll-ahabano-3122.html

Las Terrazas and Vinales… A Treat for Nature Lovers
http://www.gpsmycity.com/tours/las-terrazas-and-vinales-a-treat-for-naturelovers-3123.html

Treasures of Trinidad
http://www.gpsmycity.com/tours/treasures-of-trinidad-3145.html

Trinidad to Havana and What Falls in Between
http://www.gpsmycity.com/tours/from-trinidad-to-havana-and-what-falls-inbetween-3178.html

The Streets of Habana Vieja and Fusterlandia – Part I
http://www.gpsmycity.com/tours/the-streets-of-habana-vieja-and-fusterlandia—part-i-3113.html

The Streets of Habana Vieja and Fusterlandia – Part II –
http://www.gpsmycity.com/tours/the-streets-of-habana-vieja-and-fusterlandia—part-ii-3121.html

Europe

Castles in Copenhagen, Denmark
http://www.gpsmycity.com/tours/castles-in-copenhagen-326.html

Cycling in Copenhagen, Denmark
http://www.gpsmycity.com/tours/cycling-in-copenhagen-325.html

Loved Tallinn, Estonia!
http://www.gpsmycity.com/tours/loved-tallinn–estonia-313.html

Adventures in Paris, France
http://www.gpsmycity.com/tours/adventures-in-paris-338.html

Adventures in Paris, France Part 2
http://www.gpsmycity.com/tours/adventures-in-paris-part-2-339.html

The Coastal Trail from Monterosso to Vernazza, Italy
http://www.gpsmycity.com/tours/the-coastal-trail-from-monterosso-tovernazza-2602.html

Rounding Out Cinque Terre…Riomaggiore and Corniglia, Italy
http://www.gpsmycity.com/tours/rounding-out-cinque-terreriomaggiore-andcorniglia-2601.html

Oslo, Norway and the Outskirts
http://www.gpsmycity.com/tours/oslo–norway-and-the-outskirts-2317.html

Cruising Around Gdansk, Poland
http://www.gpsmycity.com/tours/cruising-around-gdansk–poland-310.html

Imperial St. Petersburg, Russia
http://www.gpsmycity.com/tours/imperial-st-petersburg-329.html

Sightseeing in Stockholm, Sweden
http://www.gpsmycity.com/tours/sightseeing-in-stockholm-311.html

The Middle East

Dubai, UAE and Its International Appeal
http://www.gpsmycity.com/tours/dubai-and-its-international-appeal-327.html

North America

Tour of Tombstone, Arizona
http://www.gpsmycity.com/tours/tour-of-tombstone-342.html

Denver Brewery Tour, Colorado
http://www.gpsmycity.com/tours/denver-brewery-tour-2620.html

On and Off the Vegas Strip, Nevada
http://www.gpsmycity.com/tours/on-and-off-the-vegasstrip-2597.html

Adventure in Albuquerque, New Mexico
http://www.gpsmycity.com/tours/adventure-in-albuquerque-341.html

Exploring the San Antonio Missions, Texas
http://www.gpsmycity.com/tours/exploring-the-san-antonio-missions-2605.html

WANT TO VACATION SOONER?  IF SO, THIS VACATION CLUB IS FOR YOU!

Get the gist here: http://www.ratpacknation.net/pages/can-i-do-it

Want more details, click here:http://www.ratpacknation.net/pages/featured

To browse experiences or to sign up, click here:http://www.bethbankhead.dreamtrips.com

For notecards, key chains, or photographs, visit Notable Notecards or Niche Notecards on Etsy. A portion of the sales are donated to charity and a travel story is associated with each one.

A Long Weekend in Washington D.C.

April 14-18, 2017

A few long weekends in our Nation’s capital is all it takes to see the best sites of D.C.  I came to D.C. as a teenager as part of a field trip for our middle school.  We saw Mt. Vernon, colonial Williamsburg, the capitol building, the Washington Monument, the Smithsonian, and a few of the memorials.  While it was over 30 years ago, some sites have remained the same and others have expanded.  As such, I touched on some newer ones.

Suman and I started our weekend flying into Dulles on Thursday morning as the flight options were a bit cheaper on the Easter holiday weekend which also included our birthdays.  We spent the night with her family in McLean which was lovely before we came into the city the following day.

