Thursday, May 1, 2014

Casablanca, Morocco

Our next adventure took us to Africa!  After traveling to Ghana 8 yrs ago, I have to admit that I never thought I'd be back.  Although Morocco is quite a different part of Africa than Ghana.  We arrived there early on Sunday morning.   Easter Sunday.  That was about the weirdest easter I have ever had...and I hope we are never traveling over Easter again.  It just felt wrong to visit a Muslim Mosque on Easter Sunday.  In fact, when we got home Sawyer said that next Easter he didn't want to be on vacation because he wanted have an easter egg hunt.  Oops.  Maybe we should have hidden some eggs in our cabin.  Instead we had an easter basket waiting at home...they thought that was pretty great, too.

Nathan and I had heard from several sources, that we would not want to 'wander' around Casablanca, especially with 3 small children.  So we opted to do the tour guided excursion for this stop.  And we decided to leave Sawyer and Violet on the boat with the Kids Club.  They had stayed with them for a few hours here and there throughout our trip, and were getting to be more comfortable with them.  Sawyer didn't like the Kids Club because, according to him, no one spoke English.  The adults in charge did speak English, but usually with heavy accents, so I'm sure it was hard for Sawyer to understand.  Anywho, it took some convincing to get Sawyer to stay with the Kids Club for the morning...Violet was totally fine with it.  (I should also mention that the kids were coming down with colds at this point and were feeling extra sensitive)  So we ate breakfast, dropped the kids off, and then headed down to the bus for our excursion with Isla.  It was kinda fun going off, just the three of stroller :).  Our tour guide was a nice Moroccan woman.  She took us to a little outdoor market where they sold produce, fresh fish, etc.  Then we stopped at a government controlled souvenir shop...all the prices were set and no one was pushy or haggling with you, so that was kinda nice.  I bought some saffron and another spice, a drum for Sawyer, moroccan slippers for Violet, and a set of wooden serving utensils.  We then drove to the Hassan II Mosque.  I have to say, this was one of the coolest things we got to see, just because it was so different from the cathedrals that we are used to seeing on our travels.  We learned some interesting things about Muslims, and how they worship.  The Mosque was beautiful and very clean.  I loved the tile work throughout, and it had a much lighter feel than the cathedrals of Europe.  We really enjoyed our tour of the Mosque.  We then went to see where the King of Morocco lives, and walked around there for a bit.  And that was it.  Overall, my impression of Casablanca was not that great.  To me it was mostly just a big, very dirty city.  I have never seen the movie, so that was not special to me either.  Maybe I should have watched it before coming.  And Nathan and I were really hoping to see some real traditional Moroccan scenes...I guess we have to go out of the city next time for that.

We got back to the boat around 1230 and picked up the kids.  They were happy to see us.  We put Isla down for a nap and went to lunch with Sawyer and Violet and gave them their gifts.  We debated going back out with the kids to explore some more, cause we were docked until like 7 pm, but we just decided it wasn't worth it.

Leaving the boat with Isla for our Moroccan excursion

That is the Mosque in the background...sits right on the coast.  It was pretty awesome.

I just loved all of the mosaic art
an attempt at a panoramic

The was before walking down to the washing rooms
Those are fountains in the background that they use to cleanse their bodies before prayer.  They have a very specific ritual for all of this.

The souvenir shop...

I was obsessed with this door we saw as we walked to the King's Palace...I wanted to close that little door so bad, but didn't want to get in trouble!  lol

It was cool to see that Moroccan arch everywhere!

Somewhere outside of the King's Palace
Lunch with the kiddos...Nate is always the adventurous eater...if there is something funky on the menu he will get it.  The octopus was pretty scary looking.  I did try a small piece...not ideal but it wasn't horrible.  I think the sauce was good enough to cover up the real taste.  But the texture was not enjoyable, in my opinion.

The show on the boat last night was Ninja Turtle themed. The kids loved that stuff.

We watched the boat leave that night...there was an amazing rainbow.  So cool.

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