Our final stop on our tour of Morocco was Rabat, the capital city. Now, lots of tourists miss Rabat out in favour of Casablanca or Tangiers but to us Rabat looked more interesting. We planned a day or two into our itinerary but didn’t book anything. When we looked at accommodation in Rabat we were a little shocked at the prices and actually considered missing Rabat out completely. Rabat is the capital of administration of Morocco and consequently has lots of expensive business hotels and unfortunately no budget options. Because of this we opted to post a public trip on couchsurfing amnd luckily we got two offers. Accommodation sorted, Rabat was back in our itinerary.
We got the train from Meknes to Rabat which was a nice scenic 2.5 hour journey. We arrived into Rabat Agdal train station and had a nervous 10 minutes waiting for our host to appear. Luckily, Imad did appear and then we spent an hour traversing the city to reach Temara. Temara is almost a city in its own right, but is really an expensive suburb of Rabat with lots of shops and beaches. After a quick break and some tea at Imad’s home, we set out for Rabat. Travelling around Rabat is a logistical nightmare thanks to the roadworks, congestion and reliance on taxis. We walked to the right place to get a grande taxi and then we piled into an ancient Mercedes with 3 other passengers and the driver. Fitting 7 people into an estate car is not something we will be repeating in a hurry, but when in Rome…
Rabat is a big city with an old medina, a french colonial district and the new town. We were happy to have Imad as a tour guide and not need to use our favourite app Map.me to find our way around. We walked from the taxi rank, through the medina and to Oudayas an old fort perched upon a large rock. Here we watched a multitude of kittens and cats playing and sleeping in the gardens. Then we walked up to the top of the old fishing town to see the view of Rabat plage. Yep Rabat has it’s own sandy beach on the Atlantic coast, with surf schools galore. Like the rest of Rabat this area has a really relaxed atmosphere and lots of swimmers and sunbathers.
The next stop on our tour was the Mausoleum of King Mohammed the fifth and the Tower of Hassan the second , which is situated above the Marina and surrounded by ancient Roman columns and beautiful gardens. The mausoleum itself is a very grand building decorated with ornate wood carving and fabulous mosaics. It is guarded by 8 guards from two different types of police, who are quite happy to have their photos taken. They definitely don’t stay as still as the Beefeaters. Later we retired to a cafe to rest and recaffeinate with some of our hosts friends. The people of Morocco are very friendly and interested in meeting new people from different cultures. We enjoyed chatting and drinking coffee, but it felt somewhat strange sitting in a bar without alcohol and lots of young people smoking and drinking coffee. Soon it was time to head home for a fabulous homemade chicken tagine and discuss plans for the next day.
Our second day in Rabat was a little more relaxed. We picked up some harsha (semolina bread) with chocolate spread and went to a café for breakfast. Then it was off to the beach! We had seven to choose from, so Imad took us to his favourite one. A beautiful sandy bay surrounded by luxurious houses. It was a great place to relax, sunbathe, and swim in the refreshing sea water. Imad had to usher us from the beach to visit one of his after school clubs as part of the scouts. The children were learning traditional folk dances from different parts of Morocco, and as usual the young boys weren’t keen to dance, and they definitely didn’t want to link arms with a girl. After watching how it was done we joined in with the large group dance, which was great fun, although I doubt we will win any competitions.
Our final evening was spent wandering the streets of Rabat and Rabat marina. We were all pretty tired from the walking and swimming so we returned to our hosts for a delicious dinner of kefta tagine. In the morning we would be getting up early to catch a train back to Marrakech so we got a fairly early night. We are both glad we spent some time in Rabat and enjoyed couchsurfing and meeting locals.