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Published: February 12th 2011
Living on the Costa – Part 4
Tuesday 18th – Thursday 20th January 2011
Being so close to another continent proved too tempting and we signed up for ‘Bill’s bargain basement Tangier Tour’. A cabopino contingent of ten brave souls – destination Africa !
A three day two night excursion to the Moroccan city of Tangier.
Day one – up before time began to catch a coach on the main road and off to the port of Tarifa to catch the fast ferry across the straits of Gibraltar.
A free tour of the city and its environs ( with the day trippers ) this was a whistle stop tour including a camel photo opportunity, royal summer residence, kasbar, snake charmers and the souk ( ‘selected establishments’). As we appeared to be the only tourists in town we attracted every street vendor available peddling all manner of tat. No thanks / Non Merci only encouraged a reduction in price of the goods being offered but added to the atmosphere.
Lunch ( also free – good planning Bill ! ) was taken in a small restaurant and was accompanied by local musicians and was enjoyed
The day trippers then departed for the ferry and the operator tried to take us to a different hotel ( out of town ) to the one we had booked. After much haggling and payment of their commission in exchange for a promissory note we were taken to our original hotel ( well done Bill ! ). Dinner was served in the hotel restaurant as part of the package and was an opportunity to discuss the day’s events and relax over a few glasses of vino.
After breakfast we made our way to the city tourist office in order to get a ‘proper’ map.
This is tourism of a different kind - a tourist office that did not ‘do’ maps but did offer a local guide.
In the event having made clear what we did and did not want to see this arrangement worked out fine.
For 15€ we had 2 hours of his time, his local knowledge and his ability to keep the street vendors away.
We saw the local produce markets, the medina and souk and had an interesting morning in his company. The boys got a
fez each, thrown in ‘free’ as part of a deal to buy Max a Kaftan and although I came away thinking we might have squeezed the price down further ( don’t you always? ) everyone was happy including the shop owner !
In the afternoon we sat at the Café de Paris opposite the French Consul and watched the
( strange ) world go by - everything and everyone a real mix of humanity.
We watched the lone policeman blow his whistle and try to control the chaotic traffic that took zero notice with much amusement.
We watched an old berber gentleman slowly shuffle backwards and forwards across a busy intersection defying death.
It’s a different world and next door in Tunisia it was kicking off.
We joined Bill and Carole after breakfast to visit the ‘shop of all shops’ an aladdin’s cave of goodies.
Ben wanted an Aladdin’s lamp but alas they were out of such things. What they were not out of was all manner of old tiles, furniture, mirrors, light fittings it went on and on into the dark dusty interior - a fascinating place.
We took time to have a
final coffee at the Café de Paris before making our way back to the hotel for the coach pickup. ( Its still a mystery to me as to whether the blind beggar was blind or just a good act )
At the ferry port we watched the customs and police search and scan vehicles for illicit goods.
One suspect having had his car scanned with a huge mobile scanner had his car wheels removed and tyres let down and examined after which he was left to re-assemble it himself.
On arrival back at camp Bill suggested we nip down to the local rotisserie for take-away chicken and chips a great idea and an opportunity for a quick beer at the end of a busy day.
All in all a great trip – thanks Bill and Carole for all the effort you put in organising it.
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