Tangier Off The Beaten Path

  • The big fish!
    The big fish!
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  • The busy indoor market..
    The busy indoor market..
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    A polished cannon..
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Most Recent Off The Beaten Path in Tangier

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    Unique octagonal minaret

    by matcrazy1 Written Jun 29, 2005

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    All minarets of muslim mosques in North Africa are square whereas those, I saw in Turkey, were round. But, I did find this unique in shape, octagonal in lower part minaret somewhere in the Tangier's medina, close to Dar El Makhzen, the former sultanate and governor's palace.

    The stone decorative attic on the top of the octagonal part of the minaret looks strange and non-arabic in style as well.

    OCTAGONAL MINARET WITH STRANGE ATTIC
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    Along cliffed coastline

    by matcrazy1 Updated Jun 29, 2005

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    I walked a bit along the Atlantic side of Tangier and I honestly think that it is the most charming part of Tangier although nothing very fancy. The coastline is cliffed and steep there.

    There is a street along the cliff with poor, white houses on one side and steep cliffs with polluted beach down on the other side. It's a little bit strange that it's poor quarter of Tangier. In most cities areas adjacent to sea/ocean are rather upclass.

    HOUSES ALONG ATLANTIC CLIFFS
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    Double gate

    by matcrazy1 Written Jun 29, 2005

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    At first I was a bit surprised to see quite many gates put in the middle of the Medina but I shortly realized that the old Arab town was in continous, a bit chaotic growth in the past. Whereas old walls were ruined/demolished to give a space for new houses, many gates crossing streets survived till nowadays. I found this double gate, on my picture, somewhere in the Medina. The gates of Tangier's Medina are usually a little bit neglected.

    The pedestrians traffic (add few bicycles and various carts) is usually a bit heavier around the gates. There are always some stores or street stalls with food put close to the gates.

    THE MEDINA - DOUBLE GATE
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    One-way pass

    by matcrazy1 Written Jun 29, 2005

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    Many off the beaten path areas of the Medina are solely devoted to living. There are plenty of nice houses, painted doors, decorated gates, narrow, one-way passes and rose bushes all around.

    Just get lost there like I did! But, for personal safety reasons, don't forget to leave narrow streets of the residential areas of the Medina before it gets dark.

    THE MEDINA - ONE-WAY PASS
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    Off the beaten path medina

    by matcrazy1 Written Jun 29, 2005

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    The medina (Arab old town) of Tangier is quite large. At first I stayed on main, touristy, commercial streets full of suques (Arab style shops/stores) which served the tourist traffic.

    But surely I had to take off the beaten paths of the medina and get lost :-). First, I was looking for real local handicraft there but I didn't find any. No wonder, there were no visitors there except just me and my wife. Instead, I did find empty, mostly narrow streets with white, or dirty white, a bit neglected houses put along streets with no order. Add unbelievable chaos of different electrical or telephone wires and roof TV antennas (very few satelite).

    THE MEDINA - OFF THE BEATEN PATH
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    Beaches

    by grets Written May 8, 2005

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    The entire western coastline is dotted with beautiful white sandy beaches such as this one. The best thing is that most of them are totally deserted, so if you had your own transport, you could easily find your very own private cove for the day.

    Beautiful beaches

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    Cap Spartell

    by grets Updated May 8, 2005

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    The westernmost point of Morocco, a lighthouse marks the spot. As far as you can see to the west, there is ocean. We were told by the guide that this is the furthest point west in Mediterranean Africa.

    Cap Spartell

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    Map of Africa

    by grets Written May 8, 2005

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    The area around Hercules Cave is quite commercialised, there was even a hat salesman inside the cave entrance.

    Inside the cave, you wander down some steps and you can look out at the ocean through a ragged hole in the rock which the guide will tell you looks like a map of Africa.

    Map of Africa

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    Ummmm............................

    by freya_heaven Updated Jan 13, 2005

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    This is a difficult one, If you are visiting Morocco on a typical package holiday, I would say Tangier itself seems to be off the usual tourist beaten path. Although it does seem very popular with day trippers from Spain.

    Maybe St Andrews Church which is mentioned in an above tip and also in my "Palin Moment" tip , would be off most day trippers beaten path.

    St Andrews Church
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    Do Two Great Sun Activities at Tangier

    by dlytle Written Nov 4, 2003

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    Tangier provides an opportunity to see the sun rising over the Mediterranean and then, if you drive west along the coast during the day, you’ll view the sun setting into the Atlantic at dusk.

    Near Tangier, there are two promontories projecting into the waters of the two great waterways of northwestern Africa. Cape Malabata, a windswept and exposed beach area about 6 miles east from Tangier looks across the Mediterranean Sea towards the rising sun. Plan your day so you visit this area in the glow of the pre-dawn when sky and sea melt together in one blue luminescence. There is a Medieval looking castle at Malabata that was built in the early 20th century. A lighthouse tops it, like Cape Spartel. The area offers unobstructed views across the bay of Tangier to the Gibraltar Straits.

    After sunrise, drive west and visit Tangier and then in the mid-afternoon head west to Cape Spartel. Stop and visit the Caves of Hercules that have been in use since prehistoric times. Have a cold drink and lunch in one of the beachside shops along the way. Maybe take a swim along the golden sand beaches. Arrive at Cape Spartel in the late afternoon, an hour before sundown.

    Visit the lighthouse. Look over the coast of Africa across the sea to the European coastline of a different continent. Marvel at the rugged coastline with its pounding surf and blue waters. Admire the twisted, tenacious trees struggling to survive against the elements. Take your photograph with one of the donkeys nearby. Spend some time browsing the shops that have been setup along the roadway. Use your time to your best interests as the day grows long and the sun begins to sink into the Atlantic.

