We arrived in Madrid early on May 5 and went to our hotel near the airport. We purposely decided that it made sense to be nearby, since we were flying out to Casablanca early on May 6. After a little rest, off we went via Metro closer to downtown. Since my jacket evaporated at the Guadalajara Airport, it was time to find a light weight, inexpensive jacket for me, just in case. If I didn’t have one, I probably would need it. If I did have one, the likelihood is that I would never wear it. So, a stop at the local department store, El Corte Inglés (you will hear more about it later) and I found just the thing for the rest of the trip.
There were lots of interesting kiosks nearby, stocked with some very unusual items. One kiosk had a plethora of travel purses, always difficult to find without spending a lot of money. Here, they had cross-body bags, backpacks and a variety of others styles in lots of colors and only $15 Euros (or about $15 US). I should have bought a dozen (??), but instead just bought one. I thought that we might be able to return here on our way home, when we had another night at the same hotel, but it didn’t work out that way.
We returned to our hotel and stopped at one of the local tapas restaurants that looked so inviting. The food was great, the beer and service were amazing and since we were there earlier than the typical Spaniards eat dinner, we had the place to ourselves. They make their own beer and we had our first opportunity to sample Iberian ham and other unique tapas.
Back to our hotel to get a good night’s sleep before heading out to the airport for Casablanca. We got up early for breakfast and took the hotel shuttle to the Madrid airport. So easy, particularly when compared to the hour and a half it takes to check in with Volaris. Twenty minutes later, we were in the terminal and at our gate. It was amazing to see all the high end shops and restaurants. An easy 1-1/2 hours after departing, we were in Casablanca, and the difference was palpable. By the way, there were lots of Americans on the plane, taking similar tours of Morocco. We will see them at our various stops, most likely.
The Casablanca airport is bare bones. The thirty minute plus taxi ride revealed lots of open, flat land, with many apartment buildings in the works. I guess that civilization is creeping toward the airport, as it does everywhere.
Once at our confirmed hotel, we were told that we didn’t have a room, despite our confirmation from Expedia, and that the hotel was full. Swell! The doorman made some phone calls and he dragged our bags to another hotel around the corner. Somehow, our reservation for tomorrow night is okay, meaning a move again. No problem.
We slept okay, but jet lag crept in occasionally and I woke up wondering what to do when it was seven hours earlier body time! We were a little lazy today and finally got out and about at 1:00. We stopped at a little dive for some chicken brochettes and salad. Not great, but not bad, either.
We meandered to the Old Medina, the large market nearby. If you are looking for decorative caftans, slippers fit for a genie on a magic carpet (and lots of carpets, too), plus lots of leather, both in apparel and handbags, jewelry and so much more, you have found them. The folks are hustlers and will lower the prices until you relent. We were strong, so the only dent in my wallet was a pair of sunglasses. By the way, there are many levels of Muslim observance here. The women range from wearing head scarves and caftans, to only head scarves, to total Western attire. The men also range in dress. Very interesting.
We moved into Phase Two and after a quick clean up, went to the rooftop bar recommended, to get the full view of Casablanca. Normally, you would be there for the transition from day to night, but we decided to have a late dinner at Restaurant Zayna, a traditional Moroccan restaurant, specializing in couscous, salads and tagines. It was in an interesting neighborhood. Not touristy at all. And they shared the joy of cohetes (rocket fireworks) with us, so we didn’t feel like we were missing anything!
Breakfast in the morning, then off to see more sights. Good night!