A Travellerspoint blog

Across to Africa we go!

Leaving Europe behind we cross the Gibraltar Straits and float into Morocco!

Thursday 31st October 13 (day 61)

After a quick breakfast in our room, we walked down to the end of the Main Street to catch the bus to the train station. We were running early so had heaps of time and had to wait for about 1/2 hour for our train to arrive. It was a little late and we departed just before 11am.

Travelling on the train is much faster, smoother and much more expensive on the bus and we did this leg only because we did not want to sit on a bus for 8 hours and then get a ferry to Morocco all in the one day. Too much.

The train was on time and arrived at Algeciras station at 2pm, after a scenic journey through the hills, especially the bit after Ronda.

We walked the short distance to down to the port and after spending the last of our Euro change on a drink went to purchase a ferry ticket. We managed to get tickets on the 2pm slow ferry that was delayed until 3.15pm, but did not actually depart until 4pm. This big old beast looked like an ex-Stena line ferry that is now being neglected. Interior looked old, tired and dirty - as for the toilets, well I would not let my dog pee in them they were so bad. I walked in and out within 2 seconds - I could hold!

The crossing took just on 2 hours, but arriving in Morocco we had gained and hour so it was just after 5pm local time. The ferry docked at Tanger Med Port which is 55km from Tanger and the shuttle bus ran hourly and had left just before we docked - of course. A guy who negotiated a price for a grande taxi offered us 2 seats at just 5 dirham more than the bus so we accepted and soon were enjoying the exhilarating experience of a Moroccan taxi driver. How could I have forgotten these speed racer wanna be's??

It was dark by the time we arrived in Tanger and were dropped at the main bus station, exactly where we did not want to be. Last time I caught the Med ferry, the bus dropped us near the old town and this was near where I booked our hotel for the night. Not to worry, we found a petite taxi and soon were at the hotel door and checking in. 3rd floor no lifts - welcome to Morocco!

First thing, dropped our bags in our room and walked up to the large square cause it was time to eat. First cafe off the rank was offering harira soup so they won me. After a long day travelling we were hungry and ate a salad, chips and a chicken tajine before being satisfied. The familiar taste of the food came rushing back to me in a welcomed frenzy. Yes I hope to have all my favourites during the next 2 weeks we are in this country.

Lyn and I had been to Tanger before and went looking for our favourite cafe. We usually had a favourite in every town that we visited that we went to while there. Here we were hoping to catch up with a particular waiter but were disappointed to find he was either no longer working there or not on this evening. We chose another cafe to have our cafe-au-laits, deciding we will try again in the morning to see if he is there.

The coffee here is good, and after 2 glasses we were satisfied and returned to the hotel to catch up on a bit of internet and also managed to watch a American movie that had not been dubbed.

Friday 1st November 13 (day 62)

First up was to find coffee and breakfast. The sun was shining on Tanger and the day was warmish,still need for jacket as the temp is only low 20's.

We headed back into the medina, which was just 5 minutes walk uphill, from our hotel. We went back to the cafe to see if our waiter was working. Low and behold he almost had an attack when he saw us, could not believe his eyes. No idea what he said as he has zero English but it was obvious he was happy to see us again. And he was even more chuffed when Lyn handed him photos of him serving us coffee from last time, back in 2009 - how time flys. But we must have made an impression as we were remembered out of the 100's of tourists he must have come across in the last 4 years.

2 coffees and a sweet Moroccan pancake for breakfast later, we were ready to head back to the hotel to check out and go collect our rental car. I had looked at the address on the internet last night and although the distance was walkable, we decided on taking a petite taxi because we did not fancy carrying our bags the distance. And besides taxi's are very cheap here, the driver quoting us 10 dirham, not wanting to turn on the meter which meant it was only a 5 dirham journey but we were happy to pay the $1.25 for the 5 minute ride.

Of course no one was at the Dollar Rent a Car office, this being partly our fault as we had booked the car for a 10am pickup and it was now 11.30am, but who is ever on time in Morocco?? There were a few guys standing around on the street and one of them very kindly offered to call the listed number for us and was told he was here at 10 to meet us but we did not show, however he would come now and be there in 30 minutes. Goodo, time for us to have a coffee at the nearest cafe.

