I traveled to Tangier from a flight that originated in Bologna and connected in Madrid. The Madrid airport is huge, so if you are traveling through there you should have a minimum of one and a half hours to make your connection. I had two hours, which only allowed me to sit and catch my breath before boarding the connecting flight.
The Tangier airport is tiny (about the size of the Florence airport) and brand new. The passport process went quickly and I they didn’t ask any questions. They have an interesting security procedure of scanning luggage before it leaves the airport. Of course, I wasn’t aware of that and tried to whiz by, but the guards stopped me quickly and I put my bag on the belt.
Getting a taxi was easy and they had signs everywhere with what I was to pay which was about $15. My taxi driver spoke a little English, but I gave him the address of the hotel, and we had a quiet 15-20 minute ride to the Medina.
The surroundings between the airport and the Medina were “suburban” with a real mix of housing. Lots of new construction and some buildings that looked like a war zone, but people were still living there. The roads were new, wide, nicely paved and clean. They have built a new soccer stadium for an upcoming world tournament that they plan to hold here. We passed some shopping districts that had store names that I recognized like Brico and Carrefour. The road signs were in Arabic and French so I could “sort of” read them.
The weather was sunny and warm and there was lots of green grass, fields, and trees. Then we reached the sea and it was breathtakingly blue!
The real adventure started when we tried to turn onto the road leading into the medina. It was under construction and closed. We could not pass. Three of four men quickly descended upon the taxi to “help” me with my luggage. They begin to argue with each other about who would be helping me. In the midst of it all, the taxi driver gave me directions to my hotel. It wasn’t too far, but it was uphill. I had a relatively small roller bag, my purse and a backpack with my computer. Thankfully, I was traveling light! I started up the hill with all of the men in tow and all of the yelling at each other and in between saying, “I’ll help you lady. This way lady.” Another man who spoke English well yelled to me. “Do not trust them. They want to make some money. Do not trust any of them.” I told him thank you, and the other men directed their anger towards him. A couple of them turned to him and left me to wander off while the other two continued to follow me but continued yelling at him as well. It was quite the spectacle and I just continued walking up the hill. Eventually, after I had said “no thank you” at least two dozen times, they lost interest and I was alone.
Thankfully, there were some signs with arrows pointing to the hotel for which I was very grateful. The roads and alleyways in the medina are small and cars can’t pass in most of them. It is very easy to get lost, I have already discovered.
Anyway, I found my way to the hotel without getting lost and once inside the riad, it was beautiful and calm. A Moroccan woman named Hannan was at the front desk, checked me in, and took me to my room.
The room was very lovely and exotic with a beautifully tiled bathroom. I am always aware I am in Morocco when I am in it. It is very classically decorated. The lobby areas are elegant and in the mornings, I had breakfast on the rooftop terrace that has a lovely view. The breakfast each day was fried eggs, a pancake-like bread, with honey and jam, some other breads with cheese, coffee, and fresh squeezed orange juice.
When I walked out the door of the restaurant, there were several men waiting to take me on a “tour”. It is nice to have someone point out the sites, and it helps to ward off others who want to be of service. At the end of the “tour”, you can just give them what you feel is justified for the amount of time and information that you receive.
There was one boy about 12 years old and he ended up dragging me all over the medina. The medina is on a hill and there are many small alleyways and stairs. He held my hand as we went up and down and pointed out different sites. He pushed away other men who spoke to me or offered their tour guide services. He was patient when I took photos and offered to take some photos for me. He is learning English, French, and Arabic in school and I was happy to be with him. He took me into a pharmacy filled with spices, teas, and cosmetics made from argan. The man there gave me an explanation of their products, which was fascinating. Adil, the young boy, returned me to my hotel and I gave him 10 euro. He was thrilled. We had spent about 2 hours together.
After taking a rest I went back out to explore. While I was on the terrace sipping mint tea, that Morocco is famous for, the evening started and everyone was out. The nighttime is very lively. In the medina, during the day you see mostly men. At night the women come out to do errands. Most of the women in the medina wear a hijab. I was definitely identifiable as “not from these parts”! Most everyone speaks a little English, but everyone speaks French, Darija, and even Spanish. Everyone was friendly, helpful, and kind.
After the first day, I had familiarized myself with the medina and was ready to explore the surrounding area. The hotel arranged a private tour for me by taxi. Stay tuned to hear more about my exploration of Tangier in upcoming blogs!
I’ve rediscovered Brussel Sprouts! My son had told me last year that he had been roasting them often, and shared a recipe with me that I never got around to. After seeing these beautiful babies in the market, I was inspired. I use the stove top method vs roasting, but both are great. Here is what I do:
Cut the stems off the sprouts and slice in half.
In a large skillet, pour olive oil and then put in the sprouts, cut side down. Salt and pepper and toss in the oil. Saute on medium heat until tender. I like mine a golden brown from the oil. It takes about 20 minutes. Delicious! You can also try them with a little balsamic vinegar.
You might recognize the title from a line in the movie, Young Frankenstein, and it pertains to the same thing here as it did in the movie….door knockers! The doors of the palazzos in Florence are incredible, dating back to medieval times and the Rennaissance. The door knockers made of forged steel are really beautiful and pieces of art unto themselves.
Here are some of my favorites and the most unusual.