Off to Morocco today! We just had to manoeuvre the complicated bus network that had so far eluded us first. And yes, we almost failed at the first hurdle had it not been for a pen and some paper in my bag, I made a handy CONIL? sign when the first bus turned up we stood on the side of the road and the first person to come by gave us a lift, unbelievable, and brilliant. So anyway, a few buses and a few km of walking and we made it to the Tarifa – Tangier ferry.
We’d booked a weekend in Morocco with all meals and a tour for a bargain price at the Conil tourist information office and off we went. The ferry was brilliant, after celeb spotting Judy from Richard and Judy, who it turned out it wasn’t, we went up to the upper deck to be blown away by the sea wind like fabulous yacht-owning people. Here’s the proof..
And 45 minutes later we arrived in Tangier, Morocco, AFRICA! The people who were on the tour were given red badges so we met up with our fellow badge wearers, turned out it was two Irish people who we’d spotted as very strange on the ferry so that was interesting, (they turned out to be two of the most annoying, disgusting, small-minded and been-there-done-that people I’ve ever met). A German couple who kept staring at me, weird old guy (another been-there-done-that) and a Spanish family. So our odd little entourage boarded the tour bus for our quick whizz tour of the outskirts of Tanger, led by Ahmed our funny tour guide.
First stop, a panoramic view over the city of Tangier, or, if you’ve got a euro to splash, a ride on a camel. Check me out…
The bus took us round some of the biggest, fanciest houses in the area. House prices are ridiculous and the massive rich/poor divide was obvious. Old women were carrying massive bags on the roads up the big hills while the houses had gold plated letter boxes. We saw lots of families having may day picnics. He told us how the country only has a four-day working week (well, for the lucky few in office jobs) as Morocco is one of the most tolerant countries to other religions, so they have the Friday off for the Jewish culture, the Saturday for the Muslims and the Sunday for the Christians.
Then we went to an authentic Moroccan restaurant for soup, couscous, Tagine, shish kebabs and some weird native sweet dessert, and some delicious mint tea. Was all really tasty, only ruined by the ugly Irish couple and the Germans who kept looking at me. There was a music group in there playing banjos and other instruments I don’t know the name of.
We came out and he took us round the souks, the little shops. They were brilliant, some of them used the shelves built into the wall mastered from the concrete in there. They were all absolutely spilling over with stuff, I felt like Aladdin finding his cave. So many pretty trinkets, mirrors, carpets, bags, tea sets, clothes, foods, everything.
He took us in the markets, animal carcasses were hung everywhere and because the walkways were so slim you’d brush past the bodies, feel the wet animal skin on yours. We saw more little old ladies, wearing the native hats, sat down knees bent clawing away at beetroot to strip the green to make them look bigger and more appetising. Some were making bread, others were setting cheese and making it into a perfect circle, others were just begging the tourists. They looked so, so old.
He showed us the Kasbah, a bit where the Bourne Ultimatum was filmed and he took us into the Medina. This area felt quite menacing, and uncomfortable. The streets were really thin and there were lots of dark corners, he took us into a carpet shop. We were given a quick talk on how they make the carpets by hand, the different sorts, uses and prices, all very interesting but even more so when no one wants one. He tried to sell me a prayer mat which changed colour when you stood at either end, and he offered to buy me from Waiel for two carpets. Downstairs he had loads of amazing things; this was where the hard sell came in.
I presume our tour guide would get some sort of commission because he kept us in there for ages. One guy was trying to get Waiel to buy me a necklace and he really wasn’t letting up, he ended up offering it to him for half the price he started with. Proof you should never go for their prices. Anyway he was pretty funny, bit of banter and Waiel liked talking Arabic to him.
Next we were off to a homeopathy, he gave us a little speech on his wares and I learnt quite a bit. But again no one really wanted anything so was a bit awkward. It’s amazing when you go in the souks, they’re like Dr Who’s tardis. He took us round a bit more, showed us some mosques and then took all the others back to the port.
We went on to our hotel, Hotel Tarek, on the beach, it had it’s own swimming pool, dinner and breakfast included for only 30 euro more than those losers paid for 4 hours. We were happy with our purchase. Drank more of the delicious peppermint tea in a beachside bar, when the bill came and said 18, I nearly did a whoopsie. But this wasn’t euros, 18 dirham which is about £1.50. I love Morocco, cheap as cheap. We watched the most amazing sunset over Tanger from the beach and went back to the hotel to eat everything we could.