Third stop in Morocco: Rabat!
We caught a train from Marrakesh, super comfortable! Four hours of travel and approximately € 15 per person. I advise you to buy food beforehand because they warned us that the food they sell on board is bad and expensive.
In Rabat we stayed again in a riad in the medina (old center). The man who worked were as hospitable as the ones in Marrakesh, but still the space was very pleasant, very well located and the breakfast great – had the most florescent and sweet natural orange juice I have ever seen or tasted. We arrived at the hotel around 5pm so we just left our luggage and went for a walk, discovering what this city would have to offer us. The day was wonderful, temperatures around 24°C … yet for Moroccans it was winter as they did not take off their coats and wool sweaters! I felt like the Scandinavians should feel in Portugal!
We decided to go to the Kasbah des Oudayas, the city within the walls that served as a fortification and defense of the Moroccan coast. They warned us at the entrance that we would have to be brief because soon they would close the space for non-Muslims because it was time for praying. We wandered through its white and blue streets and when we were arriving at the viewpoint to Salé (the other side of Bu Regregue river), the beach and the Atlantic a local warned us that it was already closed. We were leaving when the guard called us, said that as we had been friendly and accepting the rules we could go have a peek fast. Of course we went running and then he showed up and still showed us a restricted area of Portuguese influence design in exchange for a few dirhams.
From the top of the walls the beach seemed desirable and we went down to the sand to get our feet inside water and see the sun go down. We went around the the Kasbah and found my favorite sight of the city, the Kasbah and the mouth of the river:
The deal was to meet directly at Hassan Tower, but because of a misunderstanding, we stopped by the Riad to see if they were still there. Their absence made us walk towards the tower, but to be more interesting we decided to go through the Medina, through the Melah, the Jewish quarter of the old center. We all had the same idea, as we found them on a vegetable stand asking the Moroccans that understood a bit of french what was the name of the vegetables we had never see. Most of the medina of Rabat is being recovered and standardized, to become more modern and organized, a very pleasant place!
We arrived at the Tower of Hassan, which was part of a plan for the construction of the largest mosque in the world and to surpass, at that time, the mosque of Cordova. Unfortunately its construction was interrupted after the death of the caliph Abu Yusuf Yaqub al-Mansur in 1199. In 1755, in the same earthquake that destroyed Lisbon, most of the incomplete construction collapsed, leaving only the 44m tower and a few columns.
In front of the tower we find the Mausoleum of Mohammed V, first king of Morocco after the independence of the French protectorate. An absolutely stunning building designed curiously by a Vietnamese architect. Here we can also see the royal guard, who lets be photographed.
At the royal palace, we discovered that we would need the passport to enter, so we skipped that point and went to Chellah, a medieval Merino necropolis where were also found ruins of the Roman city of Sala Colónia. The most interesting of this space are the approximately 75 nests of storks that exist in the grounds with their noisy beak and neck twist typical of their means of seduction.
Leaving Chellah we wanted to take a taxi to Salé, to see the sun setting behind Rabat. We asked a policeman for help who told us it should cost about 15dh. In Morocco the “normal” taxis can only take a maximum of three people, so we would need two taxis. Already inside the taxi we realized that the taxis of Rabat could not cross the river to Salé, soon when we asked to go to the Marina they were going to leave us in the margin opposite to the one that we wished. And I was in the second car, so we did not know how to meet again… Then I received a sms from my mother very upset thinking we had been deceived and were going to cross by boat. Our taxi dropped us at the foot of the bridge to cross on foot. We rushed to the boats, so fast that we could still overpass them and on the other side we saw them cross. The boat costs 2.5dh per person. They said that when they thought that they had been deceived, they told the taxi driver to stop next to a policeman and that he gave him a plaster for not having the meter working, when it was mandatory – the best way to deceive tourists – and told my mother to only give the driver 10dh.
On the other side we realized that what we thought was a hotel with a terrace, was just an apartment building still for sale and after a short walk along the river we crossed again to Rabat.
The next day we decided to visit the groundings of the royal palace, visit that I think is not very worth it, it would be better if we had gone earlier to Casablanca, our last destination.