Christmas Eve in the Sahara
On Christmas Day last year I wrote here about our Christmas in the the Sahara desert a few years ago. We were on a guided tour of Morocco – you can read about our adventures in recent posts (go to the Archives or use the cloud on the side bar). Our tour dates happened to bring us into the Sahara on Christmas Eve.
Once we had left our bus – including our luggage – we saw a group of camels waiting patiently to take us into the desert. I had seen the amazing colours of the Sahara in photos, but until you experience it with your own eyes at sunset, you don’t fully appreciate the depth of the colours. Some of the tour group dressed up for the occasion, including my wife and daughter (see photo below).
As we set off into the desert I realised how difficult it is to take photos while travelling on a camel. I think this was my first ever ride on a camel. The camel constantly lurches forward and then back. It is an animal which does not make a very good platform for photography. I am pleased I managed to get a few reasonable shots during the hour long journey.
In the coming days I will show more photos of this part of our journey, including our camp site in the desert.
The Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca, Morocco
One of the highlights of our visit to Morocco was a hour or so spent at the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca on our first morning in the country. This enormous mosque is architecturally stunning, both in design and size. The photos do not do it justice, and one’s camera does a poor job of conveying the sheer magnificence and beauty of such a structure. Truly awe inspiring.
The Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca, Morocco
On the first morning of our tour of Morocco we left our hotel in Casablanca early and within a few minutes’ drive we had arrived at the magnificent Hassan II Mosque. This is a truly amazing building in many ways:
- It is the 7th largest mosque in the world
- The minaret at 210 metres is the tallest in the world
- It is built out over the sea, which made it a challenging engineering project
- The mosaics and artistry are only two of its great attributes
In the coming days I will post many more photos of this truly amazing building.
A short evening walk in Casablanca
On our first evening of our tour of Morocco we braved the wet conditions to go for an evening walk. After sitting in planes for many hours we were all pleased to get out, stretch our legs, get some fresh air and exercise. Most of the rain had by then dissipated and the wind was minimal, though quite cool. On all of our six week trip this was the only rain we had, except for some light drizzle in Spain one morning a few weeks later.
I would dearly have loved to have had the time to explore this exotic city in much more detail, but we had arrived late afternoon and were scheduled to leave on our guided tour early the next morning. After our walk we had a short rest in our rooms, then decided to use the hotel restaurant for dinner. We sat with a woman from Canada who was also doing the tour with us, so it was good to get to know her and share some travel experiences and backgrounds with each other.
After dinner we had a tour group meeting with Said, our guide, and were able to meet the other people in the tour group. They were a mixed group of people from Australia, China, USA, England and Canada with ages ranging from late 20s to mid 70s.
After settling into our hotel in Casablanca, we went for a short pre-dinner walk despite the light drizzle. I just had to take the photos of the inside of the hotel before we left; the inner courtyard was delightful – our first taste of the mosaics so iconic of Morocco. In the coming days and weeks on this site I will be sharing many, many more photos of beautiful buildings and more, more, more mosaics. Stay tuned.
One of the attractions of coming to Morocco as a part of our itinerary was to visit exotic Casablanca. I guess I had an idealised vision of this city based on the romantic notions brought about by the classic movie of the same name. The movie’s depiction of this city is far removed from reality by time and modernisation. Down-town Casablanca is as modern as any city elsewhere in the world.
Some day I would like to return and explore this city in more detail than the few hours we spent there on this trip.