We were on a DreamTrip and fortunate that we could check into the Westin Georgetown early!  We were booked in a room on the top floor, but seeing as how the hotel was only eight stories high, we didn’t have an amazing view of anything.  Regardless, it was nice our room was ready and even nicer to be given a complimentary bottle of wine for our birthdays.  I had jokingly asked for an upgrade for our birthdays, and while they couldn’t accommodate us, Yarnell was quick to offer us wine to celebrate.

We spent the afternoon wandering around Georgetown.  As we passed by a variety of brick buildings featuring store fronts and restaurants, we stumbled upon the Old Stone House.  Dating from 1765, Old Stone House is the oldest structure on its original foundation in the Nation’s capital!  A myth saved the home from destruction like other structures of the era.  It was thought that George Washington and L’Enfant, who helped design the capital met here, but that is not the case.  We took a few minutes to check out the four rooms which housed a variety of antiques.

Afterwards, we strolled a few more blocks before we settled on a birthday drink and people watching before we went to Firefly for my birthday dinner.  It was so fun to catch up with my friends and cousin who I haven’t seen for several years.  The restaurant was crowded with a great atmosphere and the food was good.  It was a fun night out!

As part of our DreamTrip, on Saturday we boarded the Spirit of Washington and took a cruise along the Potomac River.  Lunch and two free drinks were included on the excursion.  The chef on the boat was really good.  I loved the mashed potatoes which generally aren’t my favorite.  The lower deck of the boat included a DJ and dance floor where some people boogied to the upbeat music.  We climbed the stairs to the top deck where we enjoyed the nice weather, and I would say beautiful views, but there was not too much to see except a few cherry blossom trees still in bloom!

After our lunch cruise, we walked to some of the newer memorials.  We started at the Korean War Memorial where there were 19 soldiers and a granite wall with photos of actual soldiers engraved into the wall.  The soldiers are dressed in rain gear, hold communicative devices, and are depicted hiking through scrub similar to the way they would have experienced the war.  The 19 soldiers reflect on the wall, making a total of 38 which represents the 38th parallel that runs between North and South Korea.

From the Korean War Memorial, we crossed the street to the Martin Luther King Memorial.  A tall standing MLK was carved out of a stone looking toward the Jefferson Memorial located across the man-made tidal basin.  A wall around the area included several of King’s famous quotes.

From the Martin Luther King Memorial, we walked back toward the greenway to the World War II Memorial complete with fountains.  The memorial included columns for all the states and the US territories as well as large columns for both the Pacific and Atlantic wars.

After a brief rest at the World War II Memorial, we continued to the White House.  Apparently, there was an incident early in the day, and the area was evacuated, but we missed that.  Instead, we snapped a quick photo of the green lawn that was prepped for the Easter Egg roll on Monday before we headed back to the hotel to get ready for Suman’s birthday.

Suman planned her shindig at Zatinya a large and popular middle eastern restaurant in D.C..  We ordered small plates for the table to share.  The best dishes were the spicy sausage pizza and seared cheese.  It was a nice night that Suman extended with two other friends at Flight Wine Bar.

Since Friday and Saturday were somewhat mellow, I packed in things to do in D.C. on Sunday.  I started by taking the Metro down to Captain White’s Seafood Market.  The Metro is slightly complicated for a large, well established city like D.C..  The fares are different based on mileage and peak/offpeak times.  I had to buy a card for $2 and then add the amount of money I needed for each ride.  IT just took a little reading.

To get to the docks where Captain White’s was located I rode the Metro to the L’Enfant Plaza stop and walked the rest of the way.  The docks were under construction and the parking lot was crowded, though the market wasn’t too busy yet.  I hoped for a quiet market, and it is why I went for crabs at 8:45 in the morning!  I had read that the folks at the dock weren’t too excited to help their customers and such reviews were correct.  I stood there without anyone acknowledging me until they asked another man if he needed help, and he replied, “She was first.”

The market had bins of oysters, shrimp, as well as male and female crabs of all sizes.  Live crabs pinched at each other as they were collected into bushels and half bushels for customers.  I believe I could have purchased a couple of live crabs and had them steamed on site, but the unhelpfulness of the staff led me to buy two pre-cooked crabs as I thought this would be easier.  Little did I know they weren’t freshly cooked!  Instead they were frozen and needed to be heated up.  This was a bit of a bummer as they didn’t taste great, but the experience of getting a whole crab, a mallet, a brown bag with seasoning, and the ability to crack the crab while looking out on the water made my Easter morning special!

