These past few weeks have been full of classes and projects, leaving me with not so much time to explore the city further. This is my last week of classes before we head into ISP period where each of us work on our own independent study projects and research. Yesterday, I actually ended up getting lost in the city on my way to meet with my advisor for this project. It was a little troublesome, as I didn’t have any service or wifi to connect too, as I was lost in an incredibly residential area outside of the city. Google Maps failed me, and I don’t know if I will ever be able to travel without a hardcopy map of Amsterdam now… Kidding, my reliance on technology is too heavy to turn back now. But! I’m happy to say that I found my way back fairly easily, and I think that means that I’m getting better at navigating this wonderful city. While I was lost, I also found this lovely pink building. I also found the zoo and a pack of flamingos hanging out in a small pond. In the end, the scary moment turned pink.
And for those wondering, no I never got to my intended location. The meeting was rescheduled to a Skype interview… which is much easier to find my way to!
The third largest mosque in the world is in Casablanca, Morocco. We had the chance to visit this beautiful religious building and tour inside. It’s massive and absolutely the most awe-inspiring place I have ever stepped foot in. Including outdoor spaces, over 100,000 people can pray here at once, and the prayer room has a roof that opens up to the sky. There are multiple washing stations and hammams in the building for everyone to cleanse themselves before prayer. These photos don’t capture the sheer size and majesty of this place, honestly. I can’t put into words how amazing going to this mosque was… the only mosques larger are in Mecca and Medina. It’s a sight.
After Fes, we took the bus to Marrakech, a lovely city (albeit very tourist-driven) in the middle of the country. It was a wonderful city with a large medina and amazing shops. We even visited an organization that takes care of disabled Moroccan women and gives them jobs and an income. Their website is here for those interested; they embroider and sew gorgeous clothing. While in Marrakech, I got to take a few photos with some Berber monkeys! They were in Jemaa el-Fnaa, the famous square that also hosted a large group of fruit stands, some snake charmers, and at night there were even contortionists.
We toured the city and visited an herbalist, where we learned about argan oil and other natural remedies made specifically in Morocco. It was neat to see them talk about everything and let us sample it. We also visited Bahia Palace and the Saadian Tombs, which were both gorgeous. Some others in my group went to a hammam, but I spent the day lounging in the hotel instead, listening in on the gossip of some French high schoolers on a school trip. I also went for a walk and got a little lost. That’s how I found a neat sculpture garden not far from our hotel.
Marrakech is where I finally was able to go to a Starbucks for normal sized coffee! It was difficult not being able to drink coffee at all hours of the day in the other cities, but somehow…. I managed.
The last night there, a small group of us watched Casablanca in honor of our next stop.
The second city that we visited in Morocco was Fes (فاس). While it was definitely beautiful, Fes is probably my least favorite of the cities that we went to. There was a variety of things that unfortunately put it on the bottom of my list (getting sick, for example), but even with all of the negatives, Fes was still a wonderful experience! Being my least favorite thing in Morocco doesn’t really mean much, because it’s still one of the best places that I’ve ever gotten to experience.
An overly enthusiastic group of 25 US based college students arrived in Casablanca, Morocco this past Saturday night, immediately getting onto a bus that would take them to their home for the next week: Rabat. Morocco is a gorgeous country, and we spent the first week of it in their political capital learning about gender and sexuality within the Moroccan context (also, shopping.) I’ve had terrible wifi connection these past two weeks, and tonight marks my last in Africa. I spent the first week of this trip in Rabat, but this past week I was hopping place to place (Fes, Marrakesh, and Casablanca). Each city had so much history and beauty, I can’t possibly pack it all into one post.
Below the read more, I’ll be summarizing my favorite activities during my first Moroccan week in Rabat – with some pictures! (There will be more coming on Flickr and Facebook.)
This past Sunday, Jordan and I took a trip to the Rijksmuseum; a huge, gorgeous museum in the heart of Amsterdam that holds hundreds of art pieces from Rembrandt to modern artists. We didn’t make it through the entire museum, due to sheer size, though we thought we had. (This museum is so big that we didn’t even realize we missed an entire side of the building, because it felt like we had to have seen everything!) The Rijksmuseum is on Museumplein, a square in the city that also hosts the Van Gogh Museum, the Stedelijk Museum (modern art museum), and the famed I Amsterdam sculpture.
These are a couple of my favorite pieces that we saw, and unfortunately I completely forgot to save their titles and the names of the artists responsible. The girl in the photo is Jordan, for those curious. The ceiling is just one photo of the beautiful architecture inside and out of the Rijksmuseum. After visiting the museum we got lost, getting on the wrong tram and not realizing it for twenty minutes. That was really fun…. Not!
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