HomeMoroccoCome to the Kasbah

Friday October 4

After a night recuperating in Marrakech, I was ready to make my way up to Fez but slowly, slowly. I decided to break my journey in Rabat which is Morocco’s capital and a mere 4 1/2 hours from Marrakech. Fez was too far and Casablanca was too big and busy after peaceable nights in the desert.

The train was delayed for two hours so it was nearly 5 by the time I got to Rabat, too late for much sightseeing.

I chose the Hotel Malak which was a little over my budget but I didn’t have much choice. I found it curious that there was little available but then learned that there was some sort of government conference that attracted regional potentates from around Morocco. The hotel was well-located outside the Medina but with no particular Moroccan style. The hotel restaurant was good and run by an ebullient chef who was delighted to explain the concept behind his spicy fish dish.

Naturally, in the morning the first thing I did was head to the Medina.

rabat-medina-entranceI was pleased to find that it was much quieter than that of Marrakech and the salesmen were much more laid-back. Yet, it was just as colorful and almost completely free of Western tourists. It was also free of the murderous motorcycles that were forever zooming around the Marrakech medina.

medina-guitarsI didn’t get any bongos but did get a good deal on a leather handbag and a pair of silver earrings. Unlike in Marrakech, bargaining was minimal. The prices were good to begin with anyway.

medinaThe Medina also had reminders of the colonial period when the French moved in. Here is rue des Consuls where the diplomats lived:

medina-consuls

Straight through to the other side of the Medina was Rabat’s most famous sight: the Kasbah Les Oudaias

kasbah-les-oudaiaskasbah-entranceBuilt in the 12th century, the sea walls of the kasbah were clearly intended to dissuade potential attackers.

kasbah-seaThere’s little commerce in the kasbah which is mostly residential. The blue and white houses were built by Muslim refugees from Spain.

kasbah-streetkasbah-doorAfter some restorative mint tea at the Café Maure

kasbah-catI wandered in the Andalusian Gardens, laid out by French colonialists.

kasbah-gardensAfter lunch and a rest, I headed to Rabat’s other major sight, the Tour Hassan, an unfinished monument to the grandiosity of Sultan Yacoub al-Mansour who died before it was finished. The huge space also contains the Mausoleum of Mohammed V with the remains of the current king’s father and grandfather. The swarms of visiting Moroccans testified to the popularity of their king.

mausoleumhasanI can’t say that Rabat is a don’t miss sight but it did provide a restful interlude between the desert safari and the mindblower that is Fez. More about that later.

 



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