    Cape Spartel provides great views of the Atlantic Ocean and the setting sun. You will be glad that you have done this little trek when you are standing on the cliffs at Cape Sparel in the dusk, and the horizon is pink and blue and yellow, and the sparse native vegetation is being bathed in a golden twilight.

    It will be a moment of your life to be savored forever.

    Sunrise and Sunset Pictures near Tangier
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    Notice the Coca Cola Signs!

    by dlytle Written Nov 4, 2003

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    No matter where I go in the world, there is always a Coca Cola sign and usually a Kodak sign to be seen.

    Only 43 consumer product brands ring up annual sales of more than US$1 billion each and can be considered truly global, according to a study released in 2001 by AC Nielsen. The category with the most billion-dollar brands was beverages. The total Coca-Cola brand was number one among beverages at well over US$15 billion in sales, with its two sub-brands, Coke and Diet Coke, being billion dollar brands in their own right. Pepsi Cola and its associated sub-brands, Pepsi and Diet Pepsi (including Pepsi Light, Pepsi Max and Pepsi One), ranked as the number two beverage.

    I suspect that Kodak will soon be fading off my traveling radar screen. With digital photography becoming more and more popular, it is a company that seems to be trying to reinvent itself and only time will tell if it is successful.

    Coke sign in the Medina in Tangier
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    Camel Rides

    by dlytle Written Nov 4, 2003

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    It seems that one of the big tourist things to do in Morocco (and other desert prone countries) is to ride a camel. I had already done so years before in Egypt so I felt no urge to do it again. But a number of the folks on my tour bus opted for that unique experience.

    One of the reasons I think tourists like camels so much is their appearance. They have long eyelashes and a split lip that curves up, and a humped back, so that they resemble stuffed toys. But more than that, there is the exoticness of riding a beast seldom encountered in ones normal life. However, one soon learns that a camel’s gait throws the rider forwards and backwards, making for a really bumpy ride. One could almost get seasick from the swaying.

    If you do take a ride, or just mount one for a photograph, let your mind’s eye imagine that you are riding with Lawrence of Arabia and his band on the way to some exotic desert oasis. By the way, did you know that Lawrence of Arabia hated camels?

    But take to heart a word of warning. Camels are typically fleas infested so don’t be surprised when you find fleas on your person after even a short excursion on a camel.

    If you decide you still want to take a ride, and you have some insect repellant with you, spray your pants or jeans or outer clothing before you mount up. That might discourage the fleas from changing residence.

    Camel rides at many tourist areas near Tangier
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    Wild Goats of Morocco

    by dlytle Written Nov 3, 2003

    It appears that wild goats are among the common fauna that you'll find near the seacoast as well as in the hills surrounding Tangier.

    After the stop at Cape Spartel and on the way to a rest stop, these wild goats were feeding near the Caves of Hercules.

    Seemed to be a good photographic opportunity to me.

    Wild Goats near the Cave of Hercules
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    Site of Cotta - an ancient Roman Seaport

    by dlytle Written Nov 3, 2003

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    A short five-minute walk south from the Caves of Hercules takes you to the ancient Roman site of Cotta, a small area of stone ruins just above the beach. The archeological excavations have revealed several wall sections and the layout of a Roman town, probably dating from the 2nd and 3rd centuries.

    A guide will probably soon appear to show you around this mixture of villa and Roman industrial complex, with its baths, temples, shrine, oil press and central courtyard lined with vats that were used for processing oil and the other products of the town.

    Like many of the classical sites on the Moroccan coast, Cotta specialized in the manufacture of the rancid sauce made from fish guts called Garum (anchovy paste) that was beloved of the Romans.

    Site of Cotta, Roman Ruins near Tangier
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    Caves of Hercules - very interesting!

    by dlytle Written Nov 3, 2003

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    According to Greek mythology, 4,500 years ago Hercules found rest here after finishing his Twelve Labors. These caves, whose mouth opens onto the Atlantic and are flooded at high tide, are partly natural and partly manmade caverns.

    When I visited the caves the tide was high and we couldn’t get into them.

    But these large holes in the ground, on the hillsides, have water gushing up through them when the tide comes in. It’s thought that some ancient culture found the limestone useful and carved millstones out of the solid rock causing, over many years, caves to form as a result. If that is true you will wonder how they could do it. And you’ll realize what hard work that would have been for them with the crude tools at their disposal.

    At low tide, the significant photographic opportunity found here is the cave's seaward opening that frames the stunning blue of the ocean and sky and resembles a reverse silhouette of Africa. Also notable is a space of sea whose clear depths shift with the sea’s slow movement from the deep green of emerald to all the colors of the opal while in the sky above circles flocks of seagulls - noisy and insolent. Swimmers need to be cautious here as the water currents, just offshore, can be very strong and rather dangerous for weak swimmers. Stick to sunbathing if you're not sure.

    Looking out to sea from the rocks near these caves, your mind’s eye can imagine pirate ships running before the wind in the distance, as it was along this Barbary Coast that the pirates of the region once headquartered.

    Some say that these caves were once joined under the sea to St Michael's Caves that provides one theory about how the apes got across to Gibraltar from Africa.

    It is also my understanding that these caves were used on a cover of the Led Zeppelin album “Houses of the Holy”, the one with the children climbing the rocks and looking into the pools of water.

    Another thing to look for, located about 500 feet (150 m) from the caves of Hercules are the old 2nd and 3rd century Roman ruins of Cotta.

    Not the Caves of Hercules - but close to it
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