Tangier, Morocco

We spent 2 nights at a Casa Rural just out of Tarifa.  The literal transalation for Casa Rural is Country House but it means a hotel or accommodation. We’ve stayed at a few and have always enjoyed them. Sometimes it’s up-market accommodation in a restored old building or farmhouse, this one was self-contained cabins at the back of the main farmhouse, with great views over the nearby mountains, the sea and our host’s amazing home orchard.

Tarifa is at exactly 36 degrees north, it’s the southernmost point of Spain and Continental Europe and it’s where the Mediterranean and Atlantic Seas meet. It’s one of the world’s most popular destinations for wind sports including windsurfing and kite surfing, also whale watching and just ‘going to the beach’, which goes for several miles around the bay. We did go to the town beach and it looked good with nice sand. Tarifa has the ferry terminal for ferries going to Tangier in Morocco, which was our main reason for staying there.

We did a day trip to Tangier yesterday. The novelty of visiting another country and being back home in time for dinner just never gets old for us, and this time we actually visited another continent! Caught the 9am ferry from Tarifa and arrived in Tangier at about 9am because even though the 2 places are just about on the same longitude, Spain keeps to the Western European timezone which is just geographically wrong. Current sunrise in Spain is close to 8:30am! Daylight saving finishes here at the end of this month.

So, the ferry ride was all good, not too rough, took about 35 minutes because we left a bit late because ….. Spain. Somehow Spanish time seems a lot more elastic than time everywhere else in the world. After some online research, we knew that we had to get our passports stamped by Moroccan immigration on the ferry. If it’s a full ferry, this can be a lengthy procedure and MUST be done prior to disembarking. So we made sure we were among the first to board and followed those in the know straight to the immigration desk on board. Got our passports stamped again – we’re running out of room in them! – and settled in for the ride. Got off in Tangier and set about finding our way out of the terminal. Greg had read online about how awful the taxi drivers and touts  can be at the Tangier ferry terminal, but compared with some of their Southern African counterparts, these guys weren’t even trying! We’re well practised in the art of saying ‘no’.

Tangier is a large city, with a large bustling new (ie, less than 100 years old) area and the old historic Medina (old walled city in Arabic). It’s the second-most important Moroccan city after Casablanca. Most people we interacted with spoke Berber, French and some English. We started off in the modern part with a visit to the supermarket for water, flatbreads and a few other things, then a walk along one of the main streets and then coffee, juice and a pastry at McDonalds, mainly because … clean toilets. Then we walked to the Medina which was absolutely alive with activity and people and stalls and traffic. I was interested to see greengrocers unpacking boxes of cherimoya custard apples which had come from Almuñécar, where we’d camped a few days ago, just after we left Granada. I now realise that a lot of the orchards we could see from our campsite were growing custard apples.

We wandered down streets and lanes which got progressively narrower, until we got to the market, where there were rows of stalls all selling similar items – a row of dried fruits and nuts; a row of olives and the most beautiful preserved lemons (note to self: learn how the Moroccans do it!); a row of bags of herbs and piles of colourful spices and then to the butchers and fishmongers. We found an old man selling pieces of hot potato omelete from a huge flat pan in a lane and he was doing a very brisk trade at about 10c/piece. A local shopkeeper was very keen to buy a piece for us, and we were even more keen for him not do to that and to just buy our own, knowing there would be an expectation that we visit his shop … and you can guess the rest of that scenario. So we bought our own pieces which were served on pieces of butcher’s paper. That didn’t stop the shopkeeper from trying very hard to get us into his shop but like I said, we’re good at saying ‘no’. We kept on walking higher to the Kazbah (citadel), then back down through lanes selling haberdashery, clothing and I’ve forgotten what else.

Lunch was at a restaurant back in the new part of town. Chicken pastilla and a milkshake for Greg, chicken tagine with mint tea for me, and we shared a chocolate & banana crepe for dessert. That chicken pastilla has set a new high in chicken pies for Greg and now he wants all future pies to be decoratively dusted with icing sugar and cinnamon! The food was delicious and all up it cost around AUD 22. We walked a bit more and found some shade under some eucalyptus trees in a park, then went to the beach, walked some more and got back to terminal to catch the almost-empty 6pm ferry.

It was a good day, we’re glad we did it and as Greg pointed out when we watched a car being driven onto the ferry ….  we have this crazy long-term plan of shipping the Landcruiser ute (which is currently sitting in our back yard) to Southern Africa and driving it to Northen Africa …. one day it might be us driving our car onto that ferry!

Leaving Tarifa on the Ferry
The pilot leaving the Ferry. The pilot was on board for a tricky maneuver that was only about 100m long
All safe with Australian life rafts on the ferry. The Tarifa Jet is a fast catamaran built by Incat in Tasmania
Arriving at Tangiers port – the Medina is to the right, the new part of town is to the left
Herb sellers in the Medina
in the narrow alleys in the Medina
So many olives in the Medina, and those lemons were all preserved!
Medina
Medina with meat sellers
Sharpening a knife with a pedal powered grinding wheel near the butchers in the Medina
narrow alley high in the Medina
working our way down the Medina
all sorts of shops in the Medina
Medina
Mint tea
Chicken pastilla with icing sugar!
Tangine with preserved lemons and olives hiding somewhere under all those chippies!
Resting in a park full of Eucalyptus trees
The beach at Tangiers
on the beach at Tangiers

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