I finished up breakfast just in time to stroll to the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum.  This is one of the most popular museums in D.C. and the line out front to enter at opening confirmed it!  After about thirty minutes, I entered the free museum full of missiles and planes.  I enjoyed seeing the tomahawk missile, the Apollo exhibit, and The Explorer II a pressurized gondola that reached 72,395 feet and held the world record for 20 years.  There were also exhibits on World War I and II, as well as the Wright Brothers and Charles Lindbergh.  The most surprising exhibit, and likely my favorite was of artist renderings of WWI by soldier artists. The US Army commissioned eight artists who joined forces and depicted a variety of scenes from the war.  It was cool!

Lunch called my name, and my cousin Kari tipped me off to a great café called Sculpture Garden Pavillion Cafe tucked in a park with a fountain and sculptures at the National Gallery of Art.  I strolled through the sculpture garden of modern art, passed by the fountain, found a table in the shade and enjoyed a refreshing salad before I continued on to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.

There were several exhibits at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History which I enjoyed including the ocean exhibit, a nature photography exhibit, and a mineral and gem exhibit.  The most interesting, however, was to see the Hope Diamond.  I had only heard of it and certainly didn’t know the whole story, so to learn more about it was fun.

No one knows exactly when and where the diamond was discovered, but it is thought to be discovered prior to 1668 in the Golconda area of India.  The diamond started out at 112 3/16 carats (more than twice the size of the current gem).  It was sold to King Louis XIV of France in 1668.  In 1673, the King has the gem recut to 67 1/8 carats to be set as a pendant.  In 1792, the diamond was stolen during the reign of King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette and remained lost for 20 years.  It resurfaced in London in 1812 after being reduced in size by twenty carats.  At some point over the next ten years or so, the diamond was sold to King George IV.  Upon the King’s death in the 1830’s, Henry Philip Hope, a gem collector, purchased the diamond.  It remained in the Hope family until 1901 when it was passed among diamond merchants.  In 1912, Evelyn Walsh McLean bought the Hope Diamond from Pierre Cartier in its current setting.  Harry Winston, a prominent New York jeweler, purchased the gem from McLean’s estate in 1949 and in 1958 donated it to the Smithsonian.  While there is no truth to it, the diamond was rumored to bring its owners bad luck, even death, thus increased fascination with the gem.

After a day on foot, I enjoyed a nice dinner with my cousin Kari at Founding Farmers, another very popular spot, especially on Easter.  We were able to snag two seats at the bar and enjoy some good southern shrimp and grits before we met up with Suman and Kelley for an evening tour of the memorials.  We used Big Bus Tours, though there were several operators to choose from with countless Groupon deals. We got more than half off the advertised rate.  The hop on/off bus of any sorts is worth every penny for a visitor not familiar with the D.C. area.

Our tour guide was energetic and funny and full of knowledge, most of which I assume was accurate, though some was not.  Regardless, we got the lay of the land, heard about almost every building on the route and saw several memorials while the sunset before we enjoyed the view at night as well.  There were a few museums and government buildings of which I was unaware.  First was the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the US Bureau of Engraving and Printing.  I wasn’t in the mood for sadness on this weekend, so I didn’t attend the Holocaust Museum, but I will add it to the list for my next long weekend visit to D.C.  The US Bureau of Engraving and Printing prints paper money and a same day tour may be arranged by waiting in line at 8:30am.  Next time, I will be organized enough to see this as well.

After making a few loops around the most popular sites of D.C., our bus stopped near the Lincoln Memorial where we took a tour of it, the Korean Memorial, and got a nice view of the Washington Monument which marks the center of the mall.  East of the Washington Monument is the Capitol Building, west is the Lincoln Memorial, south is the Jefferson Memorial, and north is the White House. It was nice night.

Currently, there is a very popular exhibit at the Smithsonian Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden called Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors.  From the pictures I’ve seen, it looks simply amazing.  Getting tickets is simply impossible.  Memberships to the museum are sold out because of this event.  Timed spaces are given out every Monday at noon and otherwise people must wait in line on the same day for a limited amount allotted.  Our guide said the line begins at 9 and ends at 9:30.  I thought since the exhibit ends in less than a month I should give it a shot in the morning.

