When your on holiday in Spain, sunning yourself in a heat wave. The perfect thing to do is leave the country! As bizarre as that sounds this is exactly what we did. After thinking about it for a week we booked up a Day trip to Morocco.
A Day trip to Tangier, Morocco
We’d been holding off from booking this trip as it was 86 Euros per person. Multiply that by 4 and your looking at over 300 euros. Which as we’re on a poor exchange rate your looking at around £300. Before I dive into the trip, I’ll point out that afterwards we felt it was well worth the money. Plus being on an organised tour made everything much easier than driving there ourselves etc.
We booked with the Hotel for the trip, which meant that we were picked up at the door at 7.00am. It was still dark. One by one we slumped in to the coach and nodded off to catch the rest of our sleep. Our Spain based tour guide was a man of few words. So few in fact that we didn’t know his name, but referred to him as Mr. Bean.
Beany walked up and down the coach sporadically passing out information, that seemed to be mumbled and disjointed. The main point here is that you needed to fill out two immigration forms. One for arrival into Morocco and one for your return. We also handed in our passports to be checked over at the port. We were also given a sticker to be placed on our chest, in case of emergencies and group identity.
Crossing to Tangier was via a 35 minute ferry crossing. We’d left our bus in Spain, so we were pedestrian for a while. Mr Bean ran off upstairs on the ferry, where we then met another guide from the same company. Who pointed us to join a queue for immigration. To save time in port you pass through immigration onboard. This was a very slow process and seemed to take around 30 minutes. It was a little stressful, but a necessarily process.
After eventually being given the all clear we sat down and relaxed for 5 minutes. As the docking process started we headed down onto the exit level of the ferry. As the ramp was lowered I felt like it was the first time I’d seen daylight. The waiting travellers spilled out of the opening like Rats into the sewers! More passport checks and we were eventually ushered towards buses.
Tangier Bus Tours
Our new Moroccan guide was excellent, very personable and friendly. His name was Mohammed, and he had a counter part in the back of the bus narrating in french, also called Mohammed.
The first part was a scenic seeing the houses, villas, mansions and official buildings. Eventually we weaved our way up to the top of a cliff, where a view point over looking the sea became our first stop. As we stepped out Morocco happened… As tourists we also became potential buyers of all and sundry. Derek (my Father in Law), haggled with a vendor to buy some necklaces for the kids.
Next stop was at a randomly parked up collection of camels. Photos with the camels or short rides on a camel were the items to buy here.
Further along we stopped at Hercules Cave. A natural and man made cave that looks out to the see. The opening, to me looked like Beavis from Beavis and butthead. Although I should disrespect this as the silhouette is an icon of the area.
A short coach ride took us to the centre of Tangier, where we started our walking tour.
Tangier Walking Tour
We walked through a market place that was heaving. I firmly gripped Abigail’s hand to keep her near by. Probably being over cautious, but it’s better to be safe. Street vendors were every where, lots of fresh fruit, nuts and baked goods. The atmosphere was amazing, it felt like your were some where special!
We continued through the Market to a restaurant. As part of the tour we had our lunch included. In a real Moroccan Restaurant. We sat around long tables on carpeted / bench seating. While a band played music.
The meal consisted of a spicy bean soup, Lamb Kebab, then Chicken leg with Couscous. Desert was a crispy pastry snack drizzled in a honey like syrup. Finally we washed it down with a cup of mint tea. The food was really tasty, but the kids being kids, they pushed it around and barely touched it.
Back to the streets with a walk through the old market. This was narrow streets, that reminded me of scenes from Aladdin. The width of the street was about 4 people wide, which was a good job as for most of the walk there were street vendors following you and selling you on both sides. I did succumb and bought a set of rocks with crystals inside.
A quick stop at a Carpet shop. Which I think is exactly what we needed while on holiday. As I’d been rubbing sun cream on my belly for the past week I’d thought, wouldn’t it be nice to buy a huge, bulky carpet. My cynicism was matched by others as no one bought one, but the craftsmanship was very good.
Next stop was a chemist / herbalist. We were divided into language based groups and given a demonstration of various herbal remedies. A Pot of Saffron was being sold as a Period pain cure. White Musk is fantastic to keep mosquitoes away. Argon Oil will help bald men grow hair. So we bought all of the above as it was the weirdest experience I’ve had in a long time.
Heading home from Tangier
Finally we headed back towards the ferry to make our return to Calahonda. The tour itself was amazing and very much worth the money. We could not have had the same experience if we’d tried to do it ourselves. Some of the shops we went into were just little doorways on the side of these thin alleys. Plus if I didn’t have a sticker on my chest reading “Tourist please hassle me to buy your stuff”, I wouldn’t have a collection of carved camels, scarves, rocks and beads! It’s unlikely that I’d book to spend a week there, but a day trip was a great way of testing the water to see what was there.
A word of warning, the excursion is a full day and it takes a lot of energy to keep up!