early afternoon to have lunch at our
hotel and rest after our
long plane ride and trip from Casablanca. We also had
dinner at our hotel on the River Bou
river separates the twin cities of Salé and Rabat. We then met as a
group for introductions. Our guide, Hassan, was from
Tangiers. We stayed 2 nights in Rabat.
The next morning after breakfast we had an introduction to
the Arabic language (28 letters - 8 vowels). When writing
in Arabic, it is common to delete the vowel symbols. (When
the Koran was written by Mohammed, no vowels were used.)
Words are written in horizontal lines from right to left,
numerals are written from left to right. Most letters
change form depending on whether they appear at the beginning,
middle or end of a word, or on their own. And you thought
English was hard to learn.
Our first destination was to the walled
grounds. All we saw was the exterior gate to the Royal
Palace and lots of guards. The kings entourage
includes palace guards (in red tunics), national police (gray uniforms), royal
army (green hat), Islamic
officials (in white djellabas), and hand-servants. The grounds were
A short distance away was the
Kasbah des Oudaias and the Andalusian Gardens.
The palace was built by Moulay Ismail. The main gate, Almohad Bab Oudaia,
was first built in 1159.
Outside the wall of the Royal Palace was the ruins and wild
gardens of the Berber city,
Chellah. Initially it was the
remains of an ancient Roman city Sala Colonia. It then
became the independent city of Chellah and later became the
Merenid's royal burial grounds in the 14th Century. We
entered through the Bab ar-Rouah (Gate of the Winds). One
interesting aspect was the large number of storks nesting in
trees and top of the ruins. They migrate to France for
part of the year. We saw the storks as far south as Asni.
I did get one quick picture of the
U.S. compound in Rabat.
One of the big attractions in Rabat is the
mausoleum of King
Mohammed V. There is a small mosque next to
the mausoleum. The Tour Hassan is in front of the
mausoleum and overlooks the Atlantic. The plans were for
The Tour Hassan Mosque to be the largest and highest in the
Muslim world. That dream crumbled in the 1775 earthquake
which destroyed everything except the pillars and minaret.
There was a walking tour of the
medina and a stop at the
That evening we had a wonderful
at one of the best restaurants, Dinarjat Gastronomie Marocaine, in the
We walked the narrow alleyways to enter a spectacular
restaurant. We had rose water poured over our hands before
dinner and then after the meal "blessed on the head"
with the rose water. The meal started with 8 or 9
appetizers, then chicken, 2 kinds of lamb and desert. The
rest room was worth a look. (see pictures)
Back at the hotel a local woman who worked for an American agency
gave an interesting talk on the women in Morocco -
Islamic customs, school, work, travel, marriage, etc. We
could ask any questions - which we did - some very
personal. She was gracious enough to answer everything we
asked. It made for a better understanding of the
"city working woman".
--> Volubilis and Meknès