Casablanca: City of Contradictions

A beach club in Casablanca; photos by Megan Dempsey

Editor’s note: TCT contributor Megan Dempsey, and her husband, Idriss, are traveling around his native Morocco for several months. This post is taken from her blog.

Casablanca is a city of contradictions: Fading colonial city. Bustling financial center. Mercedes sedans jostling with donkey-powered carts on the roads. Women wearing traditional Moroccan djellabas (loose robes) and babouche (slippers) walking arm-in-arm with girls in skinny jeans and stilettos. Old-school Moroccan restaurants next to modern sushi bars. Severe pollution and smog. Pristine Atlantic beaches. A plethora of palm trees, yet litter everywhere.

Traditional architectural details in Casablanca's old quarter, called Habous

It’s scary to cross the street in Casablanca, a densely populated city of over 3 million people. There are seemingly no left-turn arrows anywhere, and red lights are seen as suggestions rather than obligatory signals. Moroccans are traffic scofflaws, and I’m only partially kidding. Making matters worse, a car is really the only way to get around the place. A tramway under construction is snarling traffic even worse in the meantime.

The promenade to La Corniche

But Casablanca is fascinating all the same. In our two days there, we walk at La Corniche (the beach), explore the old quarter called Habous, and luxuriate in the hammam, a Turkish-style bath where I am lucky enough to get an Argan-oil massage. I relax just enough, before holding my breath, for the scary drive home.

Breakfast "complet" for $4.50 for two

And did I mention how well we are eating? Moroccans are famous for preparing elaborate meals for guests. Plus, you can get great meals on a budget: A breakfast “complet” at a cafe costs just $4.50 for two people, with tip, and included homemade bread with cheese, olive oil and thyme; an egg; yogurt; fresh-squeezed orange juice and coffee or mint tea.

Sweets from a favorite spot, Patisserie Bennis

We’re walking for as many hours as possible every day to balance out the treats.

  • I loved my brief time there and was surprised that not a lot of tourists like it as much as I.

    • mohamed acharaoui

      i m moroccan, Your Welcome