June 28, 2009:
We returned to Seville as a meeting point with Mariana for our mini excursion to Morocco. In Seville we stayed at the Hostal Dalis, which is centrally located in the old city center and very close to the bus station. The next morning we took the 7:30 AM bus with LineSur from the Prado de San Sebastian Bus station which takes you right to the ferry dock. We arrived at the Algeciras ferry dock about 5 minutes to 10:00 AM, but we were a little too late to catch the ferry which was departing at 10:00 AM. So we booked our ferry for 11:30 AM with Acciona Trans Meditteranea (we don’t recommend this company because it was extremely late on both our departure and return – more about this in the next post). The cost was about 70 Euros per person for a round trip ticket, which is about 15 Euros less than if you bought two one way tickets separately.
Once we were on board the ship we cleared Moroccan immigration. Yes, that’s right! We were able clear immigration right on the ship! Everyone got in one huge line and waited their turn. In fact, people were still in line 10 minutes before we arrived in Tanger. So you want to get in this line as soon as you get on board.
Even though we were assigned seats on our tickets, it didn’t seem as if anyone was following those rules and it was a free-for-all. There were some nice seats with tables at the front of the ship with the best view, but those had tables and we thought that you had to order something from the cafeteria in order to sit there. We soon found out that wasn’t the case as most people sitting there already knew they were the good seats. Actually, most of the people were families who had many little children and they were smart to bring their own food and drinks.
The ferry left about 45 minutes late. We thought people were still boarding, but that wasn’t the case as the ramp and doors were closed. Therefore, we arrived about 1 hour late in Tangier at 2:00 PM. Good thing that there is an hour time change (back) so it was only 1:00 PM. We took a taxi for 5 euros to our hotel (we could have paid less, but didn’t really think about it since we had just come from Spain where everything was expensive). We stayed at Tanjah Flandria, which is located in the city center, perfect location to walk to the Old Madina, restaurants and cafes. Our room was very nice, with one area with twin beds and a TV, where Mariana stayed, and a separate area with a queen bed and TV where we stayed.
After checking into the hotel we walked out towards the Old Madina and passed by a restaurant that smelled very yummy but we decided to keep walking to see if we could find other choices in the area. But after walking around for another 10 minutes we decided to follow our noses and head back to the first restaurant, Le Saveur Medeterranee – a seafood restaurant that only serves set meals. While the price at 150 DH is a lot in Morocco, it was still cheaper than a meal in Spain and it turned out to be the highlight of our visit to Tanger. We were served several courses that included a variety of breads, fish soup, olives, roasted almonds, our choice of fish, a separate seafood and spinach dish, and for desert, a dish of couscous with pine nuts and honey. We were very full at this point but then they brought us some delicious ripe figs and the largest and sweetest cantaloupe we had ever tasted! For drink, our glasses were constantly filled with their homemade fruit juice which was made from figs and probably grapes.
Just when we thought we were done the owner started up a conversation with Heidi and Mariana and asked them to come with him. They disappeared with him in the dark back room for a few minutes before returning with Heidi wearing a green traditional dress and Mariana carrying a basket full of wood carved kitchen utensils. By the time we were ready to leave the owner had given the girls additional gifts including a homemade remedy for beautiful skin!
For the most part Tangier appeared to be a safe city, but sometimes we would walk down these alleys and narrow streets where no other tourists were to be found and we would get a lot of stares from people. In particular, my camera got a lot of attention, so it might be wise to not show big cameras (dslrs) in public. Only take them out when it is safe to do so, as this was the only place through out our 7 month journey where we felt a little insecure.
Wow, if they are having an Expo here in 2012 they need to do a lot of work!!
Tangier is definitely geared towards tourism as there are endless shops selling all kinds of traditional items from musical instruments to wooden shoes.
Most of the sites in Tanger are within walking distance and that’s what we were doing when we saw these colored chicks. Yes, that’s right, only in Morocco do baby chicks come in every color! We ran into this young guy selling boxes of color dyed baby chicks! He was kind enough to let us play with them and take a few photos.