A Pedacito of Casablanca, Morocco
Updated: May 18, 2021
When asking our Moroccan friends what they thought of Casablanca, we heard adjectives such as “crazy, crowded, dangerous, and dirty.” The problem with asking a Moroccan to describe another city in Morocco is that most of them are incredibly proud of their home city and tend to have rivalries with the other major cities. Therefore, if you ask them what they think of another city in Morocco, you will probably hear negative adjectives to describe that city.
With that in mind, we decided to take a two-hour train ride from Rabat to check out Casablanca for ourselves. When we arrived at the station, I pulled up a map on my phone and searched for directions to the Hassan II Mosque. The mosque is the second largest mosque in all of Africa and seemed like the most obvious attraction to start our day.
The distance from the train station to the mosque was a little less than two kilometers, but before we even reached the mosque we were talking about leaving Casablanca early. My initial impressions were that my Moroccan friends had been telling me the truth when they so negatively described the city.
The streets felt dirty and crowded. The cheap restaurants we passed looked unsanitary, and the expensive ones were full of tourists and overpriced. In short, I hated the place. I told my fiance as much and suggested that, after we checked out the mosque, we should get the next train back to Rabat.
When we arrived at the mosque, I started to cheer up a little. The mosque really is something special. The unbelievable size and intricate design of the place make it a truly awe-inspiring example of Islamic culture.
Feeling a little less apprehensive about the city, we left the mosque and walked along the coastal promenade. The views started to feel a little more pleasurable, and so we decided to do a little more investigating before running back to the train station.
After the coast, we happened upon Boulevard Mohammed V. This pedestrian street is full of shops and restaurants. The architecture of the buildings is also very interesting and pretty. Suddenly, we began to find ourselves feeling differently about Casablanca. The walk from the train station was depressing, but everywhere else we walked seemed more and more beautiful.
After Boulevard Mohammed V, we went to one of the most modern parts of Casablanca, called Anfa. This section of the city was incredibly clean and full of high-end shopping, delicious (though not overpriced) restaurants, and well-maintained parks.
I don’t know how it happened. We honestly wanted to leave Casablanca five minutes after we had arrived. Instead, we ended up walking 22 kilometers that day and taking the latest possible train back to Rabat. We also began discussing the possibility of moving to Casablanca permanently.
Casablanca is a crazy place. There are certain sections of town that are overcrowded. There are areas that feel dirtier and less safe than others. But there is just something about this city that makes it uniquely appealing and gets into your skin. If you ever get the chance to visit Casablanca, I recommend spending at least a day just walking around. If at first you are like I was and find Casablanca to be a less than desirable place to visit, just keep walking.
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