Casablanca, Morocco

Posted by jswt | Posted in General, Morocco - Casablanca | Posted on 15-04-2012

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2 weeks in Casablanca held romantic ideals, but the reality was a lot less lovely than expected… You know the faded black and white Bogart memories and dreams you have associated with the place? Well… The film was shot entirely at a sound lot in California — the producers knew better than to spend their time in Casablanca itself.

The city is really just a slummy port town that’s been mangled and aside from the financial district and their (surprisingly good) mall, is falling into serious disrepair.

There were a few highlights of the couple weeks there though:

1) Chris’ parents were passing through on a cruise at the same time we were there, so though Chris has to work, I got to spend the day exploring the old city with them. We had a great day: strolled deep into the heart of the habbous, drank sweet mint tea, had a nice dinner @ Rick’s Cafe with some fantastic Moroccan wines, and Chris was able to get away from work and join us for dessert… Wonderful day!

2) The location of the hotel was superb – right on the beach, with a pool, where we spent a great afternoon hanging out with a bunch of the peeps in the sun. (Note: This nowhere comes close to making up for the absolutely terrible service at the hotel – see below).

3) The tour had it’s 20th anniversary party which was really, really, really good… Moroccan feast, snake charmers, shisha, drunken revelry on the dancefloor… The party popped 🙂

These three things don’t override the overwhelming negatives… Everyone on the tour got sick from the food/drink/sanitation (including me – brutally ill for 4 days), the women were all harassed by the Moroccan men, I caught pickpockets with their fingers in my pockets, the city is noisy and dirty and has zero charm, and we had the worst hotel experience we’ve ever had (seriously: never, ever, ever stay at the Riad Salam Hotel — the place is falling apart, and the service was agressively bad… we’ve stayed in 150+ hotels and have never experienced poor service like this – it was beyond rude to the point of confrontational and horrible.)

If you’ve gotta go, you’ve gotta go, but if you’re looking to have a good time I have to encourage you not to waste your time with Casablanca… Fantastic reports came back from Marrakech and Fez, so aim for those instead.