Travel Journal

Come with me to the Casbah

(Thursday 7 October 2010) by Mike and Julie's sort of round the world trip
Day 43 – 9/16/10 Tanger

Okay, maybe this portion of the trip was not researched enough by me… Tarifa has the fast ferries to Tanger taking only about 40 minutes and departing hourly. Most people take the slower ferries from Algiceras but that town is rather unsavory and I heard it is best to avoid. My usual source for first hand travel information is the Thorn Tree at LonelyPlanet.com and a February post of this year said you could leave your car for free at the ferry and someone had done that no problem. When we pulled up to the ferry terminal I found that it’s 10 euros per day and since we were planning to be gone 8 or 9 days, that would end up being a rather hefty sum. The alternative would be street parking a ways off and hope the car would be broken into sporting French license plates, stolen, or towed because I parked in the wrong place or because it was thought to be abandoned. I found a spot about a klick away and hurried down to where Julie was waiting at the terminal. We had lightened our load by leaving non-essential stuff in the car including the laptop as I didn’t want to drag that throughout Morocco.
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We caught the 8 AM ferry which got us into Tanger at 7 AM (two hour time difference) and a tout attached himself to us guiding us to our hotel totally disregarding the infamous Mike Scowl. I didn’t mind as I wasn’t going to buy whatever he was going to sell and we already had reservations at the hotel so there could be no commission for delivering us there. We politely declined his touring offers, left our bags at the front desk and we were off to explore Africa! Or rather Tanger.
We stopped at the American Legion which is the only US historical site outside of the US. Morocco was the first country to recognize the US as a country so there is definitely a strong tie there. The building also has a rather hilarious letter from a diplomat explaining why he had to accept two lions from the king despite having strict orders from the US to decline any gifts. Hilarious reading and I highly suggest you find a copy of the text on the internet as the picture I took is too small to read the text.
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The Berber market which happens two days a week was rather uninspired. Just some women sitting against a wall trying to sell some goods. We stopped at a bakery and Julie got about 6 bite size pastries like baklava which we shared. We also stopped at Caid’s Bar which was the actual model used for Rick’s Caf� in Casablanca and Julie and I had a beer to celebrate David’s favorite movie. The beers cost 120 DH (about 15 USD) in this upscale joint. I learned to ask prices in the future. This gave no end to Julie’s amusement as she would often note that 3 hour trains rides cost less than two beers, food for an entire day was about the cost of a beer, etc.
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We also tried to find a restaurant the hotel suggested for good local food, but after walking three kilometers found the place closed for remodeling. We settled for Middle Eastern food again and then checked in at the hotel. We dropped in at the tourist information center to check on the Imichel festival since the guide book said all the tourist information should have the schedule but they didn’t and instead gave me a phone number for a tourist office in the region.
I noticed the Casbah section printed on the map, and thinking this was the famous “come with me to the Casbah” decided to walk through it. I have since discovered that every city has a Casbah section and I don’t know which that quote refers to. We walked a bit and stepping through a breach in the medina wall, got a good view of the harbor.
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We ran into a kid who latched onto us and gave us a tour in broken English. Some shop visits later and we got the usual hit up for money at the end but I only gave him 20 DH despite his pleas for more. The hotel is recently new and converted from a residents so some of the rooms are really only one room with bathrooms added on to one end but the view and atmosphere are really good.
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The next morning we had a great breakfast of local food, bread and jams, yougart, tea, olives and juice before we caught a taxi (first one this trip) to the train station.

 


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