Glass and Textiles from Rabat…

As of May 2021, I am migrating most of my travel journals to Daveno Travels where I am reissuing them as Director’s Cuts, with full text and previously unpublished photos. This is an excerpt from my trip to Rabat, Morocco in 2017.

Rabat is the capital and the political, administrative and financial center of Morocco, and the second largest metropolis behind Casablanca. I am also told it has a bit of pirate history although I have not yet tracked that down. The city dates to the 10th century and was located near the Roman port of Sala.

We drive along the crenelated wall of the Kasbah of the Oudaias which surrounds the oldest part of the medina, and find a place to park. The rest of our way is on foot through the covered alleys to our lodging for the night.

We walk through an unassuming wooden door and into a courtyard, 3 stories tall, covered at the top with a pyramid-shaped glass ceiling. We have arrived at our first riad – the the Dar El Kabira. It’s stunning, filled with light, and furnished as though it were the home of a nobleman.  I admire a tall set of carved double doors with large brass barrel locks, wondering where the door leads to. Soon, we are given our keys and are led to our rooms.  I nearly fall over backwards when the door I have been admiring, turns out to be the door to my room …

Our guide, Doug Baum, takes us down to the waterfront for a spectacular sunset, and steals this shot of me in my new traditional Moroccan caftan and pants. I would buy clothing in nearly every city we visit, after arriving without any luggage. (My suitcase would be waiting for me in Casablanca three weeks later…)

Dinner tonight is at the Dar Naji restaurant, where we sample our first classic Moroccan cuisine, and a very skilled waiter who is pouring tea into six glasses which he is rotating in one hand, and pouring from above his head in the other.

After breakfast the next day, I rush up and down the stairs, trying to find the embroidered caftans that I can see hanging on the walls from the courtyard floor.  The maids sound French, and are dressed in white shirts, pants and short aprons, with crisp white bonnets covering their hair.  They’re looking at me from around the corners and giggling, and the manager of the hotel finally tells me that they are pleased to see a guest in traditional dress.  “Tell them I lost all my clothes at the airport, and I am now dressing Moroccan.”  The hunt for an elusive floor continues until one of the maids leads me to –the other staircase– which gets me to the third floor and allows me to complete my quest. Also shown here is the infamous staircase, and a piece of Chinese brocade upholstery from a chair in the lobby, which was a fun thing to see here.

Today we visit the Mausoleum of Mohammed V, a leader revered as the father of Moroccan Independence. The mausoleum was commissioned by his son, Hassan II and was built by 400 Moroccan craftsmen using white Italian marble. Its stained glass windows and dome hail from France.

We finish the day roaming around in the Kasbah of the Oudaias, the 12th century fortification at the head of the medina, restored during the 17th-18th centuries. We did not get into the museum or the gardens, but I hear they are highly recommended.  Make plans to see them when you go.

Photo credit: Brenda Dougal Merriman. I’m still kicking myself for not buying a hat from this artisan / performer.

See additional photos of the sites of the day at Daveno Travels.

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