June 29, 2009:
Our hotel concierge told us, “You don’t see Morocco unless you visit a city outside of Tanger!” We took that as a challenge and visited the beautiful and quaint seaside town of Asilah, located about 1 hour southwest of Tanger by taxi. In the morning we walked over to the communal taxi station. At the station you tell the person in charge where you are going and they wait until there are enough of you to fill a taxi before departing for your destination. A full taxi is 6 passengers – that’s 2 in the front and 4 in the back, plus the driver, and this is just a regular size sedan that normally seats 5 people total! This is a little cramped, but a very good way to save money and gas! We waited for about 5 minutes with another man before the driver offered to take all 4 of us if we offered to pay for the fifth and sixth seats. We all agreed and instead of paying 10 Moroccan Dinars per/person we paid 15 per/person and we were on our way with 4 people instead of 6 and a lot more comfort :).
The taxi ride was smooth and the scenery was beautiful as most of the drive was along the coast with white sandy beaches! Once we arrived in Asilah it was another easy 5-7 minute walk to the Old Madina area. The old city has a striking resemblance to some of the cities we visited in Portugal and we weren’t too surprised to discover that Asilah is the sister city to Sintra, an amazing little city we visited in Portugal! Both of these places are highly recommended!
We walked through the Old Madina and took many photos of the scenic architecture of the old homes and shops painted in white with blue trims. I loved the color theme of the whole town- white, blue and, aqua!
Mariana and I couldn’t resist each getting a pair of handcrafted leather shoes at one of the many cobbler shops.
There is also a great viewpoint where you can see the ocean as well as the city wall.
Notice that I brought my jacket along, just in case it was cold in Africa ;D.
We had a wonderful time in Morocco, but not such a good time getting back into Spain. We wanted to have as much time as possible for our second day in Morocco, so we planned to take a return ferry that would arrive only an hour before our bus departed from Algeciras to Seville. We had left our suitcases at our hotel in Seville and re-booked the room for that night. But things didn’t work out quite as planned.
When we got to the ferry terminal there was a super long line to go through customs. We only had an hour til departure and we were already starting to worry that we might miss our ferry. Once we made it through the line and out to the ferry docks we found out that the ferry we were supposed to take was just about to pull in, and still had to unload all of its passengers. So despite it being departure time we sat and waited for about an hour before boarding. By the time we got on board the ferry we knew we wouldn’t make our bus in Algeciras, which was the last bus of the night, so we wouldn’t be making it to Seville that night. We tried calling our hotel to cancel our room, but couldn’t get through, so we left a message with the booking agency. We still had to pay full price for the room that we didn’t stay in that night, since we canceled less than 48 hours in advance. The ferry arrived in Algeciras almost two hours late! We tried going to the Acciona Trans Meditteranea ticket counter where we had purchased our tickets to complain, but it was already closed. There was a sign informing customers that there is a binder to log any complaints, but that didn’t do much good without anyone there to give us the binder. We have a feeling these ferries regularly run late and the companies running them don’t really care. It was just frustrating because when we bought the tickets the salesperson had ensured us that we would have plenty of time to catch our bus.
Luckily, we could see some hotels from the ferry port and were able to walk over and get a room without needing a taxi ride. Early the next morning we walked to the bus station and got on the earliest bus to Seville. Once in Seville, George and I picked up our luggage from the hotel, which didn’t care about the reason we missed our reservation, and Mariana was able to get on the bus to the airport and make her return flight to Lisbon. So in the end, it all worked out. We went to the Plaza de Armas bus station to buy bus tickets to Madrid for the soonest we could get and then found WiFi so we could book a hotel for that night, and by 1pm we were off to Madrid!