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Back in Casablanca; or “Play it Again, Arnie”

March 6.

On the plane after slow security process. High point of the trip so far was the TSA guy stopping me as I tried to go through with my shoes on. When I told him I was 75, he said I didn’t look it. Tipped him five bucks.

Given what we’re used to, the 8-hour flight to Madrid, business class is a piece of cake. And it actually turns out to be only seven hours. As I have trouble sleeping, I decide to try Ambien, which maybe works a bit, or at least makes you groggy.

Landing in Madrid, I’m confronted by an existential question. Does one walk on a moving walkway, or just stand there. Carol and I, predictably, resolve this question differently. I’m a stander. Since there are about seven miles of moving walkways in our portion of the Madrid airport, Carol has had time to shop, go to the bathroom and eat breakfast by the time I arrive.

Still I believe that there are at least two advantages to my approach. First, I have conserved energy. Thus if we were to encounter, say, a cougar en route to the gate, I’d be better able to fight it off (though, of course, I’d protect Carol from the cougar, too. She relies on me for things like that). And, second, if one believes that moving walkways have feelings (and I believe that with so many moving walkways around the world, that at least some likely do), I’ll have made my moving walkways feel more useful for having carried me along unaided. Travel affords one the opportunity to contemplate issues like this.

In Madrid we have a couple hours layover before continuing on the 3-hour flight to Casablanca, arriving there around noon. After fast-track assistance through the airport, we meet Younes, our guide, who will accompany us for the first six days of our trip in Morocco and our driver, who, helpfully, is also named Younes.

Younes Darif, is a registered and very experienced guide who takes tourists both throughout the cities and countryside. He grew up in and still lives in the UNESCO World Heritage City of Fes. His childhood was spent in the Medina and now he lives in the new modern part of Fes. All of his schooling was done in Fes and he graduated from University with a Bachelor’s Degree. He commenced his Master’s Degree but has deferred its completion temporarily while he takes the chance to travel and gain life experiences. A few years ago he spent time in the USA, working and traveling. His career as a guide in Morocco has been lengthy and he has traveled to every part of this country showcasing it to people of all nationalities. He has in-depth knowledge and a special interest in Jewish Heritage and Islamic Art. In his spare time, when he is not playing with his dog, he tries to read further on these subjects and keep up with world politics.

Originally modeled after Marseilles when the French landed in Casablanca in 1907, Casablanca is the most European of Morocco’s cities and is known as a huge metropolis where modernity and tradition coexist. The city’s French colonial legacy is seen in its downtown architecture, a blend of the old Moorish style and European art deco.

We are staying at Le Doge, which is the epitome of the Art Deco architecture of 1930’s Casablanca – perhaps considered the heyday of this ‘gateway’ to Africa of the then ‘Inter-zone’. Situated near the cathedral, it is at the heart of the Art Deco district and since it opened in 2003 after three years of restoration, it boasts sumptuous fittings with an eclectic mix of influences from the like of Tamara de Lempicka, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Coco Chanel and Josephine Baker. With just 16 rooms and suites (we have a junior suite), this is an intimate, boutique space to begin our journey. We do have a bit more luggage, though, than on our trip 51 years ago.

After checking in to Le Doge, we visit the very large Hassan II Mosque, Third largest in the world, after two in Saudi. Built in the late 1980s and early 1990s, it’s quite spectacular, inside and out.

After the mosque, we went to,a church with beautiful stained glass windows, then back to,the hotel for a drink. Dinner tonight by the sea at Le Cabestan, a restaurant recommended to us by our friends, Chet and a Phyllis Handelman, that was just terrific, both the setting and the food. Back to the hotel to sleep and begin to prepare for tomorrow morning’s takeoff.

8 comments to Back in Casablanca; or “Play it Again, Arnie”


    Love the photos!!!
    Trip is off to a good start!!

  • D.J. (Jan) Baker

    Your guide sounds terrific. Wonderful photos. And, of course, a timely reminder not to take for granted the feelings of moving walkways.

  • Julie Heifetz

    Glad to see the trip hasn’t dulled your sense of humor, or my sister’s break-neck speed. Now that you’re settled in such a gorgeous suite, I hope yu get some sleep.

  • Lauri Pollack

    Sounds just great. Love the mosaics.

  • Rick Trenkmann

    As you might guess I am a concourse walker.
    Sitting is not good for you but there is no alternative
    on a plane where you sit for hours. So it helps average
    out the sitting/walking ratio.‍♂️

    Have a great trip.


    ps Hi Carol. Have not talked to you in a long time.

  • ahdina


  • arnie

    Yes, and I prefer to drive my marathons, Rick.

  • kay osborne

    Seems like a great start, can’t wait to follow along, K

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