When I can see Africa from the beach, from my hotel window, and on the way to the supermarket, while clambering over castle ruins, and sipping my tea, when there’s only fourteen kilometres of water and a thirty-five minute ferry ride between here and there, there’s only one thing to do.
And I did it. Day trips to Tangier, Morocco, are readily accessible from Tarifa, the small town in Southern Spain where we were based last week. It’s the off-season, there’s no need to book. Getting a ticket is as simple as showing up at the booking office an hour before departure, and handing over the fee.
But when it came to the ferry crossing, five minutes out of the harbour and the only safe place for me was on the ferry deck with the wind blowing on my face. (I’m not much of a sailor!)
I didn’t disgrace myself and by the time we reached the first landmark of the day the clouds were gone, the waters had stilled, and I’d found my legs again.
Our itinerary included:
1). A whistle top tour through downtown Tangier, and the suburbs of modern Tangier.
2). A visit to the lookout point of Cap Spartel where the waters of the Atlantic meet the Mediterranean
3). A camel ride.
I couldn’t resist.
Even though the handlers selected a small camel for me that hump seemed very wide for my short legs. I thought I might slide off. After five minutes I was exhausted — my thighs had the toughest workout since climbing to Orisson on the first day of the Camino.
Handy tip for camel riding: when its time to dismount: lean back, lean right back. Failure to do so is likely to lead to catapulting to the ground.
4). The caves of Hercules.
It is said that from the ocean the mouth of the cave looks like a map of Africa.
5). A walk through the Medina, the old walled city.
5). A visit to the museum of Kasbah, which was once the Sultan’s palace.
The decorative detail in the palace was for me as much a highlight as the artefacts – and they were interesting. They included Phoenician and Berber relics, and a Koran from the fourteenth century.
6). Lunch at a traditional restaurant. It was delicious, and appreciated. All that sea air on the ferry ride had given me quite an appetite.
7). A wander through the Souk and a chance to shop. Which, to the consternation of the vendors, for me meant plenty of time for photos.
Shopping is the same as anywhere— everyone likes a bargain, although achieving that is a little different in the Souk. We were frequently confronted by street vendors who were insistent they had the very best bargains.
Top tip from our guide: Only make eye-contact if you are interested in the wares on offer. It felt very ill-mannered to most of us, but those who stopped to look did have difficulty with persistent sales tactics.
Where ever you are in the world, yummy food is always a winner. These cakes didn’t last long!
This day trip isn’t for everyone. There are plenty of complaints on the web about how touristy it is. But I loved every single minute. It was the first day in almost three months of travel when John and I simply paid up and tagged along. Having someone else do the organising, the planning, the thinking, the guiding was a real treat.
And, as tasters go, I thought we got excellent value for money. It was a lot of fun, it was educational, and the glimpse of life in Tangier was an eye-opener. I’d go again but for longer, much longer.