Casablanca, the city made famous by a movie. We have three priorities here.
The first is to visit the huge Hassan II Mosque that was built in the late 80's by
the current king at the cost of half a billion dollars, or whatever that is in Dirhams. It
juts out over the sea next to the harbor. The minaret is 210 meters (over 600 feet)
high and has a laser that shines towards Mecca at night. This plaza will hold 80,000
worshippers. This mosque is also one of the very few that allows non-Muslim persons
to enter it, although a guided tour is required. We removed our shoes, their custom
in a mosque, and followed our guide. We took the English-speaking tour. Lots of
time was allowed for pictures.
Inside it will 20,000 men and 5,000 women (segregated) worshippers. It is made with
all Moroccan materials except the chandeliers, which are of Murano glass from Venice. The
ceiling is cedar from the middle Atlas mountains. The marble is from southern Morocco. The
tile work and inlaid marble are gorgeous. And unlike many of the Catholic churches
we saw there is not a spec of dust anywhere. The place is spotless. The floor is
heated and the ceiling will slide open.
Underneath the heated floor is the ablution area with fountains for the ritual washing
of the hands, face and feet before prayer. The tile columns, marble floor and plasterwork
ceilings are beautiful. The fountains are also marble.
Next in priority was to have lunch at a new restaurant called Rick's Cafe. It is
near the mosque but we had to drive around about 3 times before we found it. This
four-year old restaurant is based on the movie. It features waiters in Fez hats
and white coats, small tables and palms. It has no movie memorabilia hanging on
the walls as would an American version. It was fun and the food was good, but expensive. I
bought a t-shirt too.
Lastly we met with the president of the GoldWing Club Maroc and another club member. They
told us of some places to see and routes to follow. We're on the first of them now
on our way to Agadir. Then he led us through downtown Casablanca at a faster speed
than I would do on my own. It is nice having a guide so all I have to do is watch
traffic. You'll notice that he has good taste when picking a color for his Wing.