We were at the “Moroccan tea-house” on Friday and randomly decided to visit Morocco for a quick day-trip in Tangiers! As soon as we got back that evening, we booked a trip on the ferry from Tarifa. Setting off in the morning, the drive to Tarifa took around an hour and 30 minutes and we were soon on our way to Tangiers. The ferry ride took just over 30 minutes, giving us enough time to freshen up and get breakfast.
Arriving at Tangiers:
The passport control in Morocco was a pain.. and I found that the personnel were not trained to ask the right questions! “Where is your father from?”, to which I answered “UK” and they just sat there nodding their heads “you don’t look English”. It would have been better to ask what my ethnicity was. This happened to me twice – entering and leaving Morocco!
We had to get our passports stamped on the ferry and then checked again just outside the ferry before we were allowed to go any further, which is why there was crowding just off the ferry. Once beyond the crowd and passport control, the first thing I noticed was the language – signs were in Arabic and French. I was expecting to dig out and recall some of the French I had learnt at school, however, we came across many Spanish speaking people in Tangiers. This made it easier. I spent years studying GCSE French at school, so I was hoping it would come back to me quickly, however I’ve not spoken or read French in a while, so it was difficult to communicate in French. Even though I have never studied Spanish, and I had never spoken any before coming to Spain, it came much more easily than my French, as it was current and I have been speaking some whilst I’ve been here.
As we were walking out of the port, towards the city we were greeted by many taxi drivers that even chased and followed us down a few metres, asking us if we needed a lift. I noticed they called out “car” in a few languages in an attempt to get our attention. We also came across many asking us if we needed a tour guide. I politely declined and kept walking, as we had a handy guidebook and preferred exploring the city on our own anyway. We were intending to check out the old city, which is known as the “Medina”, so we exchanged our Euros to Dirhams and then walked as directed. We came across many bazaars and saw live chicken being sold in the market!
Moroccan dress sense – Tangiers has a mixture of western and middle-eastern dress:
Flags of Morocco – going into the new part of the city, near the French embassy:
We inadvertently walked around the Medina and into the new part of the city. We went past the French embassy and explored a pet market on the way out. Apart from the many stray cats, there were chameleons, lizards, tortoises, little coloured chicks, dogs.. a wide diversity of pets! We came across some souvenir shops and passed some bakeries show-casing fresh biscuits, pastries and bread. Finally we made our way back to the Medina to shop in the busy narrow streets filled with bazaars that sold rugs, perfumes, clothes, souvenirs and many other items. Haggling was something we had to do, as prices were highly marked up for tourists. As soon as eye contact was made, the shop-keepers would do their best to invite you in and sell you their items… and even chase you half-way down the street if they had to!
Shop with all kinds of trinkets:
Narrow streets in the Medina lined with Bazars:
After lunch, we strolled over to the beach. It was incredibly windy with a strong sea-breeze creating streams of sand a few centimetres above the ground.
We still had a lot of the Medina to explore and wanted to also find our way to the museum, which is at the highest point of the Medina. It’s very easy to get lost in the old city with the maze of narrow and crowded streets. So, we made our way back and eventually located the museum and kasbah, however it was too late – they close early on the weekend! It was a shame, but a friendly local showed us around.
An old mosque at the center of the Medina:
The day went by fast and soon it was time to board the ferry again. Although not the cleanest city (lots of litter everywhere!) I’ve been to, I found Tangiers to be a vibrant city with lots of interesting bazaars and the Medina fun to explore. It’s only 35 minutes away by ferry from Tarifa and it’s a world apart, which hits you immediately as you enter Morocco – the culture, dress, language, even the air smells different! I was quite tired by the end of the day, we had done a lot of walking and exploring, so it was nice to finally get off my feet and relax on the ferry.