Friday, September 18th.
No problem arriving at the Puerta for the ferry to Algiers, Morocco. It was a bit of a zoo after that. One of those hurry up and wait situations. Once the doors were open we had to wait in line for ticket taking then people flocked to the baggage X-ray machines, like the ones in the airports. I politely put my bag on to the belt after the person before me and someone actually reached over me to put his bag on top of mine. I loudly said, “Excuse me” and he looked at me as if I had just appeared out of thin air ”Oh sorry” he offered and plunked it down between Bill and I.
Once we cleared inspection we had to walk down the dock and stand in line again, waiting to board the ferry. We entered at the car deck level and they were loading cars, with no barriers between us and people at the same time. Across the car deck then up a single flight of stairs to the interior of the ferry then up another to the seating lounge to find our seats.
We managed to find seats at the window facing in the right direction.
While I held our seats Bill went as instructed by our guide to have our passports stamped. This meant there would be no lines when we arrived in Tangiers.
The trip through the Straits of Gibraltar was uneventful. Morocco stayed hidden for some time due to a marine layer but after 45 minutes it came into view. Tangiers is situated in a large natural sheltered harbour with a wide sandy beach and the port at the western end. We had a really great view of the city as we approached the harbour.
Without much fuss we found our guide who walked us through the port to our waiting bus. Our guide was in our age bracket and although born in Morocco, educated in Europe; he was fluent in 4 languages. It was most impressive the way he floated from language to language.
He pointed out all the different mosques around the city as we wound our way up the coast side of this very white city. There were beautiful tree lined streets with huge walled mansions behind them. The King’s home was on the ocean side of the street identified by the guards posted outside of the walls.
The Saudi King also had a “home” along this stretch of the road. We stopped along the road where a number of camels with young were saddled and ready to ride. It was a E 2 for this brief ride but half the ride was sitting on the back of the camel while it rose and then sat down again after the ride. That was quite an adventure in itself.
Our driver whipped us out around the city to Cape Spartel where the views of the Atlantic were spectacular as well as a very unusual lighthouse.
Next we drove on the fringe of the White Medina which is a sequence of narrow alleys and small squares.
Back in the city we walked up a narrow street to stand on the Phoenician Necropolis. Apparently no one seems to know a lot about the site except that it was used for burial.
From the pictures you can see that it just consists of coffin size rectangles carved into the stone with a great view of the harbour.
I didn’t realize it but our walking tour had begun.
We followed our guide down and around a few narrow streets to one of the entrance to the Kasbah, the spirit of the city. Now the streets became really narrow, and it was difficult to keep our guide in sight. There were about 10 of us on the tour and we sort of kept track of each other. There was some wandering in and out of shops with husbands keeping watch outside. They were selling a variety of things from robes to pottery to jewelry to rugs and purses etc. Before long we had a retinue of street vendors following us not accepting no as an option. We passed
We were able to enter the Musee Dar El Makhzen or the Sultan’s Palace. The inner courtyard with its tile work, arches, and wooden lattice work was quite interesting. Unfortunately the museums exhibits were all explained in Arabic so none of it really interested us. The building and doors were quite beautiful just to stand and admire.
The Grand Mosque with its beautiful tile and wood work on its exterior we weren’t allowed to enter but we were able to admire the brightly patterned carpets that were on the floor from the doorway. No shoes of course walk on these carpets.
Winding our way through more narrow streets we came across fruit and market stalls and quite an assortment there was. Our guide led us to our Moroccan restaurant where it seemed we were the only patrons. A little band of drums and a violin with the musicians dressed in robes played for us as we ate. The first course was a delicious soup (contents unknown, not going to ask!) The second course was chicken leg and vegetables served on a bed of saffron infused couscous. It was quite delicious. Dessert was a pastry that looked like it was drenched with sugar but didn’t taste sweet at all.
The décor was quite Moroccan with its walls draped with rugs and little arches separating parts of the restaurant. It was quite colourful and charming.
Surprise, when we exited the restaurant our vendors were waiting to pressure us for a sale. Our guide next took us to a shop where he said it was safe to buy, (I am sure he received a cut of anything bought.) To me it looked like a big dusty room cluttered with stuff I didn’t need. There certainly was quite an assortment though. We were told to head upstairs, three floors, for an incredible view, we did and it was. The white medina was stretched out below us with the Minaret of a mosque poking up in the center. In fact we could see many mosques including the Mosque of Mohammed V, also the Cathedral’s steeple and St. Andrews steeple and the large Catholic school. Of course in the other direction was the beach, harbour and the Med. Sea.
As we descended to the 2nd floor, low and behold there was a man waiting to give us a talk on Moroccan carpets. It was a very informative talk but no one was buying.
When we exited this shop our street vendors were waiting, I just smiled and kept on walking, and as we exited the walls of the Kasbah they stayed behind.
Our driver was waiting to take everyone on our little tour back to the ferry and then us to our hotel.
The Hotel Salzur was right on the beach front road and our room lovely especially compared to a 22’ RV.
We even had American TV which we were thrilled about not having watched anything in 5 months. Watched we did even ordering room service so as not to interrupt.
BBC had good coverage of world events so we were able to “catch-up” on what was happening around the world.
We even had air conditioning and enjoyed a very quiet night.