Posts tagged ‘Morocco’
Part of the imperial City tour program for Morocco which was promoted by our guide was the Fantazia Show, he said we could watch the famous Belly dancing and a lot of other traditional performances, while enjoying our traditional Moroccan dinner.
The truth is, yes, we might see traditional and Berber culture, which included horse riding, tambourine music, and….??? I think that’s about it. Yes Belly dancing was shown as the main attraction, but don’t get too excited!
What was beyond my expectation was instead of having the show in a small tent and somebody performing for a small group of tourists of say 40 people max, our guide took us to somewhere out of town to an open air function area especially built for this show. The development was look like a pseudo Moroccan castle with ‘cheap quality’ decoration, a large area of ground in the middle of it for the ‘horse show’. Around it was concrete benches and dining rooms for groups of people to have their dinner while being entertained by terrible Arabic entertainment. After the dinner they let us move to the arena to watch the belly dancing in the dark and from a long distance, and very a traditional horse show.
Moral of the story is: if you were offered to go to the Fantazia Show, DON’T GO!!!!
I heard the name Berber from an Algerian friend, as she said the Berber people was very European looking instead of North African/Arab looking, I was wondering who they were and how they looked. As I visited Morocco in February, the word Berber popped up a few times; but who are they? According to Wikipedia: they are the indigenous peoples of North Africa west of the Nile Valley. They are distributed from the Atlantic to the Siwa oasis, in Egypt, and from the Mediterranean to the Niger River. However some thought that their descendants are of mixed origins, – including Oriental, Saharan, and European. So maybe that is why they look like this:
Today the Berbers mostly reside in the Atlas mountains, with a different type of architecture and decoration to those in the cities of Morocco. Their houses look like this:
The term for this kind of architecture is ‘mud architecture’. Village Asni is the first large village on our journey out of Marrakech. Up close this is what it looks like. Picture of this can be seen on my previous post on Moroccan Landscape.
Yes, by the look of the picture, it shows that electricity is already there, but when I look inside; it’s still very basic. There are no such things like ca ooking range, or microwave or a simple electric heater. Daily activities are like the olden days, using charcoal and cooking traditional Moroccan Bread and Tajene in a clay pot.
We were lucky that we took the option within our tour to visit one of the Berber houses. Where they served us their famous Moroccan Tea and their ‘bread’.
Below photograph, inside the ‘mud house’, is their living room where they eventually performed the ritual of mixing mint tea in front their guests, (which was all 20 of us). Together with the tea, also served was Moroccan Bread.
It was here that I found out that Moroccan Tea is different from any other Arabian Mint Tea, where normally I can find anywhere within the Arabian countries. Here the process of mixing tea when the water is still very hot, like our host demonstrated here.
To the Berbers, obviously, the process of mixing tea together is sort of ritual. The outcome…. I would say, for those who are not tea connoisseurs, maybe the same like any other mint tea, but to me… it was very nice.
King Hassan II Mosque is the largest mosque in Morocco and claims to be the 2nd largest in the world; it is only behind the Grand Mosque in Mecca. Designed with Moorish influences by French architect Michel Pinseau, the construction began in July 1986 on reclaimed land, — almost half of it from the Atlantic Ocean and part of its expanse of flooring is ocean-viewing glass. Granite, plaster, marble and wood were all sourced in Morocco, with the exception of its Italian granite columns and glass chandeliers. Moroccan artisans produced the Mosque’s beautiful mosaics, stone and marble floors and columns, plaster mouldings and carved wooden ceilings. King Hassan II Mosque has space for 25,000 worshipers inside and another 80,000 outside. Whether it’s true or not that this is the second biggest mosque in the world, the 210-meter minaret however, is the tallest in the world and is visible day and night for miles around.
As it is a modern mosque, it has to have a modern touch, which are electric doors, a sliding roof, and lasers which shine at night from the top of the minaret towards Mecca and of course it was built to withstand earthquakes. How do the Casablancans feel about Hassan II Mosque? Well, On one hand, they are proud that this beautiful monument dominates their city. On the other, they are aware that the expense (estimates range from $500 to 800 million) could have been put to other uses. To build the mosque, it was necessary to destroy a large, shanty town section of Casablanca. The residents did not receive any compensation.
However, to look at the other side of the story, as it now fully operational, Casablanca could also be proud, they manage to clear the shanty area and become a tourist destination and generate money.
