A new month, a new day and today on our Busabout adventure, a new continent. As we continue on the Iberian Adventure Tour we will head over to Africa and land in Morocco in the port city of Tangier, where we will be spending one night. This morning we pack up our things and depart after our short stay in Portugal and Lagos. As we head over the border, back into Spain, we travel along the coastline and head for the Spanish port town of Tarifa. Awaiting us on the other side of the Strait of Gibraltar is a completely different culture and way of life only separated by 14km of water.
Previously on this tour we started our journey off in the Capital Madrid and moved our way south towards the beautiful city of Seville where we spent one night and had a walking tour of the city with a local guide before having a group dinner so we could all get to know each other for the first time.
After the whirlwind that was Seville we continued on to a new country, Portugal and the seaside town of Lagos where we got to experience the nightlife and found ourselves taking part in one of the highlights of the whole tour, sea kayaking.
Day 04: Lagos to Tangier – 01 September, 2015
Today was going to be a pretty exciting day, not only are we travelling through three different countries we also get to leave Europe for one night and spend it over the strait in the Moroccan town of Tangier. Once everyone had finished having some breakfast from the house we departed Lagos and depart Portugal after our short stay here and to head back into Spain and head for the port town of Tarifa. The night before we were instructed to only pack a day pack with clothes that we will need for one night as our luggage would be staying in Tarifa on the coach with our driver Didier. When we arrived in Tarifa we were dropped off at the port and shown where our meeting point would be. We then had a couple of hours to explore the town and grab some lunch before heading over on the ferry.
Tarifa is the most southerly point of Europe and is only 14km from Africa, making it a very strategic place in the past where wars were fought, won and lost. This is where a number of ferries depart in any given day transporting people and vehicles from one side to the other and also involves us going through passport control as we are leaving the European Union. Tarifa is also where you can view the symbolic meeting of the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean and in the distance you can spot the small British controlled nibble of land called Gibraltar, but we will see that closer tomorrow on our return trip.
This is also our lunch stop for the day and we are given a few hours to wonder the streets, eat lunch, do some shopping, check out the old castle ruins and see where the sea meets the ocean. Once we were done checking out the town we all met outside the ferry terminal where Marysol had our tickets for the 40 minute voyage. From here we then went inside to go through Spanish passport control and we were warned that a lot of people like to push in, so be prepared to elbow people particularly children in the head. Slightly disappointed because on this occasion we were lucky and everyone maintained an orderly line.
Once we got on the ferry we needed to line up again in order to get our passport stamped by the Moroccan passport control. The great thing is that this is done on the ferry so it saves time at the other end. As we were some of the first people to board we didn’t have to wait too long in line, although some people did try and push in this time without any success. When that was done we took a seat and chilled out for the roughly 40-minute commute across the Strait of Gibraltar onto Tangier.
We arrived in Morocco and our local guide was waiting for us with another coach and driver so we jumped straight on board where our tour began straight away. We aren’t checking into our hotel tonight until we have finished our tour and have had dinner so we won’t get settled in until about 11:00pm, making it a very long day.
Our driving tour of Tangier started out by taking us down the main streets and showing us the main facilities of the town. It really felt like our guide was saying to us, look things here are not really that different to Europe, we are civilised too. However, all the same it was still interesting and a good way to see things given we weren’t going to be here for long and wouldn’t get an opportunity to come and see things for ourselves.
We were taken to the summit of a hill that overlooked the town for our first stop that involved getting off the coach and visiting some camels that were waiting in a car park. Everyone was given the opportunity to ride or pose in photos with the camels, personally I didn’t as I’m not really an animal personal first of all, and secondly, it looked a bit cruel that these camels were sitting in the car park all day waiting for tourists. Thankfully we didn’t stay here too long and we all jumped back on the coach. As we started to head down the hill we came across a group of goats running wild on the side of the hill which was also a good spot to view the entire town. It was also a good opportunity to take a group photo now that we were all in Africa.
The next stop on our guided tour of was to the heart of Tangier’s Medina (old walled city) or Kasbah which for me meant for the rest of the night every time I heard the word Kasbah said i would then have the song “Rock the Casbah” by The Clash stuck in my head and it wouldn’t go away until the next morning. We were taken down the narrow cobble stone paths and were shown the outside of some of the houses inside the Medina. Some of the locals then started to learn that we were around and some keen people then followed us around for the whole tour trying to sell us things, usually jewellery.
As we continued on we were then taken into a shop for one of the usual things you will experience on a group tour and that is a demonstration of something local to the area and then they will try and sell those items to you at the end. This time in Tangier we were taken to what you could call a chemist where they use a plant called Argan. Argan is a plant that will only grow in Morocco and the nuts from the plant are used to create oil. This oil can be simply used for dipping your bread in but also it is claimed it has many medicinal properties and can be used in a number of hair and beauty treatments. Here we learnt about the ‘power’ of Argan and were offered many of the soaps, shampoos, creams and other treatments on offer. I indulged and spent a few euro on a small bottle of cough mixture as I had a cough and thought I would give it a try. After seeing other people trying it and saying how disgusting it was, I never opened mine to try it!
Back out on the streets we went and after navigating around and being shown where the main market in Tangier is, we were taken to the restaurant for tonight’s dinner. It was really nice place serving Moroccan cuisine. This dinner was included as part of our tour so that was really good as well, we only needed to pay for any drinks we had. The restaurant also had a band playing in the background and just like with most things in Morocco you were required to tip them at the end of the night.
It was getting late when we finished dinner and it had been a long day starting with our departure from Lagos so a lot of us were getting tired, we now navigated the streets as night had set in and headed back to the coach. The funny thing was that one of the guys who was followings us around trying to sell things had not only waited until we had finished in the chemist shop which was well over an hour, he then waited a couple of hours around the corner from the restaurant knowing the exact path we would take back to the coach. Talk about persistence.
By the time we got to our hotel for the evening it would have been after 11:00pm and everyone pretty much went straight to bed. We stayed at a place called the Chellah Hotel which was decent enough. Although when my travel companion and I got to our room we found it in a state of mess with the beds not made and all the blankets thrown in a pile in the corner. Too tired to really care we made do for the night and went to sleep. The next morning we spoke to other members of the group to see how their rooms were and they all had no problems, so I guess it was just luck of the draw with my room.
Tomorrow morning we will be up early again and make our way back across the strait to Tarifa again and then head onto the student town of Granada which is home to the most visited tourist attraction in all of Spain, The Alhambra.
THE IBERIAN ADVENTURE TOUR CONTINUES, CLICK BELOW TO CONTINUE READING…