This 9 to 9:30 tidbit of information wasn’t correct!  I got there at 9:10 and the line was at leasat 300 people deep if not more.  I met a few folks in line who lived in D.C. and were more informed than me.  The lady in front of me waited in the line three times!  They cut the line off just before her yesterday.  She said, once visitors wait for hours for a timed space, they are allowed only 30 seconds in each of the five rooms resulting in an experience of 2.5 minutes!!  Had I known that at the beginning, perhaps I would have skipped the waiting, but by the time I heard this, I had invested an hour.  We made it into the cordoned off area before they closed the line, but we were about 50 people back when they announced the 600 tickets were gone.  Oh well, it wasn’t a total bust.  The people I met were fun and I ran into a high school classmate…crazy!!  My tip would be to go on a weekday no later than 8:30, but the earlier the better to get early tickets.  On the weekends, show up by 7 and there’s a chance.

Normally I wouldn’t have waited around, but the artist is 88 years old and I didn’t see that the exhibit was traveling so it was a last chance to see it eventhough I had never planned on it.  I went on to visit the National Archives Building which was far less crowded.  It displayed the Constitution, the Magna Carta, the Emancipation Proclamation, and the Declaration of Independence among other old documents.  It was a neat place, but no pictures were allowed.

Finally, I visited the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.  I think I may have been “museumed out” by this time as I didn’t find it terribly interesting.  I did like seeing the original flag that flew during the battle that inspired the Star-Spangled Banner, but no pictures were allowed for it either.  None the less, it was a decent way to stay out of the rain, the only dreary day of our long weekend.  It was hard to believe that the day before was 89 degrees.  I should have walked by the Easter Egg Roll at the White House on my way back to the hotel, but my feet and back were ready for a rest after 30 miles of walking over the last few days.  Too bad I failed to synq my Fitbit before the end of the weekend.  I would have logged 100K steps for the week!  ETB

WANT TO TAKE THIS BLOG POST WITH YOU?

Click here to download it on the GPSMyCity Travel App:

A Long Weekend in Washington DC

WANT TO VACATION SOONER?  IF SO, THIS VACATION CLUB IS FOR YOU!

Get the gist here: http://www.ratpacknation.net/pages/can-i-do-it

Want more details, click here:http://www.ratpacknation.net/pages/featured

To browse experiences or to sign up, click here:http://www.bethbankhead.dreamtrips.com

For notecards, key chains, or photographs, visit Notable Notecards or Niche Notecards on Etsy. A portion of the sales are donated to charity and a travel story is associated with each one.

El Jadida, a Coastal Town in Morocco

March 12, 2017

Today we took a trip to El Jadida, a coastal town 100km southwest of Casablanca. The town is an old Portuguese port with a medina that is a UNSECO World Heritage Site. The town, previously called Mazagan, was controlled by the Portuguese from 1514 to 1769 until it was taken over by Sultan Mohammed ben Abdallah.

We started our tour at the Portuguese Cistern which was constructed in 1514 as a warehouse that possibly held armory before it was converted to a cistern in the 16th Century. The cistern was rediscovered in 1916 by the Moroccans when a shop owner was expanding his store and water came pouring through the wall.  The cistern collected water from the terraces when it rained. The damp cavern felt a little eerie, but the Gothic arches were quite lovely. Due to the reflections from the thin layer of water on the floor, many movies have been filmed here, including Orson Welles’ Othello.

After visiting the Cistern, we walked down the street to the Fortress of Mazagan. The star form of the fortress included walls eight meters high, ten meters thick, and a patrolling walkway that was quite wide.   We followed the path past old canons toward the busy fishing port and stopped to admire lovely panoramic views of the area.

From the fortress, we drove to the Mazagan Beach Resort for lunch and for the afternoon at the beach. This resort was spectacular. We joked we would have liked to stay here, and take a day trip to Casablanca. The property included a casino, golf course, spa, and a variety of restaurants and activities. We were treated to a fantastic buffet at La Cabane. The main buffet lined offered a variety of cooked entrees including tajines.  The side buffet displayed countless salads.  There was quite a selection of cheese.  The dessert bar was so pretty.  I particularly liked the sculpture made of chocolate!  We didn’t realize until after we finished eating, that we could have gone outside to the grill to get kabobs.  Make sure not to miss that!

