Whenever we travel, Nico take a lot of pics. Like a bucket load of it (which I am honestly grateful for). He is into taking pics and he is pretty good at it, so I let the boy have fun with his new-found hobby. He also encourages me to take pics too while we travel, he even bought me two new cameras to get me into the mood. The thing is,
I am lazy there are things that are just too great to capture in photograph form. Sometimes it’s better to enjoy it with every sense you have than being busy adjusting the camera setting to capture the moment and witness everything thru the tiny camera peep hole viewfinder.
Our trip to Morocco was no different. He tried his damnedest to document our travel in this harsh and arid land (I also did my part; I took tons of blurry images that don’t even close capturing the awesomeness of the view, and selfies, of course). Our second city to visit on this trip was Rabat, an hour north of Casablanca. Rabat, due to its location, has a friendlier weather compare to the other cities we visited in Morocco. Roaming around and taking pictures during the day was easy. The city is more well-maintained and it is by far the cleanest major city in Morocco, frankly (perhaps because it is the capital of the country so they put more effort into it). It was amazing how easy it was to get around – wide sidewalks, friendly petit taxis that put on their meter without you even ask (this is abso-fuckin-lutely not happening in Marrakech), trams, and city buses.
Here are some major spots to discover in the city that we found very well worth it to visit:
Like any other Moroccan city, Rabat has an old, maze-like medina, surrounded by thick wall, and here was where we stayed. Staying in medina is highly suggested because
you can find street food easily it’s the hub of culture and social activity for the locals.
The good news is, the vendors in this medina are way friendlier and laid back than those at other medinas. Outside the wall, cafes and fine restaurants are lining the streets with their open terraces. Old building and modern building stand side by side, contrasting each other.
Kasbah of the Udayas
Like the medina in Casablanca, the medina in Rabat is also not far from the ocean. In fact it sits right on the mouth of Bou Regreg river’s opening to the ocean. Just a walk away to the north from the medina lays this 12th century fortress called the Kasbah of the Udayas with its amazingly huge door. Seriously, I am curious what the Moroccan were welcoming in their building that they had to make their door so huge??
Inside the Kasbah, the hundreds years old houses are lining up tightly side by side along the rustic narrow streets, and everything is painted white and blue. I have been told that the blue paint is believed to ward off mosquitoes because the blood-sucking insects simply don’t like the color (heck, I thought they were colorblind!).
Decorated doors and random cats taking nap in the middle of the passage way made our stroll in this Kasbah very enjoyable (apart from that one unsolicited tour guide pestering with his unsolicited services along the way, but that’s a story for another post).
The main alleys in this Kasbah lead to a cliff-side viewing point, where you can find the Rabat beach to the north and the Bou Regreg marina to the east.This Kasbah has been given the World Heritage Status by the UNESCO since 2012. It is definitely a place to visit!
Bou Regreg marina
IMHO, Bou Regreg marina is the place to hang out around Rabat medina. Chic restaurants offering their best seafood menu lined up neatly along this marina.
We had the best stuffed calamari in tomato sauce at one of the restaurants. The appetizer was free; an array of various olives, cheese, and bread. Fancy pantsy? Indeed, but it’s not just that, the restaurants also offer the best view overlooking the mighty kasbah.
Mausoleum of Mohammed V
South East of the medina, there are another awesome structures to visit on the Yacoub Al Mansyur esplanade; the Hassan Tower and the mausoleum of Mohammed V. This must be one of Morocco’s most valued area because it is all time guarded by royal guards mounted on horses.
The construction of the tower was started in the 12th century, and the word has it that the tower was intended to be the tallest minaret in the world. Unfortunately, the project has never been completed, the construction of this minaret was abandon when the sultan who initiated the tower died. The minaret was planned to be so tall that in the inside, instead of stairs, there is a ramp where the muezzin (the person who call prayers) can go up riding a horse and issue the prayer call from the top of the minaret. How awesome would that be??
The mausoleum is located right on the opposite of the tower and it contains the late King Hasan II (the grandfather of the present king of Morocco) and his two sons. From the outside, the mausoleum looks pretty humble with its white walls and green roof (totally Islamic colors), but once you managed to pass those
handsome serious-looking guards, you will find such a stunning interior elaborately decorated with Morocco’s best traditional craftmanship with intricate zellij mosaics down from the floor to up the ceiling of hand-carved cedar wood and golden leaf muqarnas.
Between the tower and the mausoleum are the pillars that were meant to be the pillar of a huge mosque, which was also abandon halfway of the construction.
The Chellah necropolis
Do you remember when I said that the ancient Roman were the true travelers? Well, they were. In fact, you can even find their foot steps right here in Rabat. Chellah or also known as the Roman town of Sala Colonia is located just a few step away from Rabat old town. .
The ancient roman city is surrounded by walls which has been restored by the government as part of their effort in maintaining this historical city. The main attraction of this place is the kittens..
Just kidding, although there are a significant number of cats roaming freely in this fortified city, the main attraction of this place are the ruins of what once used to be a very busy city. You will find the ruins of a religious school, remains of courtyard, fountain, dormitories, and storks. Yes, storks, the baby mailman bird (although unfortunately neither of us managed to get any pic of the bird).
Through his pics, Nico has taught me a bitter lesson; sometime the best pics taken are those without me in it…