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Published: October 1st 2019
More musings or as Lee condescendingly remarks more ramblings. Because it’s train time again and I have almost 2 hours on a line we have travelled before but in the opposite direction and no Julie I do not mean backwards! This time we are Fes to Kénitra whereas 4 days ago we traveled Kénitra to Fes. We loved Fes, did last time did this time. The atmosphere is friendly and more so than Marrakech, the souks just as enchanting, the food better and our accommodation the equal or better than anything we have experienced. Having our 40 anniversary, and advertising the fact well, sure helped as the riad went well beyond expectations with gifts and little bonuses but the place is delightful. The staff were terrific and they have a policy of leaving a tip in an envelope to be shared rather than tipping each time for some service or other. We probably left more that way but we were comfortable with that idea. Even a few hugs and kisses on the way out which is unusual here.
A couple of unexpected purchases will see a card bill the size of the national debt of some small countries but that
is as is. Lee had decided to not buy small runner carpets for our bedside but...
As we didn’t really want them it puts us in a stronger bargaining position and eventually we paid about 35% of the original asking price and obviously both parties were happy enough with that result. Those coupled with several pashminas saw a cavernous hole develop in the cash reserves. And I haven’t mentioned the silver bauble and chain purchase, nor the T-shirts! What happened to ‘just a couple of fridge magnets’ will be enough?
It’s another full carriage. A couple from Boston (already subjected to the eat at Renos story) and 2 Moroccans. Yet as always it’s comfy enough and everyone is fine. The temperature is expected to get to 40 degrees today so it’s fortunate that we are heading towards the coast and will arrive before it gets really hot and where there should be some moderating breezes. We are staying quite close to the station which is good but not that close to the areas we know. It’s on Mohammad V but on the outer edge close to the beach. Probably good for walking but not souk, Médina or old
city territory. Tangiers does mean back to good ice cream and gelato which we have missed a bit lately and by we I mean me! The same good pastries are there and probably even a little better as there is more European influence there. Tomorrow’s journey will be tougher as we need to get to Tangiers Med Port as distinct from Tangiers Port. Not real happy as Tangiers Med is in the middle of nowhere and is a roll on roll off transport ferry with a few passengers whereas Tangiers Port is close and the ferry to Tarifa is predominantly passengers. But that’s the price for not seeing the tickets etc until a few days before leaving.
Just passed Meknes which contains some fascinating Roman ruins and is a bit of a tourist destination in its own right. I’ve heard about the ruins but we have never been or stopped there on our travels. But from Hadrian’s Wall, and even slightly north of Hadrian’s Wall, to Barcelona and Morocco those Romans beat us each time managing to leave their mark is some form or manner. So now when people ask ‘what did the Romans do for us?’ I’ll be
able to let them know they left ruins, some broken pots and a few mosaics! And some olive trees.
Whilst crowing about my pigeon pastilla to a couple of riad guests they trumped me with the fact that they were on an individual food tour and the previous day had had camel and then a sheep’s head delighting in the cheeks and eyes. Although it did not assist Lee digesting her breakfast it does quite intriguing and a good way to work your way around Morocco. They were off on a desert safari so their diet may even become more esoteric and more exotic. They were in the county for just a week, from the States, so they were moving a bit but also seeing a bit. Everyone managers to walk past the ‘butcher’ selling camel who displays the severed heads outside his shop but it is a bit of a gross image and I resisted taking photos. I’ll subject you to pluck but I do have standards! I have some of my pastilla from last night as a special treat later and I’m looking forward to examining it closely in the light to see what fruit is in
it. In the half light last night it was difficult to see properly. Originally the recipe used the heart and liver but the waiter last night said no and his English was good enough to understand what we were talking about. Again a close examination may solve any mystery.
Kénitra is one of those modern super stations, not exactly in the middle of nowhere, but seemingly disproportionate to its environs. It is a junction in the line and we then board one of the faster trains for the remainder of the trip but the station is sleek, modern and again functional. Again we shouldn’t have to enter the terminal as we only have 20 minutes wait here and if we can get the correct platform we will find some shade and just wait.
The carriage as distinct from our compartment is quite full of tourists, many from Australia. There was a large group of older travellers and probably about 40 or so so they have settled in but every now and then we hear a familiar accent. They all appeared quite weary, nearly all were in long pants adding to their look of discomfort and none seemed to
make eye contact which was a bit disconcerting as I had my smiley face on. Perhaps they thought I was a tout or something? Maybe they were correct as I would accept tips for taking and stowing their luggage (help to pay off the credit card!)
New train. Double decker high speed which should replicate the distance just travelled but take half the time. Fifty minutes to Tangiers. Very comfy new train. Again French design and very chic. Video display screens in Arabic and French with date, time, train number, destination and time of arrival displayed but as yet not the speed. There are power points available to each seats and the seats recline really well and are soft and comfy. I’m not a recliner as I travel but Lee looks as if she appreciates that amenity. This too is a track already travelled but not a problem as I enjoy the vistas and really it’s only a short journey, taking less than an hour. Some of the journey parallels the Atlantic coastline but that’s on the opposite side to my window so again it’s the bleak and dry landscape that we’re accustomed to seeing. Any
non irrigated looks harsh and dry and eking out a living from it must be difficult. Any irrigated land is at least green and certainly more attractive looking and appears to be able to provide some kind of living above a subsistence level. Just grabbed a shot of the display screen showing a speed of 317 km/hr. That’s as fast as any train we have had so far although it is difficult to tell it doesn’t seem like we are going that fast. It’s only when a train passes us in the opposite direction do we get that whizz and flash indicating serious speeds. Here both irrigation and plastic hothouses are used and they must be able to grow plenty as they are everywhere. Many are not in great condition and I remember reading somewhere that as they deteriorate the infrastructure (plastic, plastic, plastic and some framing) is simply ploughed into the ground or pushed to the side presenting environmental concerns. Still above 300 km/hr so it’s little wonder we’re in Tangiers in under half an hour.
This time we are in a large modern hotel, nothing like the small, intimate raids we have become used to. It will
be interesting to note the differences but we may need to get used to it as I think the same arrangements go for Spain and Qatar.
It is difficult to get used to women here in full head to toe black and even their eyes covered by dark sunglasses and then suddenly they are munching on potato chips and videoing on their phones. I think the woman next to us was covered as her husband left for a while but upon his return the chippies came out immediately. At the opposite end of the scale we saw a tourist that we considered totally inappropriately dressed and even we were a bit embarrassed by her as it must have been offensive to at least some of the local population. There are suggestions everywhere about dressing modestly and appropriately so I’m assuming this woman couldn’t dress herself or couldn’t read!
Ten minutes to Tangiers so that’s it for now, ciao.
It’s a different Tangiers as we are quite a way from the old city and the tourist centre, we had to haggle for a taxi whereas last time we were met and whisked away and we are
in a modern, multi unit complex that is friendly enough but soleless unlike the El Minza that oozes charm although admittedly from a slightly bygone era (Aristotle Onassis is not who he was once upon a time!). There’s not a cafe or restaurant in sight so my first task will be to find one or we will living on left over pastilla, nougat, peanut brittle and pastries. We could do worse but...
Our first room was not made up so we have been swapped and now our new room has no towels! Just solved though.
So it’s bath time then walk time. See you soon.
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