Photo Credit: TN
Solo Travels: How To Spend 24 Hours In Casablanca
Before my trip, I thought that the word Casablanca was simply a movie title. However, little did I know that Casablanca was an actual place that surely is white (blanca) in appearance. Truthfully, I have never seen so many white buildings concentrated in one location!
Casablanca is considered the main economic city of Morocco, and it definitely appears to be the most modern as well. This might explain why it has a high Jewish and Catholic population compared to the rest of Morocco. As you walk around, you can immediately feel the French colonial influence. Although I only spent 24 hours there, I maximized the experience to the fullest!
Here is how you can do the same:
The area of Casablanca that I arrived in had a mix of fast food joints and local spots. Of course, I chose to explore locally. Our tour guide suggested Restaurant Essad, and sure enough, several locals were eating there! Because it was a local spot, it was very helpful to know some basic French phrases to make ordering food easier. If you don’t have at least a few French terms under your belt, you’ll spend a lot of time pointing and making hand motions to communicate. The food was simple but delicious. I had a sandwich with grilled meat and a side of French fries and a local beer. Apparently, ketchup is not a thing here!
Visit Hassan II Mosque
The Hassan II Mosque is apparently the largest mosque in Morocco and the second largest mosque in the world! Although it is not evident when you are exploring the mosque, you can see that the mosque is built facing the Atlantic Ocean and has a huge courtyard in the middle. Apparently, the Hassan II mosque itself can accommodate as much as 25,000 worshippers and the courtyard can fit 80,000 people, which is abslutely inredble!
Although I did not have time to explore extensively, I would love to go on one of the guided tour opportunities they offer to non Muslims, when I return.
Walk Around Mohamed V Square
All I can think about is the swarm of pigeons that exist around Mohamed V Square; I had never seen so many pigeons in one place! I thought New York’s pigeon population was large, but this does not compare.
Although the Mohamed V Square is a popular meeting point for locals, it is also significant to the city. The administrative center of the city, it was built under French rule after World War I and united administrative buildings including the French Consulate, the courthouse, the prefecture, the central post office, and the bank of Morocco. You can see Arabic writing as well as the Berber language that was added later on.
Visit Notre Dame de Lourdes Cathedral
Coming across this Roman Catholic church was surely a surprise considering the number of mosques in Morocco. The architecture sticks out not only because it is in a country surrounded by mosques, but also just as a church, especially a Catholic church. It is why I was so shocked to discover that in a country with 99% Muslims, there are 20,000 practicing Catholics, mostly found in Casablanca.
It is worthwhile to visit the church’s interior for its impressive stained glass windows.
You also have the opportunity to purchase a candle to light as well as say a prayer at Notre Dame de Lourdes Cathedral.
Catch a view from Sky 28
Located on the 28th floor of the Kenzi Tower Hotel, Sky 28 has the best views of Casablanca. I walked from my hotel (and surprisingly did not get too lost) to find this sky lounge while my new acquaintances from this trip took a nap. It was certainly worthwhile venturing solo, wandering these Moroccan streets.
The view really took my breath away as well as led me to truly understand why Casablanca has its name (Spanish translation for white house). The concentration of pristine, white buildings create a view like no other. I only came to take pictures as the drinks were pricey and there were no available window seats (understandably so). There is even live music on certain nights of the week! This was probably the highlight of my time in Casablanca.
Eat at an old Portuguese fortress
I originally intended to eat at another restaurant. However, due to construction blocking the driver, my limited French speaking abilities and pouring rain, I was dropped off at the fortress with the intention of meeting up with two solo female travelers that I had bonded with. However, we had no means of communicating with each other. As a result, I enjoyed my last meal in Morocco by myself. The ambiance and the taste of the food was worthwhile at Restaurant Cafe La SQALA.
I started off with some Moroccan bread an appetizer called briouates kefta, which is a small Moroccan pastry stuffed with meat. I then ate a delicious shrimp risotto with parmesan cheese. The shrimp was big, juicy and plentiful.
For dessert, I had pastilla au lait, which is basically fried phyllo dough stacked with a sweet milk poured over it. YUM!
Eating solo was a perfect ending to my Moroccan trip, considering that I also came this way as well!