Magical Morocco 2011
May 6th – 16th, 2011
 


Friday, May 6th, 2011 Arrival Day - Casablanca Airport – Hotel Le Royal Mansour Meridien


Saturday, May 7th, 2011

We will start our tour with an outside visit to the splendid Hassan II Mosque: a breathtaking landmark of Casablanca with its tallest minaret at 210m. Its architecture takes its majestic inspiration from Arabic and Islamic traditions but boldly surpasses them. In size: it occupies an esplanade covering 2 hectares that can receive up to 105,000 faithful for prayers 5 times a day. In technology: the 1,100 ton cedar ceiling in the immense prayer room slides back and forth in 5 minutes! In visibility: from the top of the minaret, a laser beam indicates the direction of Mecca. It is also the only mosque in the country to be open to non-Muslims. Hassan II Mosque; is the third largest religious monument in the world. Completed in 1993, this ornate modern marvel is the work of over 10,000 artisans and craftsmen whose talents are evident in the intricate decorations in the 33,000 sq metres of carved cedar from the Atlas Mountains and embellishments like the Murano glass chandeliers. There are 10,000 sq. metres of mosaics. The ablution hall has 41 fountains made with marble from either here in Morocco or Italy. It was designed by the French architect Michel Pinseau and took 6 years to build. Its most distinctive features are a glass floor [for royal use and off limits to visitors] built out over the Atlantic that allows worshippers to see the ocean as they kneel to pray and a sliding ceiling opened on special occasions to grant visions of the sky above as well. This building is so big, it must be stood in to be appreciated. You feel very tiny here. 20,000 men can pray on the main floor with the hanging mezzanine above holding 5,000 women. A further 80,000 can pray outside.

Next was a visit to a market where we got to see perfect fruit and vegetables and lots of wicker. Also the fish market was wonderful. Then while on the coach drive by Hohammed 5th Square, Parc de la Ligue Arabe and the old Sacré-Coeur cathedral built in the Arts Déco style by a Dutch architect, so characteristic of the 1930s. Opened at the beginning of the 20th century, palms line the walkways, alongside green spaces dotted with pergolas and dozens of varieties of tree. This garden, used to be called Lyautey Garden, was founded between 1917 and 1919 and planed by the architect Albert Parade.

Visit Notre Dame de Lourde Church to see the stained glass – 80 tons of glass adorn this very simple church, stunning to see! After an exquisite lunch at Le Pilotis we drove to the Corniche.

The U.S. Consulate here has a very unique way of protecting the property. They use huge containers, the kinds that you would see on ships, fill them with soil and then plant them up. The containers are painted and it really does look much nicer than barricades of concrete.

Dinner this evening was at Rick’s Café http://www.rickscafe.ma/  Rick's Cafe, the mythical saloon from the 1942 film "Casablanca" has finally been transformed from celluloid to wood, glass and plaster thanks to the imagination and determination of an American woman enamored of Morocco, Kathy Kriger. Set in an old courtyard-style mansion built against the walls of the Old Medina of Casablanca, the restaurant - piano bar is filled with architectural and decorative details reminiscent of the film: curved arches, a sculpted bar, balconies, balustrades as well as dramatic beaded and stenciled brass lighting and plants that cast luminous shadows on white walls. Details have been added that go beyond the film set in terms of ambience and comfort - four fireplaces, banquettes and an intimate private dining with view of the fishing port provide the background setting for an international menu specializing in Casablanca's fresh fish, vegetables and fruit. Issam, a pianist from Rabat, provides the soundtrack to the sophisticated elegant surroundings. Guests steeped in the elegant atmosphere come to feel as though they are in the film, and each evening a new chapter unfolds in the lives of the characters who are part of today's Rick's Cafe.


 

 

  • New Eden
  • Kids Garden
  • Plant a Row Grow a Row