After lunch, we walked down to the beach which was very windy and cold! Of course, it was unseasonably hot for two weeks except for our final day at the beach when the temperature dropped 20 degrees with the cold front that arrived. I sat in my puffy on the beach chairs as I watched the waves crash on the sand. Others laid covered in beach towels.  The smart folks found some chairs behind some glass that served as a nice wind break for a much more pleasant beach day.  I particularly liked these beach chairs. Each one had its own sunshade!

Soon we headed back to Casablanca for dinner at Cabestan, a fancy restaurant. We were seated upstairs with a view of the Atlantic. The service was similar to all of our other experiences…the food generally came before we could order a drink. We were served a salad and fish and a pastry for dessert. Don’t go to this restaurant without going to the restroom….particularly men. Very unique…the water of the toilet cascaded down the window, I’m told!

It was a nice final day in Morocco. Now we just have an 18 hour layover in Madrid tomorrow, before arriving back in the USA. What a good trip! ETB

WANT TO TAKE THIS BLOG POST WITH YOU?

Click here to download it on the GPSMyCity Travel App:

El Jadida: A Coastal Town in Morocco

WANT TO VACATION SOONER?  IF SO, THIS VACATION CLUB IS FOR YOU!

SHOP

For notecards and key chains, visit My Shop on this website or Etsy.  For other products and digital prints, visit My RedBubble Products and my portfolio 123RF.

Rambling Around Rabat

Today we took a day trip from Casablanca to Rabat, the capital city.  While driving the 87 km, we learned a little about Morocco.  Its population is 35 million of which 40% are Berber.  The Arab Moroccan dialect includes French and Spanish thus Arabs from the Middle East can’t understand Moroccans unless classic Arabic is used.  Morocco is more progressive than other Muslim nations.  Women can drive cars, over 70% of those studying to be a doctor are women, and Morocco even employs a woman judge.

Four different cities have once served as the capital of Morcocco…Fez, Marrakesh, Meknes, and Rabat.  The current capital, Rabat, is home to 1.6 million people.  Being the political capital, Rabat didn’t seem like it would be that interesting to me, yet I was pleasantly surprised by the 12 Century city.

Our first stop of the day was at Dar al-Makhzen, the royal palace and home to the king of Morocco.  We saw it from a roped off distance, and this time we were allowed to snap photos of the Royal Guards in winter red.  Our visit was quick and we moved on to the Hassan Tower.

Hassan Tower is an unfinished minaret of a mosque whose construction was abandoned with the death of Yaqoub al Mansour in 1199. Mansour, the fourth monarch of the Almohad dynasty, planned on building the largest mosque in the world.  Instead, the minaret which only reached 44 m, half of the intended height, and partly built columns and walls are all that remains of the mosque that also suffered from strong tremors of the 1555 Lisbon earthquake.

I really enjoyed exploring the complex which also included the Mausoleum of Mohammed V located on the edge of the rectangular square opposite the Hassan Tower.  The mausoleum, completed in 1971, contains the tomb of Mohammed V in the middle and the tombs of Hassan II on the left and Prince Abdallah on the right.

After taking in the view from complex, I joined our group as we headed to the medina.  This market was bustling!  I don’t know how, we as a group, managed to stay together.  Every vendor imaginable filled the area.  Locals shopped for food and clothing items while tourists looked at the handicrafts.  We browsed over the merchandise as we passed by each stall before we eventually stopped for lunch at Dar Arbatya for traditional Moroccan cuisine.

From lunch we visited Kasbah des Oudayas for a fantastic view of the Bou Regreg river and the Atlantic.  The kasbah, or fortress, was originally constructed in the 12 Century for defensive purposes.  Inside the kasbah, narrow corridors weaved past blue and white buildings.  The area populated with homes and businesses was quite sedate as compared to other places we visited.

We strolled past decorative doors, murals, lush potted plants, and cats (the animal of choice in Muslim countries), to a place where we could order tea while overlooking the Atlantic.  Next door was a garden.  I wandered through the garden while others rested at the tea house or shopped.

