Be careful at night
Be careful at night, in Casablanca... although it is not very dangerous, the city centre is not very safe either. There are several poor and homeless people that might be tempted to rob you if you go around flashing your wealth - there are also quite some drug and alcohol-related problems. The old medina is NOT safe at night
Whereas I found Casablanca safer than other western cities of the same size, I was happy not to be there on my own. I would really not recommend walking around by yourself if you are a woman traveling alone - taxis are cheap - use them
A parking guard or a rude cheat?
I had the only one unpleasant event in contacts with Morocan "parking guards" just in Casablanca.
I parked a car in front of my hotel in a short-time parking zone (from 8am to 6pm as I remember well). I was obliged to go to parking ticket vendor machine to buy a new ticket every 2 hours haha. In real my hotel staff did it.
I was very surprised when after night in the morning the older Arab man asked me to pay for the parking. I said I already paid using the parking ticket vendor machines. He got really ungry, tried to explain me that I didn't pay for night time and ordered me to pay because he had looked at my car all the night, hmm.. I didn't believe in it. When I wanted to drive away he standed in the middle of the street in front of my car not to allow me to drive away.
Hmm... fortunatelly there were other cars behind me, the drivers started to horn and a few ones got off the cars and told sth (rather not pleasant, I suppose) to my "parking guard", finally he cried sth (rather nothing pleasant) and... allowed me to drive away.
- Historical Travel
- Budget Travel
- Road Trip
Beware of robbers in dark desert areas!
We were visiting Casablanca at the end of February, which is not a touristic season. At night we (two girls and two our morroccan friends) went to Casablanca corniche (a touristic area with lots of hotels, restaurants, bars and discos overcrowded during the season but empty in winter) to take a walk and look at the ocean waves at night... As we walked we noticed some drug-addict-looking guy sitting and watching us, then we noticed him when we went down to the water, but still didnt pay much attention to him as we were sure we were safe because we were 4 and had 2 strong men with us....As we continued our way talking peacefully and enjoying ourselves, with 2 of us walking some 50 m ahead, I felt somebody pulling my bag. I turned trying to pull it back but my friend screamed to let it go, and I saw that the guy (it was him who was following us all the way) raised a hand with a knife to hit me...I let him go with my bag and he run away and disapeared in an dark empty field behind a fence...That was the first day of my vacation and I had all my money, credit card, passport, phone and ipod in that bag..Only then I realized how stupid it was to carry all that stuff with me! Luckily (thanks God) our friend turned out a brave and sporty guy, so he rushed after the robber and after a while appeared from the darkness carrying my bag in one hand and a heavy stone in another...He caught and hit the guy and he dropped my bag...So, I had all my valuables back and no need to tell how happy I was and thankful to my friend...
SO! For those who dont beleive it can happen to them: yes it can! So, why not follow these easy rules? Avoid dark empty places at night (as you see, even with two men at was dangerous) and don't carry your passport and all your money with you!
Petit Taxi Rip offs
The little red taxi is very convenient and cheap way to travel around town. Most of the taxi drivers are honest but there always will be few who will try and scam you using the meter. The meter has 2 different fares, day far or a night fare. The night fare is 150 % of they day fare and there are 2 ways to calculate it. The taxi driver can simply switch on the night fare button but apparently this option is not present in all meters so in the older meters you simply add 50% to the day fare if you are traveling at night.
It does sound little bit complicated but taxi drivers can scam you buy pushing the night fare during the day or the can push the night fare during the night and tag to it 50% so how do you now what button he pushed. It is simple, when you get into the cap watch what is the starting fare is; if it is 1.70 it is a day fare and if it is 2.70 it is a night fare. Be carful I know of Expats living in Casablanca and fall victims to this.
So when does the night start? I don’t remember because it is different from winter to summer but there is a peace of papper on front seat next to the driver and it states that clearly.
By the way the minimum you’ll pay for a petit taxi ride is 7 dh. Beware these price can change due to rise in oil prices. I’ll try an update this tip every time I have a chance. This tip was based on my trip in October 2007
Stealing your Cell phone
I don’t how common this is but I know it has happened for 3 of my friends in Al Maareef area of Casablanca over one year period so it is not uncommon. The story was very typical and almost identical. All 3 were using their cell phones in broad day little around 3 p.m. afternoon when a very well built muscular man come and suddenly twists my friends hand who naturally drops the phone, the attackers throw his victim to the ground and runs away with phone and jumps on an approaching motor bike, and before any body can do any thing the attacker disappeared.
All 3 men where more than 55 years old. One of them was a tourist, one was an Expat working in Casablanca and one was a Moroccan. The first 2 filed a police report and followed by a theft claim to the insurance company and were able to get a reimbursement. One of my friend injured his fingers but the other 2 suffered no injuries.
Honestly I started avoiding using my cell phone on the street. It is wise to get a travel insurance which I never have
Beggars and poverty
I saw a few beggars and people sleeping on the streets even in the center/downtown in the midday.
As soon as I step out of the impressive centre of town, dark clouds cover the realities of people here. Extreme poverty and prostitution only to be matched by Tangier was what I found without even looking for it. In my opinion no other place in the country displayed bigger differences between the haves and the have-nots.
I could see a local guy sleeping on a bench in beautiful (many palm trees) Boulevard Houphouet Boigny - just east of Ancienne (ancient) medina. Better be respectful for his sleep, do not awake him.
Go this avenue to one of the biggest in Africa port built approx. 100 years ago - rather ugly industrial area in my opinion.
Early in the morning fish was sold by auction there. In the evening you can enjoy fresh fish in the many restaurants doing business in this area.
