Friday, October 28, 2011

DAY 9; MOROCCO TRIP WITH PRINCESS DR BECKY LEOGARDO AND MICHAEL MANTZ

KEE@FSWMAG.COM

MARRAKESH TO CASA BLANCA

We breakfasted at the light, airy and spacious restaurant of Ryad Mogador overlooking the pool and garden. I commented to Princess Dr Becky Leogardo the hotel was very generous and easy with its internet access as every room used the same code 111menara which allowed access instantly with no fuss.

Princess Becky then decided to use Facetime on her Iphone which allowed the users to see each other live. For the ignorant, Facetime allows the caller to see the face of the person he or she is calling and the immediate environment. Not only can the caller and called see each other face to face in real time, the service is free for registered numbers. Once you have WiFi, you can use this facility from anywhere in the world. I don't have Facetime as Dedione my adopted French son is incapable of answering the phone.

Previously Princess Becky had simply phoned her home and spoke to her kids and staff but show she could see them live! The connection worked and when she saw Gloria, she screamed from delight. Other hotel guests turned to stare but she was oblivious to all but her kids.
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Princess Dr Becky Leogardo waiting to be connected to Facetime in Ryad Mogardo's restaurant at breakfast
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Facetime is connected! Look at how Princess Becky's eyes sparkled as Gloria appeared on the screen of her IPhone!
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Gloria Mantz blew a kiss to her parents who blew back many kisses!
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Daniel and Gloria Mantz danced to their parents' joy
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They were so worried when Gloria and Daniel fell ill and now so relived to see both were now well and bouncing with health on the way to complete recovery from flu
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Michael Mantz went to get mint tea to soothe his nerves after such excitement!

BELOW ARE IMAGES OF THE SCENERY ON THE HIGHWAY FROM MARRAKESH TO CASA BLANCA IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER
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BELOW ARE IMAGES OF THE PROMENADE AT LA CORNICHE, THE SEASIDE RETREAT FOR LOCAL CASA BLANCANS. ALMOST ALL THE PEOPLE STROLLING ALONG THE PROMENADE WERE LOCALS AS THIS AREA WAS NOT GEARED FOR EUROPEAN TOURISTS. THERE WERE NO 5-STAR HOTELS NOR SOUVENIR STALLS SELLING BAGS, T-SHIRTS, SHOES, ARGAN OIL AND IMITATION GOODS. LA CORNICHE WAS VERY AUTHENTIC AS IT CATERED ONLY TO THE LOCAL PEOPLE.
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The view of the main street from my bedroom window of Hotel de la Corniche
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This avenue led straight to the beach and promenade as our hotel was very centrally located
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This was the only other 4-star hotel across the street from our hotel
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Michael Mantz enjoying his icecream in a small park
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A well maintained park near our hotel
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I thought he was a Chinese character but he must be Aladdin or Ali Baba!
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This building looked like a cruise ship
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I loved the stately, tall and elegant palm trees!
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La Corniche in Casa Blanca is not Agadir and locals dressed more conservatively.
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In the background are the Lighthouse and minaret of Hassan II Mosque
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These matured palms are stunning and I hope they are replanting new ones to replace these ancient majestic ones!
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Despite the name, La Corniche is nowhere near the South Pacific so why the owner named his gym after Tahiti is beyond me
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Shouldn't this exclusive beach club be named La Corniche Beach Club instead?
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Wonder why their own name was not good enough and the owner had to steal a foreign island's name to add more class and prestige?
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La Corniche Beach Club sounds far more prestigious and high class!
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Another sad case of lost identity; Morocco is nowhere near Hawaii either and has no historical links with that island
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Morocco is not tropical at all
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There was no surfing as this was a kids playgroundL1030033_edited.JPG
Rich kids and parents play here in safety and comfort
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Balloons added a brilliant flash of colour
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This private club offers all weather swimming
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Local family out for a stroll
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The colours were intense and gorgeous
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The colours of my clothes were intense and I looked gorgeous too!
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The promenade at La Corniche is a must when you visit Casa Blanca as it is so pleasant to stroll aimlessly and discover new things on your own
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The locals could not believe what they were seeing and stared at me nonstop but I liked being looked at!
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This is life on the sunny side of the street!
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Michael Mantz enjoyed the stroll too
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Business was terrible for this rickshaw driver as everyone preferred to walk, bask in the mild sunshine, enjoy the soft breezes and take their own time doing so!
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The two mosques but the minaret at right is from Hassan II Mosque, the tallest in the world
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The Old Lighthouse of Casa Blanca
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The magnificent Hassan II Mosque
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Hassan II Mosque fringed by fronds
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The magnificent Hassan II Mosque is the world's greatest modern mosque and a wonder of the world
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Just to visit and spend a few hours in this mosque is worth the 17-hour trip from KL to Casa Blanca!
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These buildings are part of Hassan II Mosque
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This is the Mosque Gallery for exhibitions
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This is Osama, yes it is his real name and he is a waiter at Thank God It's Friday restaurant where we had dinner on our last night in Casa Blanca
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Osama wants to be a model and I told him his name will get him everywhere as agency bookers will notice his name, especially when he proves with his passport Osama is his real name!
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Meanwhile, while waiting for his braces to be removed next year, he has been working on his body! Just look at his arms!


