Having lived in two vastly different countries, I took a plunge and booked my first solo trip to Morocco.
The long early wait
In September of 2018, I booked my first flight ticket abroad. I set the date for Friday, December 7. (Fridays in Egypt are the equivalent of Saturdays in the West. The first day of the 2-day weekend.)
The destination airport: Casablanca Mohammed V International Airport.
I was excited in those very early hours of the pre-dawn twilight of that day. The adrenaline of a new adventure.
But, lo and behold, plans were made to be interrupted, and my journey hit its first bump before I even boarded the plane. The flight was delayed. One hour. Then that hour turned into two. Until, eventually, a nearly-4-hour flight delay was over and we started to board.
The flight was originally scheduled for 8:10 AM. Instead, we took off at around 11:50.
Of course I arrived a bit over 3 hours before the flight, so the long morning featured 6 hours in the very early hours of the day waiting for a 5-and-a-half hour flight.
(The reason for the flight delay, according to the crew, was that the dense fog of the early Casablanca morning was unsafe for landing, so they had to wait for it to clear before taking off from Cairo. The following morning, there was indeed a dense fog I witnessed when I visited one of the landmarks in Casablanca.)
I flew economy on an EgyptAir flight, with a window seat on the left side for a good view of the North African landscape and the snow-capped Atlas Mountains when we flew over Tunisia and Algeria.
The experience was fine. Nothing horrific I can remember now, at least. Apart from that long delay, though.
Arrival: Airport, train, and walk
We finally landed around 5:30 PM Cairo Time | 4:30 PM Casablanca Time. It felt more like 8 PM.
I passed through airport security rather smoothly. I purchased a Maroc Telecom SIM card with prepaid 'plan' at one of their booths at the airport (only because, from the reviews I saw online, it had great coverage), got it activated, and found the Casablanca Airport Train Station right below the halls of the airport. (Talk about convenient transportation!)
I purchased a ticket to the Casa Voyageurs Train Station and waited about 45 minutes for the next train.
I arrived at the Casa Voyageurs train station, took the escalator from the platform to the station's hall, and took a few minutes to appreciate the modern interior design of it. Simple, organized, clean, and easy to navigate.
I made my way to the escalators and stairs that led to the Sidi Mohammed Square/Casa Voyageurs Park. A pedestrian area with grass, trees, benches, and walkways, with a tramway station in the middle and surrounded by streets.
The Casa Voyageurs Train Station and public square
Sleep, at last!
I dragged my small wheeled luggage along from the station, through El Yassir Square, and to the Campanile Hotel. A decent 15 minute walk.
I checked in and went up to my room, only to realize I forgot to bring a toothbrush and toothpaste along! (When I got back home, I found them in the bag on the table where I had left and forgotten them. So it was almost packed.)
I went back down and took a quick walk around. Having been used to stores in Egypt opening to well past midnight, it was odd to find nothing nearby within a short walking distance open that might have at least a toothbrush!
I walked back to the hotel and asked the front desk if they happen to know anyone nearby that might still be open and sell it. Luckily, they did sell the small travel toothbrushes with a small tube of toothpaste!
All I can remember after that was washing, cleaning, brushing, changing, and sleeping.
I'd take a nice walk, get lost, then jump on a train to a new city the next day.
Read about day 2 of my trip to Morocco, the second largest mosque in Africa, and the continent's first high-speed train.
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© 2021 Mohamed Zeineldine