In the late afternoon, we headed back toward Casablanca. We passed aged towns with crowded markets along the way.  Our tour had dinner plans at Basman where we could taste more Moroccan cuisine and watch a belly dance.  Given we had eaten a tajine for lunch and dinner for most of the last two weeks, we bowed out of the late-night dinner.  Instead, I enjoyed a quiet sushi dinner at the hotel with our Icelandic friends while some others attended a music show at the Institut Français de Casablanca which was a few blocks from our hotel.  It was a nice day!  ETB

WANT TO TAKE THIS ARTICLE WITH YOU?  DOWNLOAD IT HERE WITH THIS GPSMyCity TRAVEL APP LINK:

Rambling Around Rabat

WANT TO VACATION SOONER?  IF SO, THIS VACATION CLUB IS FOR YOU!

SHOP

For notecards and key chains, visit My Shop on this website or Etsy.  For other products and digital prints, visit My RedBubble Products and my portfolio 123RF.

Casablanca…The White House

Now that we have been in Morocco a week, we have learned a few Arabic/Berber words.  I think the ones we’ve heard the most are “Marhaba” – “Hello” and “Yallah” – “Let’s Go”.  We were ready to go today.  It was time for a tour of Casablanca.  We started the day at Hassan II Mosque, which is only one of two mosques in Morocco that non-muslims are allowed to enter.  Tourists can visit the mosque at 9, 10, 11 and 2.

The mosque, the third largest in the world, was publicly funded, designed by a French architect and took 35,000 Moroccans to erect the structure over seven years between 1987 and 1993.  Its minaret is 650 ft high.  The main hall holds 25,000 people; 20,000 men on the main floor and 5,000 women in the upstairs mezzanine.  I would have never guessed the intricately decorated 200 ft high ceiling opens.  The mosque, located partly on land and partly on water, has a retractable roof!

The inside of the mosque is decorated in Moroccan marble, Italian granite, and a plaster mix which uses egg.  The ceiling is made of carved cedar wood.  Its interior takes on an Andalusian, Moorish, and Moroccan design which is quite beautiful, and aptly named Hassan (meaning beautiful).  Beneath the mosque are a variety of fountains and interesting wash rooms.

Muslims, who pray 15 minutes five times a day, must shower prior to entering the mosque.  If they can’t they rub a rock.  Our local guide, Hamadi, carries a small rock with him at all times.  He also told us Muslims who drink may not enter the mosque.  I’m certain there are several more religious traditions for Muslims, but I wouldn’t do their beliefs proper justice, so I have included a link to Wikipedia.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muslim.

Hamadi

From the mosque, we visited the medina and quickly twisted through a portion of the souks.  We mostly passed through the food market area.  Snails, mollusks, and turtles were for sale at one vendor location.  Fortunately, we found out that the turtles are purchased as pets.

Upon exiting the medina, we meandered down the White City’s streets and we given a chance to do some shopping.  I personally loved seeing the egg delivery on a cart…a little different from a milk man in the USA.  Margit was interested in a chandelier and a store she stopped in directed her around the corner.  We stumbled upon several shops lining a pedestrian walkway.  It was a nice area, and Jimmi found a button-down shirt that he could wear tonight at Rick’s Café, which had a dress code.

After shopping, we took a drive to the corniche.  We wandered along the sidewalk above the shoreline as we passed by McDonalds, a café, and a variety of gyms and beach clubs.  Some seemed ready for business while other locations were home to empty pools.

After our stroll, we stopped for lunch at El Gausto for fish soup as well as a fish entrée and of course, fruit for dessert.  Not a terribly big fan of fish, I sort of wished that there could have been some variety between the appetizer and entrée!  Oh well, it was food, and I could eat it.

The afternoon included stops in and around the Habous area.  First, we visited Pasha’s Mahkama, or court, which was built in 1952.  The Mahkama formerly the reception halls for the Pasha of Casablanca as well as a courthouse.  Now the complex is used for government administration.

After visiting the Mahkama, we stopped at Casablanca’s Royal Palace.  Though closed to the public, with a guide, we were allowed to wander a limited area of the grounds lined with elaborate water features, flags, flowers, and orange trees.  Today, additional guards in red coats stood by the usual guards which meant the King, who resides in the palace in Rabat, would be visiting soon.  As such, we were not allowed to take pictures of the military personnel.

We ended our day with a short stroll in Habous past a few Arabic bookstores before we returned to the hotel.  We finished the day with plenty of time to spare before 10pm dinner at Rick’s Café, so we went to the Morocco Mall, the second largest shopping center in Africa that opened in 2011.  We heard it was very luxurious.  Aside from the giant aquarium, I didn’t find it to be much different from any other giant mall in America with the exception of the fancy tea shop!

