With Oman Air all set to initiate direct service to Casablanca, plan a grand visit to this beautiful Moroccan destination, with a general list of dos and don’ts to follow.
Calling all itinerant folks; Oman Air will launch non-stop services from Muscat to Casablanca from July 1, making it obligatory to plan a visit to this colourful city, the hub of Morocco’s commercial and economic activities. Located in the central-western part of Morocco, Casa, as Casablanca is popularly called, is a striking conclave for travellers from all walks of life. As the largest city in Morocco and one of the biggest financial centres of the African continent, Casablanca is cosmopolitan in its outlook and distinctly traditional in its approach to everyday life, giving you the best of the new and the old world charms. But before you board the flight, check out the important dos and don’ts to follow to make it a memorable trip:
Do stay in a ‘riad’
Riads, which literally mean gardens, are carefully restored guesthouses that reflect Moroccan style of architecture, with the actual houses built around an interior garden or courtyard. They are traditional guesthouses that provide a peek into the customs and cultures of the place; opt to stay in one of these riads to experience Morocco from close quarters. Most riads are decorated with colourful mosaics and ornate woodwork and many even cater to tourists seeking luxurious accommodations; however many lack air conditioning. With summer set to begin in July, you might want to check out accommodations that have air-conditioning to ensure your trip is flawless. While hotels are, generally, equipped with air-conditioners, it is the hostels and riads that rely on fans to cool the inner space.
Do indulge in bargaining
What is shopping without some bargaining thrown in? Boring, right? The best part of shopping, especially when travelling, is haggling over the price. And while in Casa, you will be forgiven for bargaining even 50 percent less than the price first quoted. Even if you are a first-timer, other shoppers are bound to influence, even cajole you to bargain with the dealers in the souk. So go on, shop for beautiful carpets, jewellery, leather items and the like, and get your product at the price you feel is right.
Do not be rude
Bargaining is a way of life for most locals, whether they are selling products or services like taxi rides. Do not get offended by the constant haggling, as that is just how everyday business is conducted. Smile and remember that the price will, invariably, be reduced to suit both you and the merchandiser/service provider. If you want to have a good time, wear your friendly mien, as rudeness is not taken kindly.
Do visit a hammam
If you have done your homework before scheduling a visit to Casablanca, you would have heard about Morocco’s famous hammams and why they are classified as a national pastime. The massage, the steam and the refreshing bath is a must try while you are in Casa. Ask for recommendations to the best hammam in the place where you are staying, and go on, pamper your body with a traditional hammam.
Don’t wear clothes that are revealing
Morocco may be developing at a fast pace, but that hasn’t made it less traditional or more liberal in its acceptance of practices and customs that are seen as modern. It is a conservative country, which expects modesty in clothing. While that may be easy if you are travelling from Oman, which expects a certain modicum of decency in clothing, the focus should be on refraining doing touristy things with clothes that are over the top. Ensure that your legs and sleeves are covered, and carry a scarf if you plan to visit mosques.
Do try street food
Regular visitors to Casa will recommend you to eat a lot of tagine, which literally means clay cooking pot with a conical lid and couscous. It is fine wheat pasta, traditionally rolled by hand and steamed over a stew of meat and vegetables. Go ahead, but do not stop with tagine and couscous. Morocco is known for some popular dishes like Harira a traditional soup, Maakouda – Moroccan potato cakes or fritters, Zaalouk – Moroccan salad of cooked aubergine and tomatoes, and the legendary mint tea. But if you want to check out what makes the tagine and couscous so popular, try out the different varieties – chicken, lamb and fish.
Don’t be immune to scammers
Whether you are a frequent traveller and are aware of scammers who come in various disguises or not, as a first timer, you are rarely, if ever, immune to rip-offs – be it in Casablanca or any part of the world. So, pay attention to your personal belongings and your cash and avoid deserted roads at night. Being safe is always the best way to make your travel stress-free.
Starting 1st July, Oman Air flies four times a week, direct to Casablanca; for more information visit www.omanair.com