We had been on an extended venture in Spain, then took a short flight across the Mediterranean, landing in Casablanca. I am not quite sure what we expected, but Casablanca is a thriving,
bustling place much more modern than we had anticipated.
One of the most impressive tours we have been on took us to the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca. Built right on the Atlantic Ocean, it is one of the largest mosques in the world. It has an exquisiteness about it that is nearly overpowering, with delicate artistry everywhere- a remarkable achievement. Just look at this interior:
We left Casablanca and headed to Marrakech.
We stayed at La Mamunia, actually right where Sir Winston Churchill, the British Prime Minister, stayed. He was an avid painter, and used to set up his easel in the tranquil gardens
surrounding the hotel.
The place is sumptuous, and the Old World service is impeccable. Costumed staff nearly swarmed over us as we arrived, and we needed them all, as the place has steps and (at that time)
no ramps. They merely carried us in, and we were set.
We unpacked, then left to go into the city. What a difference! Within mere minutes, we were transported from this luxurious, modern hotel to a place of a different time and culture.
A place where the past thousand years or so has changed little or nothing.
For whatever else, Marrakech is known for its famous market, centered around the town square, Jemaa l-Fna. The square is ugly, it is dirty, and it is phenomenal!
There are snake charmers,
exotic foods, noise, heat, delectable odors (and some NOT so delectable). But what is really smashing is that from this vast open space, you can wander off into the interior of the markets, strolling carefree
and undirected along the covered streets, known as suugs.
But there is also the hushed and quiet beauty of this garden: