A Glimpse into North Africa
Traveling to the city of Tangier offers an intimate glance into the beautiful North African city of Morocco. While visitors can fly into the Tangier Ibn Battuta Airport, traveling across the Strait of Gibraltar by ferry is a quick and easy trip for those staying in Spain’s southern coast. Several tour companies offer day trips to Tangier and many include multiple pick up locations near hotels and other points of interest. One such company is Viator, which does a good job arranging all of the logistics needed to travel to North Africa.
The day began early as I boarded a bus in Malaga, Spain that brought me to Tarifa, where I then boarded the Tarifa Tanger Ferry. The ferry is a fun and inexpensive way to travel from Spain to Tangier. Remember to keep your passport or other travel documents in your possession at all times, as there are multiple checkpoints where identification is needed.
The high-speed ferry offers a small convenience store, which sells drinks, snacks, and other souvenirs. I opted to remain on the top deck. I looked back at the Spanish coast, which faded from view as the vessel traveled across the strait. The deep blue water of the Mediterranean splashed against the side of the boat as my wife and I took pictures and enjoyed the view. Before long, the distant landmass of Africa came into view. I could hear the quick instructions the captain yelled down to the crew in Arabic as the vessel angled for the dock.
I walked across the top deck and marveled at the city and the square-shaped buildings that filled the coastal landscape. I recommend making your way below deck as soon as possible to stand in line at customs as the line can get long on the ferry. Once your passport is stamped you are free to explore the city. While booking a tour is a convenient way to see the city, there are plenty of ways to see the city without being accompanied by a tour group.
The first place you should explore is the interior walls of the medina, an area filled with authentic storefronts. Some of the few things that can be purchased while strolling through the medina are ornate crafts, souvenirs, and colorful rugs. The Medina is where locals go to buy everyday necessities and groceries. You can find meats, produce, spices and much more within the walls of the medina. Insider’s tip: most prices are negotiable; bring your best bargaining skills and embrace this unique cultural experience.
Another way to experience the culture of Morocco is through its cuisines and restaurants. Moroccan food borrows from several different influences of Mediterranean culture. Likewise, some of the popular dishes in the country include chicken, couscous, olives, lamb, Hairia, a tomato-based soup, and several varieties of fish. One restaurant that I enjoyed was Hamadi, located near the Port of Tangier. This restaurant offered an authentic Moroccan dining experience that caters to travelers. Decorated in traditional Moroccan fashion, beautiful tiles and rugs are used to accentuate high archways, reflecting the Moorish influences that can be seen throughout the city. Dining at Hamadi allows you to relax and take in the ambiance of the culture. It also allows for the opportunity to interact with the friendly staff, many of whom speak English.
Once appetites are satisfied, the ferry is just a short walk away. Tangier, along with the rest of Morocco, is a country that reflects its history in several different ways. Over the course of history, several groups of people ruled Morocco, each group influencing modern-day Morocco we visit today. Morocco, especially Tangier, borrows from both European and Islamic traditions and cultures. Morocco is a unique country and one that I hope to visit again someday.