About Believing Everything You Hear...

Friday, May 02, 2014 Road Junkies 0 Comments

Around the World, Day 11:  Lisbon to Casablanca

Back in the mid-1980s we encountered a Czech immigration agent in Vienna who insisted we could not go down the Danube by boat to Budapest without stopping and spending a minimum amount of money in Bratislava when we passed through.  "This cannot be done!  This is not possible!" he sputtered authoritatively, as he waved a finger in our faces.  Well, he was wrong.  It could, it was, and we did.

Another case of much ado about nothing.  Yes, you can carry limited liquids on Royal Air Maroc flights, just as on other airlines.  When we went to the airport in Lisbon today and checked in, the RAM ticket agent did not even ask whether we had liquids in our bags.  He just tagged them as approved carry-on bags and handed us our boarding passes.

Take that, Mr. Rude Telephone Agent!
All our concerns were for nothing regarding Royal Air Maroc.  Yes, the aircraft was a bit long in the flaps, and departure dragged into a 30-minute delay.  But when the bus delivered us to the far reaches of the airport, beyond the maintenance hangars, where the plane was parked, we boarded our flight and off we went.  Not even expecting beverage service after some of the dismal reviews we read last night, we were stunned when a hot meal was also served on this 80-minute flight. The economy cabin was only about half full, while the dozen seats in first class remained conspicuously empty.

No man's land
Ever following protocol, the cabin crew still made sure to close the curtains between economy and first class and keep them closed until we began our descent into Casablanca.  Perhaps for their own privacy, we first thought, but they were too busy serving to enjoy any respite in their own cabin.

At passport control, we discovered that I had committed a faux pas in completing both our landing cards in pencil (a practice I've always followed), but the immigration agent was extraordinarily kind, and patiently waited as we rewrote the forms, even as those waiting in line behind us bristled at the delay.  The driver our hotel arranged was waiting as promised, transporting us to the hotel efficiently.  Near the airport, we saw numerous hitchhikers along the highway, from young men to elderly women.  Once we neared the city, it wasn't unusual for women, carrying young or disabled children, to approach vehicles stopped at a traffic light and ask for alms.

It was approaching 5 p.m. by the time we checked in, so we decided to explore the old medina nearby and all the many wares for sale there.  Merchants seemed to be grouped by their wares with winding alleys of jewelry dealers, other lanes of clothing merchants, and large squares of booths selling dishes and pottery.

No shortage of merchandise
The old medina of Casablanca apparently attracts fewer tourists than similar parts of Fes and Marrakech, a fact which hit home when we suddenly noticed we were the only tourists we had seen.  After an hour of medina wandering, we were ready for dinner, a delicious meal at one of the hotel restaurants serving Moroccan and Lebanese food.

A bit after dinner, Ken's slight eye discharge, which we thought was just another symptom of his cold, became much more pronounced, as his eyes oozed yellowish goo.  A consultation with our eye doctor at home confirmed our inclination to try to find an ophthalmologist to check his eyes tomorrow.  The doctor thinks it's probably related to the cold, but advised having it examined to be sure.  So we'll stay in Casablanca a couple more days before moving on to Marrakesh.

More Photos from Today

Lisbon's Airport shops were not your usual airport offerings. 
The delay really did turn out to be only about half an hour.
We almost needed to catch a flight to get to our plane.
Neat old door in the medina
Applying a henna temporary tattoo
Still more things to sell