Wednesday, 17 November 2010

8 Nov 2010 – Torremolinos to Casablanca

The plan was an early start to catch the ferry from Algeciras to Ceuta.   The coach left at 0730, and on the way we were told that the plan had changed to catch the ferry from Tarifa to Tangier.
The 92 miles to Tarifa was along the coast road with views of Malaga and Gibraltar and we arrived at the ferry port at 0930.
There was some confusion at the ferry terminal, but we were eventually told that the ferry would not leave until 1100.   Lots of grumbling about “hurry up and wait” – like being back in the army again!
We had been told that we would have to complete entry forms and get them signed by the Spanish police, who have an office on the boat.   However to save us all having to queue Jan collected all 45 forms and got them signed for us.  

After a city tour in the coach we set off for Casablanca.   Leaving Tangier behind us we soon realised we were in a third world country.   This type of transport was more common than cars. 
We expected our first stop to be at Rabat, but due to the delay caused by the change of ferry we stopped for lunch at Larache.   It took us about two hours to get there, and we were surprised at how long it had taken us to cover such a short distance.
There was not much to see in Larache, and our local guide took us to a smart restaurant where the staff spoke English and accepted euros.   A meal of omelet, chips, bread and coffee cost us 5 euros.
It was 1700 when we arrived in Rabat, five hours and 170 miles after leaving Tangier.   Rabat is the second largest city in the Kingdom of Morocco and the home of the king.   We drove past the Royal Palace with a motley collection of untidy soldiers every hundred yards or so.
The Royal Guards at the Mausoleum of Mohammed V are more impressive, and were quite happy to be photographed.   We were fortunate that we had arrived just in time for the ceremonial lowering of the national flag, and whilst it was light enough to take some photographs.

The Mausoleum reminded me of Napoleons Tomb in Paris.   It was crowded with tourists who had been warned to speak quietly, and were told to keep quiet by the four ceremonial guards if they failed to do so.   The chap reading the Koran on the right seemed more interested in the tourists and kept looking up at them.  He eventually went into a side room, apparently to answer his mobile phone!

Hassan, our local guide, then took us for a guided tour around the outside area, and it was good to have a chance to stretch our legs after such a long time on the coach.

David obliged by taking the standard shot for the photograph album.

It was dark when we left Rabat and 1900 when we arrived in Casablanca.   We drove through the centre of the city, but our hotel was too far from the nightlife to tempt anyone to explore.  After a long day we were all ready for a hot meal and off to bed.

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