Do we need a large and big mosque for a country of 36 million people or a city of around 3.6 million population? Compare this with the not very famous Istiqlal Mosque in Jakarta (with population of 15 million people), the capital of Indonesia that can cater for 120,000 worshipers at a time, it never claimed to be the largest mosque outside Saudi. Another interesting fact I found in Wikipedia about large mosques, certainly Hassan II Mosque was never close to being number 2 largest mosque in terms of capacity or area.
You might like my other post related to Casablanca:
Rick’s Cafe was made famous in the legendary movie, Casablanca. The movie was set in this particular cafe. I thought Rick was a myth made famous in the movie. however, my other half insisted to go to Rick’s Cafe, “There must be a Rick’s Cafe here…;”
When we talked to other travelers, we found out that there is Rick’s Cafe in Casablanca and it’s called exactly that Rick’s Cafe Casablanca, instead of Rick’s Cafe Americain as in the movie.
As we went back to Casablanca at the end of our tour, we visited Rick’s, and I have to give top marks to the architect that resurrected the place into the legend of the movie, everything was similar to the movie, and what made it more alive was the decor, the white drapes, the palm trees in pots, the shade of the pendant lights…. everything was just like my imagination of the colonial style and Mediterranean atmosphere, similar to the movie.
What made it even more special was that I met Lennie Bluett, the guest pianist who has a connection with the movie and was there to celebrate the 8th year anniversary of the cafe… Believe it or not we stayed in the same hotel and we kept bumping to each other. What I missed is that I was not quick enough to ask for his autograph or take a picture together….
However, I managed to take pictures of the interior decoration of the whole restaurant:
You might like my other post related to Casablanca:
You might like my other post on Morocco:
More picture of Morocco on my Facebook Page
Although I live in Doha, with it’s “traditional” Arabian souq, the real souq I have seen and which fascinated me was the souq in Aleppo. However, we are in Fez today, our tour started from the Jewish Quarter, and our guide said that this is the ‘organized’ area of the city compared to the real Medina. I thought this facade in the alleyway is similar to the alleys of Mykonos in Greece only this one is not in white and blue. However, this is far busier than Mykonos.
To my surprise, the road was not that long, soon we were back on our bus again…. that’s it; it turns out that the fabulous Jewish Quarter is located outside the Medina, as we rode the bus heading to the real Souq.
The Walled City of Fès ,
OK, a bit of information about the city which I copied from Wikipedia, that Fes is the third or fourth largest city in Morocco today but it was the capital of Morocco during the Moroccan Empire, and as many historic places, Fes also has bits of the Old City called the Medina. It comprises three distinct parts, Fes el Bali (the old, walled city), Fes-Jdid (new Fes, home of the Mellah) and the Ville Nouvelle (the French-created, newest section of Fes). “Fes el Bali” is a UNESCO World Heritage Site; this medina, the larger of the two medinas of Fes, claims to be the world’s largest contiguous car-free urban area.
To see Fes el Bali, one has to be there, feel the life and vibrant of the life of Fes, but we can see Fes from the distance as well, that is from the ancient walled city is from the ruined Merenid Tombs on a hilltop to the east of the city. From here you can see the skyline with its profusion of satellite dishes, and a general mass of palaces, green-roofed holy places, the tanneries, as well as the adjacent Karaouine Mosque.
Behind the Medina’s high walls is a magical, medieval city just teeming with life in every one of its 9000 narrow streets. As Fes today is the cultural and spiritual capital of Morocco what I experienced there was really different, the alley ways were smaller, there were no cars at all as the streets are not wide enough, the idea of the visit is getting lost in the labyrinth of the Medina. When our guide took us for a whole day tour, I was amazed that he did not got lost in the very small alleyways all over the place.
Fes is a colourful old city, everything is interesting: the vibrancy of the people doing their daily life activities, the noise of buying and selling, the elusive traditionally dressed Moroccans, veiled women going about their work and bell-ringing water sellers as well as the main transportation inside this Medina, the donkey.
To avoid getting lost, a guided tour is the easiest way to tackle the buzzing hive that is traditional Fez, but if you are brave, you can negotiate the tiny alleyways, too narrow for cars whilst risking getting lost and then haggling with a local to be guided back out!
More picture could be seen on my Facebook Page