- Hiking and Walking
- Budget Travel
MONEY. Dirhams and Rils
Money can be very confusing in Morocco. This confusion can be a source of rip offs and lead to gross overpayment so be aware.
Dirham is divided in to 100 centeem. Some times moroccan will qoute you the price in Centeems. to add more confusion they might give you the price in Rials. Rials are not offical and each Dirham is equal to 20 Rials.
So when you are given a price ask if this is in Rials or Dirhams to make sure that you are not over paying. To add even more consusion you have to know that in the north (Larraish, Tangier, Asila, Tetouan and ChefChaouen) the dirham is worth 2 rials (Not 20 like Casa or Fes)
Always ask about the price in Dirhams
I didn't see many covered faces in Casa, and many of the young women wear western dress. But there are still a few things you should take into consideration when traveling in Moroco. First of all - don't show too much flesh, (even for men it is impolite to walk around in shorts) and don't dress provocatively.
Second - keep eye contact with men to a minimum. Eye contact is often seen as an invitation. Men WILL stare at you, just don't stare back. If you make it clear, very early into the conversation, you don't have a personal interest in the man, but you are interested in his country, customs or language (avoid topics as religion and politics) you might get more respect. Still you should be aware that, like in any male-oriented society, women always play second fiddle.
If you have long hair wear it up, you do not have to cover it, but a scarf is always handy.
There are night clubs in Casablanca, but I wouldn't advice women to go there on their own. Most of them are pick up places and most of the women who frequent them are prostitutes.
If you get harassed in a public place, don't be afraid to show outrage or to involve passers-by
- Budget Travel
- Women's Travel
Driving in Casablanca, things to watch out for
Driving in Casablanca is straight forward ordeal once you get used to it. There are few things you got to watch out for esp. motor bikes. Most people operating motor bike don’t observe any kind of traffic laws and they don’t seem to be concerned with their safety. They won’t even stop for red traffic light.
The police is every where which is usually a good thing but you can be assured that you’ll be stopped and fined if you commit the smallest of traffic violation. Police are very good at hiding so there will be one standing some where waiting for you to make a mistake. an average police fine is 400 DH
Take stop sign very seriously. It is among the policemen favorite traps. Come to a complete stop when you see a stop sign look right look left and then proceed ahead. Do this every time you see a stop sign even if you are 100 percent sure that there is no traffic coming.
Radars are plentiful and well hidden. They are available on all major highways and inside large cities. Take the speed limits very literally. If the speed limit is 60 km/hr than the radar will catch you at 61 km/hr
Seat built is mandatory and you’ll be fined if you use your cell phone during driving.
Solo Female Travellers Beware
A friendly, helpful young chap who shared my Petit Taxi to Hotel Gallia (opposite Marche Centrale), was roped in by the taxi driver to double-confirm where I was going, and he also cautioned me to be careful of my belongings as he said this is "not a very good area". Of course it didn't help that it was already evening (dark), I was a girl travelling alone, and I stand out from the local population.
A lot of local men tried to "chat me up" in English, or just shouted "konnichiwa" (mistakenly thinking I was Japanese, since that's apparently the largest East Asian minority in Casablanca) or "hello" in my direction. I ignored all of them as I've heard that Moroccan men tend to think that solo female travellers are "easy".
Solo female travellers should have this in mind, as I've read a negative review about this aspect on a TripAdvisor review about Hotel Gallia.
- Women's Travel
Rip-Off Fares on Petit Taxis
A little tip which might be helpful for travellers trying to get a Petit Taxi to Hasssan II Mosque... in French the mosque is called "Mosquee Hassan Deux", with an accent on the 2nd last letter of "Mosquee". The approximate pronunciation, if you don't speak French, is "Moss-kay Hassan Duh".
Outside Casa Voyageurs train station, a Petit Taxi took me to Hassan II Mosque for 25 MAD -- but on the way back it was only 14 MAD. On the TripAdvisor forum I read that it should be about 15 MAD each way in daytime, but if you take a taxi near the train station it's usually about 25-30 MAD, they rip tourists off. So, I guess I was?
Try to walk further away from Casa Voyageurs train station in order to catch your Petit Taxi.
- Budget Travel
The coastal road to the Hassan II Mosque
We experienced this road to be quite dangerous and not only after dark... There are some young agressive Moroccon criminal losers harassing backpackers and other tourists who walk the pedestrian side of the busy traffic road that leads from the Mosque to the centre. Some guy threatened us with a knife and later we heared of more people who have been threatened here.
Be sure to drink only bottled water that has the seal unbroken. The water is likely to give you stomach upsets. Also beware of being given drinks with ice cubes. Orange juice is also likely to be watered down and of course anything like salads and raw vegetables will have been washed in water.
- Historical Travel
Beware of the traffic
There are no traffic lights for pedestrians at Casa, and you take a risk every time you cross the street. Drivers will not stop or slow down for you. Try to use zebra crossings as much as possible. If not - stick very close to the locals, or pray.
- Study Abroad
- Budget Travel
As the name describes, a waterman is a man who sells water which he carries in a potable container on his back. He wears the traditional Moroccan costume and a big hat. Naturally for me as a traveller, I find him so unique and interesting and wanted to capture him on my camera. But I forgot that snapping pictures in Morocco of people require their permission or a small tip (though I read about it, I forgot all about it when I was there...too excited, heh!). So this waterman got so mad that he kind of chased me all through the medina for the tip. (I wanted to pay him but was so overwhelmed by him chasing me that I kept walking faster and faster!!) He finally gave up his chase and mumbled something before walking off in anger, obviously... Phew!! That is definitely an experience I'll never forget!
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