Sunday, 4 March 2007

MOROCCO - Tangier


Our first intrepid bit of travel (at least it seemed that way).
As part of a longer stay in southern Spain, we took the plunge to cross the Straits of Gibraltar from Tarifa to Tangier with FRS ferries. At £ 50 each or thereabouts, a 2 day trip could be had, including return ferry, hotel and three meals with a guided tour of Tangier.
The ferry crossing was very quick and as part of group of about dozen tourists were entered Tangier, only to have to board the ferry again, as our passports had not been stamped (only our ferry tickets). The tour guide was a local, who spoke five languages with good humour. A mini-bus tour followed with the obligatory camel photo stop. We disembarked into the kasbah to see what we had really come for; a maze of tiny streets and white washed buildings. You could not even get a moped down most of them. The few shops that were there literally had standing room only for the owner - customers stayed out on the street. Fish were being sold from the floor, laid out on newspaper and plastic. we were shown the mandatory snake charmer and then lunch in a small restaurant - a simple meal followed by strong sweet mint tea. After, the hard sell began. A visit to a carpet 'museum' although interesting, was 30 minutes of desperately hard sell. An American gave up just to get the sales man off his back. This little shop could export across the Atlantic and accepted all major credit cards! Next followed a spice shop, which was very interesting a less hard sell. We bought some saffron at very reasonable price (compared to the UK). After an afternoon drink stop, the other excursionists all boarded the ferry to return to Spain. we were the only ones staying.... We were shown to our hotel which was in the down-town area and actually very good. The food was quite simple but very nice.

The following morning, we took a stroll around the down-town area looking at the shops. It was amazing to see people selling individual cigarettes. We were soon jostled into a gift shop, but this suited us as we need a few gifts to take home. With two toy camels, an attractive blue and gold ash tray and a knocked-down price camel hair blanket, we were quite pleased.
Our guide collected us at lunch time and we were whisked back to the ferry port in the smallest Fiat you can imagine. All of the town taxis are painted an unlikely shade of turquoise. Back on the boat, we were glad to have done something different and had acquired a taste for unusual destinations.

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