My son and I took the ferry to Tangier, Morocco, in 2018. The taxi driver drove us from the port to the medina. I had booked a hotel inside the medina. He unloaded our bags and another young man stepped out of a door on the side of the medina wall to meet us. The driver quickly drove away. It didn’t seem right. Once we were inside the walls, I knew it wasn’t right.

The “guide” motioned to follow him and briskly led us down a long, twisting, winding narrow route, dragging our bags behind, in what looked like a residential area—doors but no shops. He told us nothing about where we were, but occasionally looked back to see if we were following. Finally, the lane opened onto a broader area with a few shops and eateries and I spotted the hotel. When I chose this place to stay, I had noted that it was next to an entrance to the medina on the sea side. Our driver and guide had conspired to bring us in a different way, to give some business to his friend, I suspect.

The young man informed us that he was available for further assistance. We said “No, thanks.” But when we emerged from the hotel later, there he was sitting on a bench, waiting for us. We again declined his help and wandered the medina on our own.

Outside medina wall
Kasbah Mosque

We were looking for couscous and found a wonderfully flavorful restaurant in the medina. Moroccan mint tea was the beverage for this trip. After the meal, the waiter brought the check but would not take my credit card. I had to give it to my son to hand to him. And then he returned it to my son, despite knowing that it was my card.

The next morning, we met Maryam, our guide for a day tour around the city. I wasn’t interested in the newer areas of the city, with their sprawling colonial houses and manors, but the traditional places adorned with tile and colored glass caught my eye. We had lunch in an historic restaurant at a beautiful spot, planted as if growing out of the hillside, overlooking the sea.

See the boy running above
The cat finally looked at me
View from Cafe Hafa

The Caves of Hercules, on Cape Spartel, the northwestern tip of Africa, just west of Tangier, is the mysterious site of myths and legends. According to Atlas Obscura, one story claims Hercules slept here while on his search for three golden apples, believed to grant immortality to their owner. Another says that the opening to the sea, in the shape of the continent of Africa (kind of), was carved by the Phoenicians.

The confluence of the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, the separation between Europe and Africa, is at Cape Spartel. A crossroads of seas and continents.

Maryam, enthusiastically expounding, and Adam
Lighthouse at Cape Spartel

I had researched the possibility of a camel trek through the desert, but we would have needed at least five days, to get to a starting point and back, as well as a stay in the desert. These few days in Morocco were part of a longer journey and we didn’t have time. But the highlight of the day awaited us, one of the reasons I had chosen this day tour. Maryam took us to a spot along the Atlantic coast, where we mounted camels for a stroll along the beach. Get on your camel while they are seated, then hold on while they stretch their legs to stand. It’s a gentle rolling ride.

Beach reader
My ride

More to come. Morocco series: Marrakech, Essaouira, Tangier, Chefchaoen

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Published by rkrontheroad

Writer, photographer, traveler

41 thoughts on “Tangier

  1. Beautiful photos, Ruth. I did not go to Tangier on my Morocco trip, but if I were to go back I would make some time for it. I love that sign for the Mediterranean and The Atlantic. The card business is just ridiculous. I wonder what he would’ve done had you been alone there, not having a man on hand to present the card. Treat you to lunch, perhaps?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Leighton! Perhaps if I put the credit card down, he would have picked it up, but wouldn’t accept it from a woman’s hand. A similar story in the 70s in the American south at a gas station. I was driving, but the attendant went to the passenger side. I handed my card to my boyfriend, and it was returned to him. Anything to put down a woman in some cultures. 😒

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh, this is great! I love your descriptions of the city, beautiful photos of the old buildings and account of your tour. I recognise the behaviour of that first would-be guide – we were pestered by a similar one in Stone Town who waited outside our hotel every day despite the fact that we always declined his services! The views from that cafe along the coast are wonderful too, and I love a camel ride 🙂


  3. A beautiful city in Morocco! I’ve not been to Tangier, but being by the seaside, it certainly is a colorful and vivid place to visit. I feel you on the strange instances you had, from the opportunistic “guide” to the waiter who was only receptive to your son…goes to show that cultures can be very different country to country, and at times clash with our own upbringing, but to also not let them get in the way of having a good time– and you did have a good time!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love the colours in the old city. I feel as if I can smell the spices. In 2018 he still wouldn’t accept a credit card from a woman. It would be awful to live there I imagine. Thanks for the great peak at Tangier. Maggie

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Lots of themes here which are so familiar- the delivery by car to the wrong place, the “guide” who won’t take “no” for an answer, the newer city corners with so much less charm than the old. But above all, the good things…the mystique of ancient places, the atmosphere inside a medina, finding a fabulous eatery, looking from the white buildings out across the blue sea. There’s no doubt in our minds that the good of Morocco far outweighs the little difficulties that their different culture presents. Waking to the sound of the call to prayer…the colours…all so enchanting….although in reality there’s only so much mint tea a westerner can take, don’t you think!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh, how I laughed at the credit card incident. It took me quite a while, in Cairo, to realize that the server was treating you with the utmost respect. When we moved to Texas, our server was very concerned with my well being because I was waiting for Teddy to order for me… It didn’t help that I was wearing long skirts and sleeves – looked like I belonged to an extremist sect! As always, fantastic images. My favorite is the header, with the hats.

    Liked by 1 person

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