Arriving in Africa - Rabat, Morocco
As my dreams of traveling the world never seem to dissipate, I had been dying to take a post graduation trip with friends. Luckily my friend Lauren came to me with the option of going to Morocco with her sister, Elaina, for a few days before heading up into Spain. The timing was perfect as the trip fell right before I begin my position with The College Board. So we packed our bags, and I met both Lauren and Elaina in New York!
We flew from JFK to Madrid for a short layover before boarding a flight to Casablanca. Elaina studied Arabic in Morocco last summer, so she recommended that we spend our time in the capital city of Rabat. This meant that in our delirious jet lagged state, we had to navigate the train system in the Casablanca airport to take the hour ride north along the shore to Rabat.
After lugging our luggage out from the train compartment and onto the platform, I looked around and it finally hit me that I was in a completely foreign place!
Upon our arrival to our beautiful hotel, Riad Sakina, we were greeted with traditional Moroccan mint tea and sweets. Riad comes from the Arabic word "ryad" which means garden. So a riad is a large Moroccan home with a garden inside that has been converted into a bed and breakfast of sorts.
We decided to take the tea up to the roof for some fresh air and to take in our new neighborhood.
Cheers! To new adventures in Morocco!
But first, check out my incredible room:
We each had our own sitting room and more than enough closet space! The setting made me feel like I was in an Arabian palace!
After settling in we hit the streets for our first Moroccan meal. Along the way to the water we passed by many vendors selling fresh fruit and argan oil. We chose to stay in the Medina (old city center) of Rabat so we could experience some of the local flavor. Fun fact: cars are not really allowed to drive within the streets of the Medina. The roads are only reserved for pedestrians, carts, and motorbikes.
This stroll began my love affair with Moroccan doors. Seriously, how beautiful are these?
We made it down to the coastline and spotted our restaurant for the evening.
This is Le Dhow, and it's an old ship that has been turned into a floating restaurant!
Being silly and taking tons of photos during our scenic dinner!
Watching the sun set while enjoying more mint tea (it quickly became a favorite of mine).
Here's the restaurant all lit up at night!
Little did we know that a yearly music festival was taking place while we were in town! The weekend we were in Rabat, artists like J Lo, Pharrell Williams, and Sting were performing! We happened to run into one of the stages right outside of our restaurant.
The next morning we began our sightseeing around town led by the wonderful Elaina!
Walking around these streets gave me a true perspective on the differences between our two cultures and ways of living.
The first stop on our tour was the Kasbah des Oudayas. A kasbah is an Islamic city/fortress. This one was inhabited by the Almohads in the eleventh century.
We strolled around the beautiful gardens.
Then we found ourselves at the entrance to the "Blue City". I think the name just speaks for itself...
I even made a new friend along our journey!
Rabat, I have fallen absolutely in love! Sorry for the heavy picture post, but I had to take care of the intro information.
Next up, a visit to the Mausoleum and the bustling souk!