Posted March 17th, 2013, 01:38 AM
Holy crap! Casa to Kech and back in a day? NO THANK YOU!
I lived in Morocco for 4.5 years. If you are going to Casa, my suggestions are:
1. Get out of Casa. Seriously. Other than Morocco Mall (and who the hell goes to Morocco to see a mall?!?) and the mosque that, yes, is maybe worth walking around for 10-15 minutes or touring... Casa is the armpit of Morocco.
2. Think about going to Rabat. I lived there the last two years I was in Morocco and miss it horribly. You can probably hire a guide for the day in Rabat-- let me know if the ship doesn't offer anything and I can message privately some info once I check with friends.
If you do Rabat, I'd check out:
- The Chellah-- old Mereneid ruins next to Roman Ruins right outside the Rabat city gates! There's not a lot of information on the history, so I'd either hire a guide (there or if you have a city guide for your time there, great) or do some research beforehand. It's only 10 MAD to get in ($1.25ish) and a great place to visit.
- The old Medina. If you are a walker, I'd walk there from the train station: just continue down Avenue Mohammed V past the Parliament and hotel Balima: you'll run right into one of the two main drags. I recommend a map: the main streets of interest are Mohammed V, Souika (busy! bustling!) and Rue de Negotiants (artisanal goods/souvenirs). You could spend a whole day getting lost. It's not the same as Marrakesh-- not by a long shot!-- but it's fantastic. I recommend tasting the sugar cane juice as well as an avocado and ginger smoothie. There are also fantastic olives sold by the bucket on Souika-- DELICIOUS and affordable. Rue de Negotiants has excellent souvenir opportunities.
At the end of Rue de Negotiants, you'll exit the old Medina and find yourself right across the street from the Oudaya. Go there-- it's a fortified neighborhood that literally used to be a pirate fort and the capital of the rogue pirate nation founded by the Sale (Sallee) Rovers. Today, there are gardens, a museum with jewelry from around Morocco, a fantastic cafe that overlooks the river Bouregreg (skip the coffee, try a gazelle horn and tea!), houses painted in white and blue, a row of shops and galleries, a carpet "factory," and a viewing platform with stunning views of the ocean, river with its blue fluca boats, Sale (sister city across the river) and lighthouse.
As far as what else to do, I'd recommend a meal at Dar Neji for affordable authentic traditional Moroccan food. The roof is traditional, the prices are good, and there are a lot of options. Don't miss out on the salad plate with a trio of salads. I also recommend trying other people in your group's food: chicken tagine with preserved lemons, couscous, bastilla, and kefta with eggs should NOT be missed. Skip desert at Neji and get ice cream or gelato on the street.
Getting to Rabat is fairly easy... well. No. I don't know how seasoned of travelers you are. I'd either walk to Casa Port train station or take a red "petit taxi" (pay the price on the meter), depending on where exactly the ship docks. Trains run every hour during off times and every half hour during the day. It's about a 70 minute trip each way, 70 MAD round-trip for 2nd class, 105 MAD round-trip for first. (I don't mind second-class... but you are guaranteed an assigned seat in first, so it's up to whatever you are comfortable with).
If you have even a small working knowledge of French, you should be fine. You will most likely be perfectly fine with English as well-- if not, most Moroccans are friendly and open to helping-- if you need help, asking if someone speaks English at a store or restaurant will hopefully result in them finding someone to help. I'd be more wary in Casa of people than Rabat, but I'm also a bit biased.
From the train station in Rabat (the second one- Rabat Ville.... NOT Rabat Agdal), everything except the Chellah is within walking distance if you are comfortable walking a few miles. I recommend it-- you get to see so much more that way!
In any case-- if you (or anyone else in the future reading this board) has any other questions, let me know. I love Morocco. I miss it daily. I HATE that so many people only see a tiny sliver of it (especially when people just see Tangier or Casa which are dumpy and sketchy if you don't know what you are doing) and miss out... so I will do whatever I can to help with people having a good experience.
I also spent a few months in Kech, so I can answer a lot of questions about that as well.
Bahamas- (one-day short trip to Nassau)- 1992
Eastern Caribbean: Princess (Dawn, maybe)- 1997
Panama Canal: Princess (don't remember the ship)- 1998
Western Caribbean: Royal Caribbean (Voyager-class ship- Explorer, maybe?)- 1999
Alaska- Holland America: (MS Rotterdam)- 2009
Bahamas- Carnival (Fantasy)- 3.22.13