Tangier, Morocco

Africa for a Day


The first week of August 2016 I spent with Simeon from Munich at our friend Jose’s place in Tarifa, Spain. The three of us have met in New Zealand when we were doing internships there in 2014.

Tarifa is a small municipality located in the very south of the Iberian Peninsula, just a stone’s throw away from Gibraltar. You will get a better impression of the genereal area in this VIDEO from my previous POST. However, on one day we decided to cross the Bay of Gibraltar and take the FRS speed ferry to Tanger (or Tangier) in Morocco. The ride cost us 67€ pP for both ways and took ~35min each direction.

Place du 9 Avril 1947 & the Mosquée Sidi Bou Arrakia
Place du 9 Avril 1947 & the Mosquée Sidi Bou Arrakia

Not long after filling in your visas & leaving the boat you will feel the difference in the culture. Walking from the harbor to the center of town takes you about 15 minutes – at least this is what it took us in 25°C at 10am, uphill. We then changed 15€, which would turn out to be more than enough money for the whole day, including meals, drinks & souvenirs. After going to a really central café close to the “Place du 9 Avril 1947” & the “Mosquée Sidi Bou Arrakia” (Mosk).

After some bread with delicious honey & a glas of hot tea (both Moroccan specialities) we made our way to the local Fish-, Meat-, Herb- and Vegetable- market. The Hall was extremely crowded and fresh food was offered as far as the eye could see.

Vegetable Stalls
Vegetable Stalls

Looking at some of the corners of the market one would see an elderly woman or man sitting, trying to sell their herbs but barely being able to keep their eyes open. Farmers as seen in the picture below sometimes walk for more than 2 hours from their homes to the market just to make a dime.

Farmer Lady
Farmer Lady

Then we continued to make our way through the streets that remind you of Tales from 1001 nights, Aladin and other orient-movies. Unfortunately, we quickly got to know the downsides of being a tourist in Morocco. Know this: Sketchy people will try to involve you in all kinds of conversations with a similar end result – they will kindly suggest a must-see touristic attraction and will offer to take you there. Despite them being extremely friendly, I would not recommend following anyone you do not know through the intertwined alleyways. This does not mean one should not talk to anybody or feel unsafe. In most cases these people will actually show you something nice e.g. a great restaurant and then just ask for a little pocket money. However, it is better to be safe than sorry…

Stray cat realxing
Stray cat realxing

Other than that, Tanger is home to countless stray cats. Language-wise English should suffice. If you can speak Spanish or French that is even better, as most Moroccans in Tanger speak at least one of these languages – especially if they make earn their living with the tourists.

So, after walking through the small alleys, past plenty stands with spices, sweets, souvenirs and food we made our way to the city park – which also seemed to be a cemetery – and took a little rest next to the aforementioned Mosquée Sidi Bou Arrakia:

Mosquée Sidi Bou Arrakia
Mosquée Sidi Bou Arrakia

Not being able to find a tourist info we were lucky to run into a couple of Welsh tourists who happened to have a map and a tip. They mentioned that they have been told to go and see the historic old town or “Ancien Medina”. Not knowing much about the place we followed this hint and climbed the ~300m hill as the temperature steadily rose above 40°C.

Yeah, you can imagine…

Salon Bleu
Salon Bleu

Still it was worth it. One of our favorite spots was the Salon Bleu where you can get a great view over the old-town as well as the entire city of Tanger.

It is definitely worth to pay a visit & climb their ridiculously small round stairs to the terrace. Their food and service however are not that good, so you might consider a nicer (+ cheaper) place to have a lunch break. We had a menu of 4 typical Moroccan courses & a soft drink for ~13€ in town.

Rooftop view of Salon Bleu
Rooftop view of Salon Bleu

 The old town is surrounded by ancient city walls and its alleyways are extremely colorful. A lot of locals still reside in this part of town which is otherwise peppered with small cafés and kiosks. There is also a nice museum named “Musée de la Kasbah”.

Residential area in the oldtown
Residential area in the oldtowndav

We rounded the day off with some souvenir hunting and went back onto the ferry. Totally worth it!

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