El Jadida, a Coastal Town in Morocco

From Casablanca to El Jadida

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 UNESCO 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.

cat in rabat

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.

oranges at at casablanca medina

Casablanca…The White House

Casablanca, located on Morocco’s Atlantic coast, is the largest city in Morocco.  Serving as Morocco’s chief port, it is one of the largest financial centers on the African continent. I didn’t know much about Casablanca before arriving, and had only associated it with the romantic movie “Casablanca”.  Boy was I surprised by this city of over five million people!

club in casablanca

Clubbing in Casablanca

Getting to Casablanca

So, our first mistake related to traveling from Marrakesh to Casablanca, 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.  In addition, 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.  Here, we purchased our breakfast 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.

view of toubkal from asni ouirgane valley

Off Roading Through the Asni Ouirgane Valley

Asni Ouirgane Valley

So today we took a 4×4 tour to the Asni Ouirgane valley.  Suman, Brien, Nina and I climbed into a large SUV and our driver took us toward the mountains.  We followed the same highway we took to hike in the High Atlas Mountains.  We made stops at a few overlooks for views of the farmland and surrounding mountains, until eventually we turned off onto a dirt road.

boats in essaouira

Excellent Visit to Essaouira

On the Way to Essaouira

Today we boarded the bus for a side trip to Essaouira, once Morocco’s main trading port and a stronghold of the Jewish culture.  I really loved this day trip, and I would highly recommend visiting this windy port town home to a picturesque fishing harbor, a medina, a beach with surf, and the world famous Gnaoua Music Festival which takes place in June.

spices in Marrakesh medina

Maneuvering Marrakesh

Morocco Dreamtrip in Marrakesh

So today we began our vacation club’s Morocco Dreamtrip in Marrakesh.  My friend Suman and I loaded the bus at 8:30am with our new-found friends, Jimmi and Margit from Sweden and Nina and Brien, Americans who live in South Korea, among others.  Nina is originally Filipino, but due to Brien’s job and her resulting opportunities it is better for her to have a U.S. passport.