The ship arrived in Barcelona and we disembarked as soon as the Spanish immigration authorities released our passports. Ann, Cathy, Ellie and I left for the airport to catch our flight to Casablanca. We arrived in Casablanca midafternoon and drove to the largest mosque in Morocco, the Hassan II Mosque. To give you an idea of the size of the mosque, the Plaza around the mosque holds 125 thousand people? We did a short tour of Casablanca along the beach area of Corniche of Ain Diab before our 3 hour road journey to Marrakech. Surprising to me on the drive was the large number of farms, I expected desert like conditions but the area was quite lush and very flat, similar to a scene from Kansas...as we got closer to Marrakech the landscape changed to much dryer conditions. Our tour operator changed our hotel due an overbooking issue...for us this was a good thing as we are staying at the Riad Sapphire, 4.7 star accommodations (a traditional home or Palace with an interior courtyard) in the heart of Medina or old town. After checking in, Ann and I did a nighttime tour of the Medina...this old town area is an unbelievable maze of alleyways exactly what I was looking for... admittedly, we did take a few wrong turns but were able to make it back to our Riad unscathed. Great start to the Moroccan adventure. This blog is in two parts, this is part one.