One by one, the children came to the phone to see their mother and be seen. Little Gloria, only recently hospitalised for 2 nights and 3 days, looked the picture of health and was smiling and dancing for her mother. Michael Mantz stood behind her and was blowing kisses to Gloria. Daniel, noe nearly 5 years, showed his bandaged arm as he was still undergoing 2 injections per day and had to use the drip. Little Raphael was the only one unaffected and as such was quarantined in a separate bedroom so Bertha the maid took the phone to Raphael who jumped with delight to see his parents and tried to escape from his room to join his two siblings---the darling!

I must say Raphael looks cuter than ever while Gloria was now back to her usual bubbly self. She even blew me, her godfather, a kiss and did 'Beautiful Eyes' for me. This is a family trick whereby I ask Gloria to do 'Beautiful Eyes' and she would smile, show her teeth, blink and wink her eyes, clap her hands and nod her head! She has such smiling eyes which sparkle when she smiles. She is destined to be Miss Universe or Miss World after winning the Miss Netherlands and Miss Philippines title. I will be her manager and make tons of money using her!

After squealing, giggling and laughing with her children, Princess Becky put the phone down in great relief, knowing her kids are fine and dandy while Michael Mantz went to get several cups of mint tea to calm his nerves.

We checked out of Ryad Mogador hotel and drove to the highway to Casa Blanca. Normally highways are dreary and dull with monotonous landscapes but this was different! There were plenty of interesting and impressive scenery that changed often, though we were now on the land looking at the Atlas mountains instead of being on the mountain slopes. Previously we had a bird's eye view and saw valleys below. Now we were staring at mountains and their rugged terrain from terra firma which provided a different perspective. Both views were great as each was totally different from the other.

The semi-arid landscape was not lush nor forested as the trees and argan and olive plants we saw were planted by farmers. We saw three mountains that reminded me of the three Pyramids at Giza, Egypt. Another mountain was so flat at the top and stretched like a plateau it resembled South Africa's Table Mountain at Cape Town. A huge solitary boulder jutting from the ground was reminiscent of Ayers Rock in the outback of Australia!

There was hardly any traffic so the drive was smooth, relaxing and hassle-free. It was very enjoyable as Princess Becky was not tense since the highway was so devoid of vehicles Michael did not have to concentrate so hard although he was a careful driver as he had a virgin (me) in the car.




We decided not to stay at Royal Mansour Le Meridien in the city centre but at La Corniche the seaside suburb of Casa Blanca. La Corniche is part of Casa Blanca and only 20 minutes from the city centre. We wanted a hotel near to the beach but this was no Agadir.

The best hotels with 5 star rating are all in the city centre as La Corniche is not geared for wealthy European tourists but is a quick retreat for local Casa Blancans! There were barely 4 hotels and only 2 seemed able and willing to accept foreign tourists! I asked one and the receptionist could barely speak English while another hotel's reception counter was empty! I had to wait and was walking out due to the musty smell when someone grumpily asked what I wanted.

So we hurriedly checked into the 4-star Hotel de la Corniche which proved to be very pleasant. My room overlooked the main road leading to the beach so after we checked into our rooms, Micheal and I went for an exploratory stroll along the main promenade. There were several clubs, members pools, restaurants, fitness centres and children's playground on the beach. Many had names that had no relevance to La Corniche, Casa Blanca or Morocco at all.

Well, with names like Tahiti and Tropicana and the like, we might as well have gone to Tahiti. I really think it is scandalous and sad such beautiful places with its own rich culture and heritage should sink so low and ignore its own identity by stealing and using a famous name linked only to one place, be it Kensington in London, Moulin Rouge of Paris or Copacabana of Rio de Janeiro. If you notice, advanced and self-confident nations in Europe or America never name their skyscrapers, condos, roads, hotels or important places after anyone or anything from a foreign land. We now have a Kensington in Orchard Road but you will never find anything called 'Orchard Road' in London. The beaches of Spain, France, Greece or Canary islands all have local names linked to local culture.

Fancy strolling along La Corniche promenade only to have names like Tahiti Beach Club, Moana Grill or Surfland greeting you. Still, the walk was truly wonderful as I felt like I was really in Morocco as the beaches, souks and boulevards of Agadir were filled mostly with Europeans. Here the locals dominate and the beach had no ritzy 5-star hotels lining the shoreline.

The weather was much more pleasant than our humid climate so walking was easy, relaxing and sweat-free! No wet armpits! A light breeze only added to the overall charm and pleasure. At 5.30pm Michael Mantz and I drove to Budget Cars to return our trusty Renault Megane which had given us so much joy for 8 days and nights!

We passed Hassan II Mosque which continued to astound and amaze me. We had dinner at Thank God It's Friday and met a handsome waiter called Osama. He wants to be a model and I think his name will take him everywhere. He swore Osama was his real name which was not surprising as there must be thousands of Osamas in the Muslim world just as there are heaps of Charles, William or James in the Christian world.

THE END