A Faded Wall Painting of the 1942 Actors in the Melliber Hotel’s, Casablanca Suite.
The title says it all. You may not be familiar with the names but search on Google. Humphrey Bogart, in the day, portrayed himself as a rough and tough American movie star. Ingrid Bergman was a three time Academy Award winning, Swedish/American actress. The story unfolds during 1942 and 43. World War II was ravaging Europe and North Africa. Casablanca, Morocco, was an escape route to freedom from the Nazis. If you’re a romantic or seek its allure, then read on. We all have a wish or bucket list. One of my goals was to go to Casablanca and sit beside the piano with a neat scotch, at Rick’s bar.
Now, I’m here, sitting at Rick’s Bar, My fantasy turned into feeling the wooden bar against my knees and feet hooked around the stool. In a dream, you can change your mind and direction instantly. In reality, you have the same privilege. To commemorate the occasion, I passed on the neat scotch to order Champagne. With flute in hand, I slowly turned around to meld my imagination with actuality. What a feeling! Is this how Neo felt in the Matrix movie when he took the Red Pill? I’ve awoken from my Casablanca movie odyssey into its setting. I can see Ingrid asking Sam, “Play it,” and my mind adds, “Again, Sam.” The place is much smaller now. The décor is similar with its upstairs balcony that overlooks the main floor. On the second floor, a lounge, with inviting leather chairs, has been set up, with a gambling table and a large flat wall screen that plays, the Casablanca movie, on an endless loop. Now was the time to switch to a neat scotch and enjoy the movie.
A 15 minute walk from Rick’s was the Melliber Apartment Hotel. This was the hotel where the movie stars stayed, during their filming. I strolled along Blvd. Sour Jdid and Ziraoui, passing the Grand Hassan II Mosque, back to the hotel. It is the largest Mosque in Africa, third largest in the world and has the second tallest minaret at 689 ft. (210 metres). The mosque’s hall can handle 25,000 people with another 80,000 on the grounds outside.
The Melliber Apartment Hotel was a Hapchance find. Spending a few days in Lisbon, I decided to book a flight to check off an item on my wish list – Casablanca. I didn’t want to stay at a global franchised Hotel and Googled for alternatives. It had to be close to the beach, have WiFi and near the Grand Mosque. Little did I know that the hotel had history and a connection to my Casablanca movie yearning to visit Rick’s Café. The hotel had gone through some extensive renovations and was recently re-opened for business. The General Manager, Laurent Delord, met me in the lobby. When I explained my quest for being at the hotel, he surprized me with providing a free upgrade in the very suite that Humphrey Bogart stayed. The view overlooking the Hassan II mosque from the window was divine. The entanglement of desire brought all the pieces together for a fantastic experience to a long sought quest.
A poignant moment in the movie was when Humphrey said to Ingrid, “Here’s looking at you, kid.” The finale to life’s romantic intrigues. I always say,
“Stay flourishing, my friend.”