Layover in Casablanca
August 3, 2016 11:33 AM   Subscribe

I have the option of an approximately 23hr layover in Casablanca, Morocco. I would arrive at CMN at 11:00PM, and then depart at 11:00PM the next day -- which would give me the one day to enjoy the city. Has anyone done this before?

I don't really have the option of leaving Casablanca. I would love to see Fez, but it's not in the cards. I've got limited time.

If this works out, my plan is:

- Take a taxi from the airport to a hotel near/in the Old Medina
- Walk around the Old Medina in the morning/afternoon, visit the Hasan II mosque
- Go back to airport by taxi in the early evening (I might have to pay for an extra day to have a place to keep my luggage?? how do you deal with this?)

I've done some Googling about travelling in Casablanca. I looked up whether I could change currency at the airport (probably), get a taxi to the hotel (yes), and so on. I have some remaining questions tho:

- I'm comfortable walking long distances but I would rather not get lost, which seems likely in the Old Medina since it's definitely not a grid. How do travellers deal? My cell company in the US does not have good roaming deals; my phone will probably not work. If I do get lost and have to ask for directions, how widespread is French / English knowledge?

- How easy is it to hail a taxi? I read up on their pricing, how not to get fleeced etc, but nothing says how easy it is to just hail one if for some reason I just need a ride back to my hotel or whatever. Also, how good is the average taxi driver's French or English?

- Any suggestions for eats in the area? I am not a particularly picky eater. I will just get hungry.

- Any suggestions for hotels in the area? I ruled out a couple that didn't seem to have a 24hr front desk because I'll be late. The Sheraton looks like the best bet so far, even though I would prefer something...more central? Homier? I'm not too picky about luxury, but I appreciate cleanliness.

- Any other suggestions for what I could do in a day? Not really a fan of guided tours. Although that would solve the "getting lost" problem I guess....
posted by Kutsuwamushi to Travel & Transportation around Casablanca, Morocco (4 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Airport to city shouldn't be too bad in the middle of the night but give yourself PLENTY of time for the ride back. Casablanca traffic must be seen to be believed.

Nearly everyone in Casa speaks French. Not much English except at tourist stuff and the big hotels.

Those traditional guest houses with the gorgeous interior courtyards are called riads. The ones in Casablanca are probably going to be Disneyland-esque reproductions (there's a shortage of ancient buildings like in Fes or Marrakech) but if you want something less generic than the Sheraton, search for the word riad instead of hotel.

Most hotels will let you stash luggage at the front desk if you ask nicely.
posted by theodolite at 1:17 PM on August 3, 2016

I lived in Casa for a while post-college! Here's my take:

I don't love the Casa medina. It's a small-ish, lacks the history and grandeur of the Marrakech and Fez medinas, and doesn't feel the safest in places. If this is your only chance in a while to see an old medina, it still might be worth a shot, but I would suggest an alternative: Maarif (my old neighborhood). Specifically, the area between Twin Center and Boulevard Bir Anzirane.

Maarif is a central, bustling middle-class neighborhood and my favorite area in Casa. It has street life, markets, and cafes, and offers a great view into the traditional-meets-urban melee of Casa. It's not overly touristy, and it's on a grid, so you won't get lost.

Hailing a taxi on the main boulevards is very easy, and taxis are incredibly cheap (just make sure the meter's running!). For short trips, you want the red "petit taxis". Be aware that taxi sharing is the norm, so the driver may pick up other passengers.

Restaurant recommendation: La Sqala, near the Hassan II mosque. Great traditional/French food in an abandoned military fort.

Seconding that nearly everyone speaks French, and a friendly "salam, la bas?" will get you far!
posted by beezer_twelve at 1:47 PM on August 3, 2016 [6 favorites]

Yeah I stayed in a small hotel in the Gauthier district, near where beezer_twelve is talking about. It's a nice area - cosmopolitan, lots of restaurants and cafes, very safe for pedestrians, feels like Nice or Tel Aviv. You could do worse than chilling out there for a day.
posted by theodolite at 2:17 PM on August 3, 2016

Another vote for staying away from the medina. Listen to beezer_twelve
posted by mumimor at 12:20 AM on August 4, 2016

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