Rabat, Morocco’s capitol, is not the ancient, crowded dark city I expected. It is white and bright and modern.The Grand Theater across the Bou Regreg River from our hotel is a dramatic example of modern Rabat.
We arrived in Rabat later than planned but in time to meet and dine with Abdou, our OAT guide and the other fourteen people in our group.
The Royal Palace
After seeing modern Rabat the night we arrived, the next day we visited more historic areas. Soon after leaving our hotel, we met Yusef, our guide for the day and drove to the Royal Palace of Mohamed VI, the king of Morocco.
The palace sits at the end of a large parade ground. We noticed various security measures protecting the palace- a guarded entrance to the compound, chain barriers preventing visitors from getting too close and colorfully-dressed guards posted at the front of the palace.
A small mosque sits across from the palace. We heard the second of the five daily calls to prayer when we arrived.
Mohamed V Mausoleum
The Mohamed V Mausoleum was our next stop. It contains the remains of King Mohamed V and his two sons, King Hassan II and Prince Abdallah. Richly dressed soldiers on horseback guard the entrance.
The mausoleum complex includes a mosque and future museum. At the front of the mosque we observed men entering one doorway for prayers and women entering another.
Opposite the mausoleum and mosque is the Hassan Tower. The tower is a minaret of an incomplete mosque begun near the end of the 12th century. During the time we were there I heard what I thought was a call to prayer. Yusef told us it was a man reciting-not reading- the Quaran.
Take Me to the Kasbah
Next we visited the Kasbah Oudeya. A kasbah is a fortress, and this was a very nice fortress. On the outside it looks like a fort.
On the inside it looks like a small village with beautiful whitewashed homes, little shops and a great view of the ocean.
We ended our stroll through the kasbah at the Andalusian Gardens. Abdou shared with us that the gardens were special for him because he had asked his wife to marry him there. When I said, “What a lovely spot for a proposal”, he explained that it wasn’t a proposal because they had just met each other the day he asked her to marry him.
In Morocco, marriage happens before love. When Abdou was ready to get married, a cousin showed him his future wife’s picture. He was interested and she was interested and the families arranged a meeting. Now they have a loving marriage and three young children.
We ended a fabulous day with our traditional OAT Welcome Dinner (which was really a Farewell, Rabat dinner because we leave tomorrow) at a beautiful Moroccan restaurant. Walking down the narrow street on our way to the restaurant, we saw beautifully carved doors, rows of potted plants and a narrow strip of the blue night sky.
The restaurant is located in a riad, a traditional Moroccan house centered around an interior open space. The ceiling, surrounded by beautiful carved wood, opened to the night sky.
We feasted on traditional Moroccan cooked salads and stuffed vegetables. My favorite part of the meal was the amazing almond dessert presented by our charming server.
Tomorrow we leave bright and early for Fes. (That is not a typo-the city we call Fez is Fes in Morocco.) The adventure continues.