Ceuta - one of Spain's exclaves in Morocco

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April 10th 2019
Published: April 18th 2019
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A taxi from Tangier to the border with Ceuta cost us €40 and saved all the hassle of getting ourselves to the bus station then waiting around. We were happy that it represented good value and gave us the chance to ride for an hour or so in a clapped out old Merc along gorgeous coastal roads.

Ceuta itself is something of a curiosity. The taxi dropped us off at the border where we somehow managed to walk straight past the Moroccan immigration officials and were turned back before the Spanish ones as our passports hadn't been stamped. That meant a walk back along a long corridor to rectify the situation. It was a Sunday so the border was mercifully quiet. We had expected to see crowds of people, and little old ladies shuttling goods back and forth That delight was saved for our exit through the same border three days later. No photos though, as we were closely watched!

Hotels in the Spanish exclave were a bit pricey therefore we ended up in a tiny apartment a short way from the more touristy part of Ceuta. It was just 15 minutes walk down to Carrefour and on a bus route, so we were not too worried. It really was tiny, but the washing machine was welcome and the ability to sort our own breakfasts out for a few days meant we had the chance of some healthy eating.

Ceuta is a bit of an oddity. At a time when the Spanish government are shouting off about Gibraltar, it was weird to be visiting a relic of Spanish north Africa with a view of that very same controversial rock the other side of the Med. Eating a menu del dia for a few Euros, sipping a beer in a square, statues of Semana Santa and plenty of Spanish colonial architecture ensured that we felt quite at home. We had expected Morocco with a touch of Spain, but it is definitely Spain with a touch of Morocco.

The huge Royal Walls are impressive in their own right, but if you visit any time before Spring 2021, you have to go inside to see the exhibition of works by Mariano Bertuchi. We hadn't been aware of him before, although we had unknowingly seen his works on tourism posters of the "Spanish Protectorate" in places like Tangier. Honestly, that's the best art display we have ever seen. Oil paintings, water colours, sketches, posters, magazine illustrations and stamps: he did it all!

There are statues all over the place. Some of the military ones are impressive, and we particularly liked the one opposite the Spanish Legion museum. For us, it was great to see such an extensive and interesting collection of military memorabilia. For those with less of an interest it is probably not quite so entertaining. Photography was STRICTLY prohibited inside, and we complied, so you'll have to go and see it for yourself! Close to our apartment was the museum of the regular soldiers, but despite the efforts of the soldiers on gate duty at the barracks, we were unable to find it open. They tried their best for us, bless them!

The number 5 bus goes out to the small town (village?) of Berzu. We had no idea there was anything but the city of Ceuta in Ceuta! It's a lovely coastline and many people use it as an exercise track with a 7km long path affording wonderful views over the Med to the disputed Rock. We had been told to visit the tea room where we could have a mint tea and soak up the gorgeous views. Sadly the said tea room was closed. How typical! Still, it made for a nice morning out.

We also had a walk around the port area where the ferries go to and from mainland Spain. It has been developed into a commercial centre with Lidl and Decathlon probably the better known shops there. Nearby, but not easily accessible, we eventually found the old railway station. It is being heavily restored and we couldn't get beyond the perimeter fence. Once the project is complete it should be quite spectacular, and they are also restoring an old steam train alongside the main building.

We enjoyed our short stay in Ceuta, but we were worried about getting back into Morocco after Trish accidentally washed her passport! We told the border guards that it got wet in the rain. They seemed ok with that, but the passport is looking a bit wrinkly and smudged now. Hopefully that won't cause any future problems. Crossing over was straight forward and we were soon negotiating a taxi to our next destination, the blue city of Chefchaouen.

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