Casablanca is Morocco’s largest city, and chief port–a bustling metropolis that acts as a gateway to the country at large. We sent Tamy Emma Pepin (@tamyemmapepin) there to discover the colourful market scene, as we gear up for non-stop service from Montreal, June 3.
Start your journey with a visit to Habous. Removed from the busy city centre, the quarter and market is a perfect for local finds. Pepin says, “Habous showcases true Moroccan crafts, contrary to the Old Medina in the city center,” and a much better spot to taste the true local flavour. A charming, quaint souk tucked in a courtyard, you can peacefully wander through the streets and stalls.” Pepins must: do not miss the olive market and the carpet enclave! Pepin recommends looking out for a merchant named Mustafa: “He was so knowledgeable, incredibly passionate and saw Moroccan carpets as a representation of Moroccan culture.” The pace is decidedly reflective of this peaceful tradition. “I like how you take time in Morocco. You don’t just go in, and buy. You stop and chat, you negotiate, you talk about the world, you have tea, you make friends.”
Sitting on a promontory over the Atlantic is Hassan II mosque, named for the late Moroccan monarch. The largest mosque in Morocco, Hassan II is a sight to behold. Pepin says “It’s a stunning expression of Islamic architecture, and it is one of the very few mosques in Morocco that non-Muslims can visit with a guided tour (Tip: dress appropriately).”
If you’re feeling adventurous, head outside the Casablanca for a road trip not to be missed. Pepin says, “Morocco offers so much diversity–from the desert, to stunning ryads, the mountains, imperial cities, seaside towns and the friendliest Berber tribes you’ll ever meet. The souks in Marrakech and Fes are absolutely incredible!”
Small red taxis are your friend in Casablanca. They will take you anywhere in the city, but they do not go outside of the city. White taxis (usually located in taxi stands), will take you outside further afield. Pepin recommends having your desired location written down on a paper: “It’s a bit of a whirlwind as the taxi stops in the middle of the street, and traffic is–you have to be fast!”
Asked what she wished she had brought along for her journey, Pepin responded saying “The real question should have been ‘what could I have left at home to free up space in my luggage’? You’ll want as much room as possible for crafts, blankets, slippers, and design objects of all kinds!” Start packing!
Travellers take note! We had eyes on the ground in 4 more international locations, all launching this summer. Check out Prague (May 29), Budapest (June 10), Glasgow (June 13) and Warsaw (June 14) for more.