Travel from Spain to Morocco by sea.
Favorite thing: The Algeciras to Tanger Med ferries are the way I always enter and exit Morocco, from Spain, at €20 it's cheaper than the Catamaran Tangier port to Tarifa crossing (Dh390) which can sometimes be cancelled in stormy weather in the Gibraltar Strait, whereas the bigger stabilised vessels, operating on the longer two hour crossing are rarely affected, and the hourly sailings operate eighteen hours a day, on the summer timetable. A transfer coach transports ferry passengers to the roundabout at the main bus station, Gare Routiere , fare 25 dirhams, ( it used to be free but the facility was being abused by freeloading change money touts travelling to the port!) .......or there is the option of the grand taxi rank just outside the ferry terminal, if you're in a hurry, because the transfer coach turns up when it feels like it.
On the return journey from Tangier bus station (Gare Routiere) to Tanger Med port, the transfer bus operated by Tanger Med port Authority picks up passengers at the bus stop on the big roundabout at Place Al Jamia al Arabia, beside the bus station, or again, Mercedes grand collective taxis make the trip for about Dh200 or Dh50 if sharing the cab with three other passengers. The grand taxi rank is beside the bus station, at Place Al Jamia al Arabia, expect lots of haggling over the taxi fare, the driver will not depart until he has received his total fare in advance, however it is split among the passengers, but of course, the taxi can be booked by one passenger alone, paying the full cost. Normally, female passengers are encouraged to occupy the front seat beside the driver, to avoid groping (either intentional or unintentional in the rear bench seat,) but you may have to pay for two seats in the front, the taxis are comfortable six-seaters.
The main attraction of using the new Tanger Med port is that instead of being hustler-infested it's plain-clothes police-infested, pre-occupied looking for the usual suspects and providing security for tourists.
Occasionally a change money tout might offer unofficial currency rates, but these people are acting illegally, foreign currency should only be exchanged in banks or licenced agencies. Blackmarket exchange carries the risk of snatch theft or receipt of counterfeit banknotes. Moroccan dirhams can be purchased in advance of travel from Spain at many of the ferry ticket agencies around Algeciras, although the exchange rates are not so good, so it's better to change only a small amount of cash, until the bank opens at Tanger Med at 9 am (Sundays closed.)
It's legal to import or export up to one thousand dirhams, but I've never seen any checks on this, the officials are too pre-occupied checking passports against the police computer to detect any history of criminal activity in Morocco.
There are two stand alone cash machines in the Tanger Med terminal building, but one displayed a notice advising that if your card was retained to use the contact phone number...this is something to be avoided, nowadays I always ensure that the bank is open before using an ATM, having fallen victim to a confiscation for no valid reason at the Banque Populaire, Chefchaouen two years ago....
I also noticed that some of the ATM's in Tangier had worn-out keyboards which did not function properly, something else to beware of, and sometimes run out of money at weekends!
So many hustles and pitfalls, sometimes going on my annual holiday to Morocco can seem like hard work, until I arrive at Essaouira's deserted north beach, and relaxing in the hot sun, with the prospect of a bibulous evening in all my favourite bars, everything falls into place and makes sense......
Fondest memory: The waterfront tapas bars and sunny Mediterranean climate.
- Hiking and Walking
- Budget Travel
Beware of Moroccan ATM's etc.......
Favorite thing: The Algeciras to new port Tanger Med ferries are the way I always enter and exit Morocco from Spain, it's cheaper than the fast catamaran ferry between Tangier port and Tarifa, at only €20 one way per foot passenger (compared to Dh390 on the fast catamaran) and the hourly sailings operate eighteen hours a day on the summer timetable.
The alternative sea crossing is from Algeciras by transfer bus to Tarifa port (the bus timetable coincides with the ferry departures and arrivals.) Tickets can be purchased at any of the agencies around the Algeciras port and the bus departs from the coach parking, just outside the ferry terminal. On arrival at Tangier port it's best to disregard the invitations of taxi drivers who rarely use the meter (compteur) and try to take advantage of the traveller's ignorance and charge an extortionate fare. A better plan is to walk out of the port area and flag down a moving small blue taxi for onward travel to either the bus station or the new Tanger Ville train station, either destination costs Dh20 from the port. Avoid the white Mercedes grand taxis, they are only supposed to operate outside the city limits, but many try to pick up inside the city, if desperate for revenue, and will try to extract as much as possible from the hapless traveller!
At Tanger Med port I only encountered one small insignificant change money tout, on my trip last year, but he was effectively put out of business when the port bank opened up at 9am. Changing money with touts is illegal and inadvisable, running the risks of snatch theft or receiving counterfeit banknotes.
There are two stand alone cash machines in the terminal building hall at Tanger Med, Banque Populaire and BMCE but the latter displayed a notice advising that if your card was retained to use the contact phone number, this is something to be avoided, nowadays, throughout Morocco, I always ensure that the bank is open before using an ATM, having fallen victim to my card's confiscation for no valid reason at the Banque Populaire, Avenida Hassan 2, Chefchaouen two years ago, sometimes these ATM's run out of cash at weekends, due to heavy demand, especially in big cities, so I always keep a reserve of cash as a precaution.
