“What in heaven’s name brought you to Casablanca?”

June 12, 2014, 3 comments

Is it bad if I answer that with: “H&M”?

Way back in November, Mike and I thought it about time we hopped a train to check out the famous Casablanca. We also needed to go to the mall, and at that time Casablanca was the nearest option. Unfortunately, Casablanca is not as romantic as the film might lead you to think. In fact, if someone were to visit Morocco on a tight budget, I’d suggest skipping it altogether. There’s just not really much to do if you’re a tourist. It might be different if you’re living there, but we were happy with our quick day and a half visit. In fact, the second day we were searching pretty hard for things to do… and ended up at a Pizza Hut. So there you go. Of course, there are interesting bits to it too. We started off with the Art Deco tour in the Lonely Planet. I think you really need to be an architecture nerd for this. Yes, there were a few cool looking buildings (like this one), but there’s also a lot of dilapidation. The tour only took about 20 minutes on foot so soon we were searching for our next activity. We ended up doing another walking tour from the guidebook, then heading towards the beach, and finally making it to the mall. The mall itself was pretty nice and instantly took me back to the UAE. Oud was in the air. It was like a mini Dubai Mall complete with indoor aquarium. Visiting the H&M and indulging in some mediocre poutine was the highlight of the evening.

The next day we visited the Hassan II Mosque but regretfully missed the tour. As a fan of mosques, I can say this one was truly lovely.  The mosque is the 7th largest in the world and boasts the tallest minaret. Perched up next to the Atlantic, the ocean floor is visible through the glass floor. I’m really wishing we were able to get a peek at that. We rounded out our trip with a stop at Rick’s Cafe. Should I give you the full report or leave your film inspired imagination in tact? You decide.*

xo, jill

*It’s nothing like the movie!!

23 Days

June 2, 2014, 2 comments

Break out the paper chain.

My days in Morocco are winding down. It’s kind of crazy to think that there are only 23 days left before I fly home. Here’s to a few more sunny days, steamy tagines, and mornings trips to the hanout.

Photos from my Instagram. Clockwise: Paradise Valley / Medersa Ben Youssef / Atlas Studio in Ouarzazate / Spring Rain

How long  can I put off packing?

xo, jill

Ceuta & Sebta

May 22, 2014, one comment

Tiny Spain.

Let’s get back to the trip Mike and I took to northern Morocco way back in November. Returning to this trip actually means returning to Spain! The last portion of our trip was a visit to Ceuta aka Sebta, a tiny bit of Spain attached to Morocco*. (Ceuta = Spanish, Sebta = Arabic)

Entering Ceuta was pretty easy if you don’t mind being pushed around in a line for 30 minutes or so. After lunging at the passport desk, we were waived on to simply walk across the border into Spain. From there you can take a taxi or bus into the city center. If you are crazy, you can try to walk. Yep, we tried to walk. The distance looked a lot shorter on the map. Eventually, we hailed a taxi that took us straight to our hotel.

We spent most of our time in Sebta enjoying the European feel of our surroundings and stocking up on essentials, like black beans and tofu.

I thought this was a funny place for this man to pose.

On the way back in to Morocco we joked about the relatively relaxed border. Turns out, it was even more relaxed than we realized. A man standing by a fence noticed we didn’t have an exit stamp, so he directed us up to the window of a drive through passport lane. After a smile and stamp we were on our way. It was also fun to see what other people were bringing back into Morocco. I noticed a gigantic garbage bag full of chips and quite a few containers of Nesquick making their way back over the border.

From Ceuta we headed back to Tangier for the night before returning to Marrakech.

xo, jill

*There’s another Spanish enclave on mainland Africa.

Seville & Plaza de Espana

May 18, 2014, one comment

Final hours.

After my mom flew home, I had one more day to spend in Seville. For the most part, I took it easy. However, I did manage to walk across to the opposite side of the river. I later walked down to Maria Luisa Park to check out the Plaza de Espana. It was built for the World’s Fair in 1929

I think I spent the rest of my day shopping on the high street, trying to finish my book, and cramming packages of tortillas into my tiny backpack. Very early the next morning, I was headed back to Marrakech.

xo, jill

Seville & City Sights

May 18, 2014, one comment

Figaro! Figaro!

The rest of our time together in Seville my mom and I dashed around town trying to see all the sights. There might have been a few siestas here and there as well.

We strolled along the river and took in the Golden Tower.

We also paid a visit to the famous Seville Cathedral which is the largest gothic cathedral in the world. While there we took a peek at the monument housing Columbus’s remains. Giralda, the clock tower, formerly served as a minaret when the area was under Muslim rule. It was modeled after the minaret at the Koutoubia mosque in Marrakech.

Columbus’s remains.

We also visited the waffle over the city, also known as Metropol Parasol, to check out the view.

Our last night together we took in a flamenco show at the Casa de la Guitarra and enjoyed walking through the town after dark.

The next morning it was time for my mom to head back home. I certainly hope the trip was worth the wait!

xo, jill

Seville & Alcazar

May 13, 2014, no comments

Can’t get enough.

After visiting the Alhambra in Granada, we headed over to Seville. After checking into our bright pink room, we checked out the town and ended up at the Alcazar. I guess I just can’t get enough of Moorish design and architecture. The palace is the oldest palace in Europe that is still currently in use. The Spanish royal family uses the upstairs chambers as its residence while in Seville. Not a bad setup.

Yep, I think I could live here too.

xo, jill

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