 

Finally, we made it to Rick’s Café which is a restaurant owned by an American, and it is an exact replica of that which was featured in the movie Casablanca.  We were seated at a table upstairs which looked down into the middle of the restaurant.  I really enjoyed the atmosphere here, and the food was outstanding.  The fig and goat cheese salad was fantastic as was the duck!  I think it was probably nice just to have a meal that differed from the traditional tajine.  I have never seen the movie Casablanca, but I feel like I should now that I have dined at Rick’s Café and wandered the city.  ETB

 

WANT TO TAKE THIS BLOG POST WITH YOU?

Click here to download it on the GPSMyCity Travel App:

Casablanca: The White House

WANT TO VACATION SOONER?  IF SO, THIS VACATION CLUB IS FOR YOU!

SHOP

For notecards and key chains, visit My Shop on this website or Etsy.  For other products and digital prints, visit My RedBubble Products and my portfolio 123RF.

Clubbing in Casablanca

So, our first mistake related to traveling from Marrakesh to Morocco, was to book a flight rather than take a train. The second mistake we made was to listen to Fernando and get to the airport 2.5 hours early at 6:45am! There were no lines at the check in counter, and the security for domestic travel was simply at the one gate used to fly domestically!

Fortunately, there was one coffee shop in the entrance area of the airport, so we purchased our breakfast there and sat and waited for two hours before we decided to enter the gate area. The man who operated the security at the gate thought for sure us tourists were in the wrong place and waved us to the international area. We showed him our boarding pass, and though surprised, he let us pass through.

Upon arriving in Casablanca, we made a few more traveling errors. When deboarding the plane, security checks each passenger’s passport and boarding pass to allow them entrance to the international terminal. We weren’t continuing on past Casablanca, so we didn’t have to wait in the line, though squeezing by everyone would have been hard anyway.

We were directed through a different corridor where we ended up at immigration. Should we have been able to read French, we probably could have figured out to follow the green line so we could skip immigration, but our mastery of language only included English and some Spanish. We showed the woman guarding the entrance to lines our passport stamp to indicate we could go around, and she told us we had to fill out the paper first.

We did this and walked back where a gentleman stood who understood enough English to point us in the right direction. We eventually skipped the immigration line and were met by a security guard on the other side who wanted to see our passports. He flipped page by page through our passports for a Casablanca stamp. We kept telling him we came through Marrakesh. Eventually, he let us through. At least they were all friendly!

Clearly, no one flies from Marrakesh to Casablanca, with Casablanca as the final destination as we confused most everyone. The flight was only 50 minutes, but with two hour before time and the bag waiting time, our airport time was far longer than the three-hour train ride, and we didn’t get to see the countryside!

Once we finally got outside to our ride, we had to wait for people in our group who were coming in from International places! To add to the length of our trip, the airport is really far away from the City (at least as it relates to traffic in this City of 5 million people), and it took a good hour to finally arrive at our hotel. The train station, on the other hand, was about 10 minutes away! Jimmi and Margit took the train about four hours after us and arrived at the same time.

Tired, we didn’t do much for the few free hours we had in the afternoon aside from grabbing lunch in the roof-top restaurant in our hotel, but at 6 we headed downstairs for our free happy hour and welcome dinner at the Mövenpick Casablanca Hotel. It was Brien’s birthday, so after dinner we hopped around to a few clubs.

Our first stop, and ultimately our best stop was at Maison B (B for Brien). He is a tequila drinker, so we ordered the menu item listing “6 shots”. The bar added 2 more shots complimentary. It was a quiet night, though we were out very early for Casablanca standards, so after a few more beers, we walked across the street to a Hooka lounge while we waited for our ride to Sky28, a club on the 28th floor of the Kenzi Tower Hotel. This place, though somewhat dead as well, was nice and offered lovely night views of the white city. As midnight rolled around, we called it a night. ETB

WANT TO VACATION SOONER?  IF SO, THIS VACATION CLUB IS FOR YOU!

SHOP

For notecards and key chains, visit My Shop on this website or Etsy.  For other products and digital prints, visit My RedBubble Products and my portfolio 123RF.