Travel tales from Tangier

I have visited the seaside port city of Tangiers on two occasions, once in 2018 and again in 2023.  Both times I arrived at the same point however in very different circumstances.

In 2018, I came from Spain, where in 45mins the high-speed ferry whisks you 38kms across the Strait of Gibraltar from the small seaside town of Tarifa on Spain’s southernmost tip and the departure point from the European continent to Tangiers and the North African country of Morocco. 

In 2023, I flew from my home in Sydney, Australia to Casablanca via Dubai, a trip of 28hrs.  From Casablanca, I took the comfortable high-speed Al Boraq train via Rabat to Tangiers in 2hrs with a top speed of 317km/h.

If arriving from Spain via the ferry, as the ferry pulls away from the dock, you may notice a queue already formed outside a small green shuttered window. I was advised to quickly find a place in the line, as this would be passport control before arrival in Morocco. 

Remember, you need to click on an image to get the full picture! 

On both occasions, my accommodation was located behind the fortified walls of the old Medina, located on the large hill south of the port, with incredible views across the city and the bay.

April and October are both good times to visit Morocco. With the winter cold finally giving way to warm days and cool temperate nights.

If Tangiers is your first stop when visiting Morocco, and you’ve read lots of books, looked at the travel images and imagined visiting a land of mountains, deserts and exotic imperial cities, then you might find the white-washed walls and built-up high-rise a little different from your expectations.

In fact, on my first visit in April 2018, Tangier wasn’t looking very exotic at all. It presented as a growing metropolis. Huge sums of money were being spent on a new port, and endless high-rise apartments stretched along the waterfront and, it all seemed rundown and grimy.

Instead of the town depicted as urban cool, where the well-known literary and artistic would gather like Tennessee Williams, Paul Bowles and Barbara Hutton, it all seemed somewhat less colourful, a seedy place with little warmth or soul. There were pockets of colour and typical Moroccan doors graced some entrances, however, my despair quietly grew as I began to think Morocco would not at all be what I had expected.

The weather didn’t help, as winter had thrown a last minute cold snap across northern Morocco and Europe.

However, my October 2023 visit was warm, and sunny with blossoms blooming from flower boxes 🌸 and of course, the traditional Moroccan welcome of mint tea poured expertly by our host at our accommodation Riad Saba’s House.

As you take the time to stroll around the hilly ancient Medina, you’ll discover the charm and warmth of the Moroccan locals as well as the fascinating history at the museum Dar El Makhzen. A former 17th-century Sultanate Palace and now the Museum of Moroccan Arts and Antiquities.

The museum was my first real experience of the intricacies of Moroccan interiors and the artefacts were stunning. I’m always amazed at how far and wide the Roman Empire travelled across continents.

Ruins were found in Morocco at the UNESCO site of Volubilis and here in Tangier, you can view the partial fresco of the soldier with horses and the spectacular floor mosaic depicting the Voyage of Venus

You know you’ve arrived in Morocco when you hear the Muezzins’ early morning call to prayers for the Muslim faithful and a visit to the bustling food markets and The American Legation Museum (TALIM) make for an interesting time.

The American Legation Museum (TALIM) was the first American public property outside of the United States and it displays the cultural and diplomatic ties between Morocco and the USA.

The museum houses interesting artifacts, letters and some beautiful artworks depicting nomadic Moroccan life. 

The museum also serves as a centre of studies where English literacy classes are held for locals and arts and crafts groups.

On my first visit to Tangiers, the waterfront was under construction with a new port and upon my return some five years later, it was nice to see the work complete and the waterfront looking great, and those glass block elevators taking people from the boardwalk down to the carpark is a modern touch.

When visiting Tangiers, it’s worthwhile to take the drive through the pine forests to visit Cap Spartel lighthouse and nearby Hercules Cave.

Located at the northwestern point of Morocco where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Mediterranean Sea, the Cap Spartel lighthouse stands tall warning ships of the coastline below and nearby Hercules Cave impressed with the opening said to resemble the shape of the African continent.

I’ll leave you here with more images of my visit to Tangier and remember to click on the image to see the full shot. The markets, the lanes and views from the rooftops.

In Tangier, I’ve stayed at the divine Riad Saba’s House and Villa Perla 🤩 as well as the eclectic and grand Hotel Nord Pinus, if you’d like more information about this accommodation, please contact me here.

If Morocco is on your travel list, Tangier is a great place to start your trip.  Please contact me with any questions you might have and I’d be happy to chat.

My next stop is the Blue Pearl of Morocco ~ Chefchaouen 💙🤍🩵

Nicole x

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