before you go … CASABLANCA

Casablanca is a great movie, but not such a great city. Big, industrial and crowded, Casablanca doesn’t even bother with the pretense that it is interested in tourism. Try to find another cruise ship destination that doesn’t even has a cruise terminal welcoming vacationers.

Not that tourism seems to matter. This place is busy. Building is underway everywhere, including a new tram that, locals believe, is being completely ripped off by contractors. Maybe. But it certainly has fallen way behind schedule and economically it is way over budget.

Rick’s Americain Café, made famous in the 1942 motion picture, is here – but then again it isn’t. The Rick’s in Casablanca never existed except on the back lot of Warner Brothers Studios in Burbank, California, but let’s not be deterred: An enterprising merchant has opened a restaurant and named it “Rick’s” and while even the exterior doesn’t include the fictional Warner Brother’s version, it’s here for tourists who wish to go.

History was made here during World War II when Churchill, Roosevelt and others plotted early war strategy against Hitler here, and the building where they me is easy to find, adjacent to one of Morocco’s King’s many palaces.

There’s also the third largest mosque in the world here, Hassam II, and it is well worth a look, not the least of reasons being to see what $8-billion buys you these days. The Mosque is unique allowing worshippers to pray overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. It has the highest minaret in the world. It is awe-inspiring no matter what your religious beliefs.

And don’t miss: The Olive market; the building and site where Churchill and Roosevelt plotted World War II strategy; the French architecture especially in the Habous district; venture into Casablanca’s mysterious Kasbah and go ahead and give that local peppermint tea a try (if you aren’t diabetic before you down this stuff, you might be afterwards).

Finally, if you must, venture into Rick’s Café, but don’t go asking for any “letters of transit” or start humming “As Times Goes By”. That’s what got everybody in so much trouble in the movie Casablanca, remember?

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