If arriving at Tangier port from Tarifa, there is a change money facility and ATM in the cluster of portacabins outside the terminal building, tickets can also be purchased here or at agencies outside the port along Avenue Mohammed 6.
I also noticed that some of the ATM's throughout Tangier had worn-out keyboards which did not function properly, something else to beware of.....
So, many hustles and potential pitfalls, sometimes going on my annual holiday to Morocco can seem like hard work, until I eventually arrive at Essaouira's deserted north beach, and relaxing in the hot sun, with the prospect of a bibulous evening in all my favourite bars, everything falls into place and makes sense............and I'm happy !
Fondest memory: I've been visiting and travelling through Tangier many times over the past thirty years, so have lots of memories, and know the city well, it has its downsides, but nowadays over the past three years I've noticed a renaissance, King Mohammed, unlike his father, Hassan, who loathed Tangier, has ordered new investment to attract trade and tourism, especially because of the city's proximity to Spain and onward trade connections with the new European "superstate!"
I only have one photo of these fond memories, taken in the Hotel Ibn Batouta, Rue Magellan during Ramadan, June 1985....many of the Tangawis I knew in the old days are now sadly ",gone to Allah "....
- Budget Travel
- Hiking and Walking
Late-night bibulous activities.
Favorite thing: Probably an unsteady tour of Tangier's many beach bars and discotheques!
Fondest memory: My best memories of Tangier, and which still exist today are the Spanish-inspired " Tapas " bars, which predominate late-night drinking, for those unfamiliar with the routine, if you order and consume a couple of alcoholic drinks, and appear intent on staying in the establishment for longer, small plates of free food are offered, as a compliment of the house in gratitude of your custom, but more especially in the case of Moroccan drinkers to prevent, or at best delay, the onset of raucous inebriation, on an empty stomach.........
Another favourite haunt is Eric's Hamburger shop, located in an alleyway off Avenue Pasteur, German national Eric has long since departed, but the shop is open 24 hours and a cheap eaterie, sit on the stools or take away, popular with Tangier locals.
Some Tapas bars are more generous than others, and in Tangier small fried fish, fresh from the harbour landings, accompanied by salad, rice and petit pain bread are the usual offerings, as long as you keep ordering more drinks, the free Tapas will continue, supervised by the all-vigilant waiters, it's in their own interests to avoid a client becoming "legless".........
And, of course, at the end of the evening's session, the waiter will expect ( and always gets a generous tip, typically Dh20 or more, depending on customer satisfaction )
A generous tip in Moroccan bars will always guarantee customer recognition and preferential service on a subsequent visit.........
- Food and Dining
- Beer Tasting
- Budget Travel
Favorite thing: Tangier enjoys a Mediterranean climate and it can get quite hot during the summer months. If you are trying to miss the rainy season then late spring through to early summer is a good time. The winters are fairly mild with an average of about 20C, but can also be wet.
- Historical Travel
Mark Twain's Take On Tangiers
Favorite thing: Mark Twain (aka Samuel Langhorne Clemens) visited Tangier and commented “I would seriously recommend to the Government of the United States when a man commits a crime so heinous that the law provides no adequate punishment for it, they make him a Consul-General to Tangier”.
- Historical Travel
Favorite thing: During the early days of World War II, US espionage operations were based in Tangier.
For the period between 1932 and 1956, Tangier came under the control of a 30 nations committee to be an international tax free zone. Wealthy expatriates used the city for financial fraud and smuggling operations.
- Historical Travel
Movies With A Local Flavour
Favorite thing: Parts of the following movies were filmed in Tangier
Man from Tangier – 1957
The Living Daylights – James Bond movie. – Timothy Dalton
From Russia with Love – James Bond movie – Sean Connery
The Bourne Ultimatum – Matt Damon
The Wind and the Lion – Sean Connery, Candice Bergen
Prick up your ears Joe Orton – Gary Oldman
- Historical Travel
Favorite thing: In the Medina you will see mounts of olives, black and green. The countryside around Tangiers is very fertile and just perfect for growing olive trees. Morocco is the second largest exporter of olives (next to Greece). Olives are certainly staple in the Moroccan cuisine.
- Historical Travel
First visit June 97
Favorite thing: My friend was working for the Calcuta sisters there in a house for single mothers, that are illegal in Morocco (single mothers), so I decide to visit her and while she was working I use to take care the children there, they were so sweet, so great, you could not stop loving them!
This was one of the mothers, No, she was not hurt, she had a problem with an eye ...
I am afraid my experience in Tangier was not very tourist, it was very therapeutically for me, as I was just dismissed from a horrible job, and my friend suggest me to go there, help them for a while, and she promise me I will see life completely different after that!
I agreed with her immediately!
