It seemed to take a long time to get from Amsterdam to Casablanca but it was really only 4.5 hours of flying time. The long layover in Madrid made the trip seem much longer.
At the airport it took more than an hour to get through immigration. That wasn’t because the lines were terribly long but because it took several minutes to pass every person through. It only took Patricia and me a few seconds, so I wonder what was different.
The driver from the hotel was waiting. He only spoke French and I only have a little French. Nevertheless, we were soon on the road for the 45-minute drive to Casablanca. So far, the drive in has been the most interesting part of Casablanca.
Speeds vary greatly, even on the main roads. There are both [really] old and new cars and besides the age of the cars, it appears that some drivers go really fast and some just go slow. Even on the busiest roads and streets it is common to see people casually walking in front of traffic to get across. In contrast to Amsterdam, we saw no bicycles. Lane markings seem to be more for decoration than actually keeping people in their lanes. We saw lots of drivers straddling the lanes. Turn signals are meant only for misdirection; no one believes them even when they are used. At intersections, drivers simply fill up all the available space and turn when there is an opening—or even the hope of an opening—with horns blowing. As you might expect, the vast majority of cars are severely dinged. It is no wonder there are few signal lights: there would not be much point in them. Our driver was very conservative and we felt quite safe.
Once we got to the city proper, we went on increasingly smaller streets until we got to Le Doge. On that street, the car could hardly pass through. The hotel is pretty nice and very small.
We went out for a little walk in the late afternoon and were a little disappointed because we saw nothing but a plain city. There were a lot of people sitting around with little to do but we didn’t feel threatened. The large square near the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart was nearly devoid of people. The cathedral itself was run down and neglected.
In fact, that was our overall impression of what we saw: run down and neglected. Lots of trash, broken sidewalks, people standing around doing nothing.
This was not the Casablanca we imagined from the movie–but that was no surprise.
We had dinner at the hotel. The restaurant has a good reputation but we may have caught them on a bad night. It took nearly 3 hours from the time we sat down until I got the check to have our starters, the main course and dessert. That might not have been so bad, but Patricia’s first choice wasn’t available—and they didn’t tell us that for half an hour—and the beef she chose second wasn’t edible. AND it was expensive.
But we got a good night’s sleep and now we are ready to head for Fes in a couple of hours.