He did arrive 30 minutes later (could speak no English), but we managed to fill out the necessary paperwork and pay by credit card. It was then time to be shown to the vehicle and note any dents, scratches or damage to the car. And what a beauty it was. A Dacia Logan (same car we had in Romania) and noting all the existing damages took more time than filling out the paperwork. Which meant it was a bit rough, and the interior was dirty, dusty and had a full ashtray! Lovely! And of course the fuel tank was empty - so I hope that is the way we can return it as well.

As the reservation was in my name I was the listed driver. First thing we needed to do was find a petrol station and then try and get out of Tanger. Both of which we had no idea were in what direction, so we just got onto a main road and drove. The idea was to head south along the coast as close as possible but this was easier said than done as we had no idea which road to take. Just heading south worked for us, which really was the only possible direction as north would have us driving in the Straits of Gibraltar!!

Soon we came across a petrol station so were relieved that at least we had enough fuel to get lost with. A quick stop in a supermarket to see if we could find a map but not luck as they only stocked maps of France - not much use to us now. So we just decided to wing it and head in the general direction until we came across a place we wanted to go to.

Luck would have it that somewhere down the road we found a sign pointing to Larache which was exactly the place where we wanted to spend the night. Yippee,we had a win.

The landscape up here looked very dry, although most of the countryside seemed to be ploughed up fields so I guess during the season it's big time agricultural area there. Now the fields lie empty and turned over ready to rest over the winter.

The roads themselves were in pretty good condition, considering these were like back roads, we avoided the toll highway which would have saved time and probably miles and the tolls would be minimal but who's in a hurry?? Not us!

We drove into Larache just on lunch time. Perfect timing for a seafood lunch we discovered as we parked the car and walked down to the port. We found a restaurant where the food looked pretty good going by what we saw customers eating so went inside, made our choice and took a seat outside while our selection of seafood was being cooked. We ordered a side of salad to go with what we had selected, not knowing that some side dishes came automatically with the meal.
So we feasted on tender calamari rings, miniature sole fish and baby cuttlefish, with sides of fresh salad, white beans and saffron rice. It was all very yummy - at a total cost of 150 dirham ($18.75) or at least that was the amount of the bill they gave us. We had been quoted 100 dirham for the seafood and 10 dh each for the salad and 10dh for large bottle of water, but when I went up to pay was advised 150. I guessed the extra 20 was for the extra sides that we had been given. We were more than happy with that price so started walking away when one of the waiters called us back and the boss man apologised as he had overcharged us 20 dh which he was quick to refund to us. Unbelievable!! 20 dh is like just $2.50 but they were more than happy to give it back as we were overcharged. When things like this happen it really puts faith back into the country that they are not all out to rip off tourists.

While at the port we went for a walk down along the waterside where all the little fishing boats were moored lined up in rows. Some of the boats were still being unloaded with the days catch and there were little fish stalls just about everywhere selling the fresh produce of the day.

There were also larger fishing vessels where men were sitting on the docks meaning the large fishing nets. Happy to give me a big smile as I took photos. All very friendly saying hello to us, it looked like this was not a place where lots of foreign tourists visit.

We decided to drive into the main part of town and look for a hotel. This worked out harder than first thought as we did a lap of the complete town only to see one hotel on a very busy main road and when we stopped to enquire about a room, Lyn was given a price of 380 dh ($48). This seemed a very expensive price for a very average hotel so we decided to continue looking. Good thing we did as we stumbled into the centre square where there were more hotels and after pricing a few found a great one for only 133 dh ($17) which offered a better room than the others.

After checking in we walked down to the boulevard and were just in time for the sunset which we watched with about 100 other sunset watchers - all Moroccans - as I said not many tourists here.
Next up was to find a coffee shop for a hot beverage and an hour or so of people watching - or more like being watched by people. Not many tourists here so we were the entertainment for some of the locals.

After such a big lunch we were looking for something small to have for dinner and found the perfect solution in a small hole in the wall cafe selling harira soup. Perfect! This is such a bargain at 5 dh (62c) a bowl.

It was a bit chilly out so we returned to the hotel to listening to the chattering sounds coming from the street as we fell asleep.



Posted by Cindy Bruin 10:46 Archived in Morocco Tagged tánger larache

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Ferry sounds rough...but it got you were you wanted to be!
Wish I was with you already... really must get to Morocco some day!x

by dolly torkilsden

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