Sometimes we need someone to remind us, how lucky we are to live in such wonderful conditions as we live in Europe...
maybe is not my best tourist travel but it has been the one that teach me more about this wonderful moms, broken families, new families (one of the single mothers got married while being there...). I was told while I was there that single mothers does not exist there, and their kids do not exist for their law... I am not sure if that is true still now... as Morocco is changing a lot.
The only thing I did not like was that I was suggesting not smoking in the street, as I was a woman! (I was suggested only to do it in my private accommodation!) Horrible for an addicted person LOL
Architecture and Customs
Favorite thing: I loved the architecture, especially at the mosques. The Arabic influences are beautiful. Seek out the colorful tile work and scrolling iron work. My favorite times of the day were the call-to-prayer. When the deep, melodic voice resonates throughout the town, the faithful cease their personal errands and devote time to prayer.
Favorite thing: Morocco, the name itself evokes exotic images. Moroccan cuisine has strong routes in tradition and is rated as THE best in the world. The Moroccans are very proud of their food. The sharing of meals is an integral part of the culinary experience and the foundation of the Moroccan way of life There is a strong sense of family and tribe.
Morocco is an agricultural paradise. The heart of Moroccan cuisine lies in the spices expelling tantalizing fragrance, color and warmth. Set recipes are very rare, each dish will have the signature of the creator, who is always a woman.
The country’s national drink, tea is drunk every hour of the day. Although it is said to be the favoured drink of the Prophet, the truth behind the history of tea is the English who offloaded it in Tangier during the Crimean War. Mint is grown all over Morocco but flourishes in the mountains. The only mint that can be used is ‘mentha viridis’. The best quality, dark with firm stalks, comes from Meknes or the Zerhoun. Freshly brewed na’na’ MINT TEA has become a fine art and a national symbol.
As the national dish, couscous has a strong religious and emotional significance. Made from durum-wheat semolina native to the region mixed with smaller quantities of either drum-wheat flour or a soft-wheat flour, it is usually served topped with a stew. Moroccans believe couscous brings God’s blessing upon those who consume it. Couscous needs to be prepared with patience, rhythm, time and the finesse of the woman preparing it.
Bread or khubz’, the most basic and essential food is sacred in Morocco. The Prophet ordered that that bread be treated with the utmost respect, so any bread found thrown away in the street must be moved out of the way of foot traffic with a short prayer. Loaves are baked early morning in terracotta gas’a in a communal oven.
One of the cornerstones of Moroccan cuisine. Jewish Moroccans developed the art of preserving using salt. Olives from around Fes and Meknes are some of the best in the Mediterranean. Lemons are preserved in the spring when they are their ripest and sweetest. Some regions add cinnamon sticks, cloves and coriander for an alternative taste.
For a delicious Morocco breakfast, try this yeasty semolina pancake with a distinctive honeycomb appearance. Serve with ‘khli’’ preserved meat.
This pastry is widely regarded as the crowning dish of Moroccan cuisine. This pastry is served to newlyweds the morning after their wedding night to symbolise their family’s wish that life together should be as sweet as this creation.
The Moroccans eat three meals a day, the main meal being around mid-day.
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
The Weather in Tangier
Favorite thing: It is very important to know it before the visit:
How to transform from Fahrenheit to Celsius? Deduct 32, divide by 9 and multiply by 5.
Example: 85 Fahrenheit, minus 32 = 53, divided by 9 = 5,89 by 5 = 29,4 Celsius.
Favorite thing: * Tourism Office in Tangier
29, Boulevard Pasteur
- Tel.: (+212) 39 94 80 50
- Fax: (+212) 39 94 86 61
* Tourism Offices around the world:
- www.turismomarruecos.com/oficinas.htm (click on the flag and you will see the address of the tourism office).
* Website about Morocco in general:
- www.turismomarruecos.com/pais/organice/direcciones/set.html (Spanish)
* Website about Tangier and the north:
- www.estrechodegibraltar.com/Tanger.htm (Spanish)
Hire a guide.
Favorite thing: If you don't want to be harassed by the aggressive vendors and want to avoid all the tourist traps I suggest you hire a private guide. I was able to find an excellent guide in Rick Steves Spain/Morroco tour book. Our guides name was Aziz who turned out to be a real treat for my wife and I. After talking to Aziz and telling him what our interests were and what we wanted to see we experieced Tangier minus the tourists and tourist traps. We were not approached once by vendors and it seemed that everywhere we went everybody knew Aziz. I highly recommed hiring a private guide when you go to Tangier if you want to get a real feel for the people and their rich culture.
- Historical Travel
- Arts and Culture
A LITTLE BIT ABOUT TANGIER
Favorite thing: Located in Northern Africa, TANGIER is across the Strait of Gibraltar from Spain. The location of Tangier at the crossroads of Europe and Africa has made it an important port and commercial center.
There are three official languages, French, Spanish and Arabic. The city of Tangier is a mixture of the old and the new. The old part of the city, called the Kasbah, is walled and has white houses and narrow winding streets. The new European section is modern and luxurious. One of the modern buildings we passed on our bus tour, is the Moroccan National Assembly building, pictured in the extra pics section.
- Family Travel
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