"How Not to See Tangiers" Tangier by Ekaterinburg

Tangier Travel Guide: 489 reviews and 1,225 photos

Trips to Tangiers don't have to be horrible....

I'd been to Morocco twice in my pre-VT life, once to Agadir and Marrakesh for a week and once to Tangiers on a two-day trip. The previous trip to Tangiers, I had booked in desperation on finding myself trapped in Toremolinos in an unbearably hot and humid August. Every day I passed the Travel Agent's window and read the ad for Tangiers. What attracted me most was the phrase 'air-conditioned coach' as I knew the journey would take several hours. So selling my soul and blowing a small fortune I booked three trips to Tangiers for myself, himself and youngest son. We went at the usual ungodly hour of 5.30 and YES the coach was air-condiditoned and I stopped sweating for the first time since I'd left home. Gibraltar was the first thrill and seeing it looming out of the morning mist we got quite excited. The ferry trip followed ( and I would have paid just for the sea breeze) but eventually, off in the distance, the white medina of Tangiers, glittered on the hill above the port. We landed in another world where men in djellabas swept the ground and the raucous shouting and general confusion made me feel I was on a n Indiana Jones movie set.

Herded into another air-conditioned coach I expected nothing more than mediocrity but was happily surprised. The guide, a British ex-pat, brought the city vividly to life as we cruised along the sea front and climbed up into the city proper. Just the right amount of history, anecdote and local knowledge was imparted to make me hang on to his words. The walking tour up to the Kasbah and back down to the Medina was a new world revealed, as places were pointed out, stories were told and young children stared openly at us. Lunch, was the expected fare in a traditional restaurant but the decor was beautiful and the food was accompanied by enthusiastic musicians. Afterwards we walked through the market and I did my best to look at, while not pretending to look at, the water sellers and the women who sat on the kerb selling oranges. Most interesting for me, were the stories of writers and artists who frequented Tangiers.

Of course we had the obligatory carpet shop and apothecary visit but the whole thing was conducted with grace and good humour. Eventually, most people got back in the coach and the guide took us and the one other couple who was staying to a hotel in the centre. We were now free to explore ourselves and wandered up to the Place de France and enjoyed the views down to the harbour. Later, we had dinner and entertainment in the night-scented gardens behind the hotel and went to bed filed with happiness and excitement. At dawn I was woken by the call to prayer and had one of those travel 'moments' looking out at the early morning activity on the street. That morning we went down to the beach and did some more exploring and in the late afternoon caught a ferry back to Gibraltar. For us and for our young son, it was a taste of something very new and exotic and an adventue we've looked back on with great affection.

... but this one was just dreadful

After that initial foray into Morocco we subsequently visited Agadir and Marrakesh and were easily seduced by arid landscapes and exotic surroundings. Last year on the costa Del Sol, I toyed with the idea of going to Tangiers and eventually could not resist the opportunity to tap into that magic again even if just for a day. My husband was quite keen as well so we got up at 5 in the morning, caught the bus and headed off expectantly. Our expectations did not last long however as very early inthe day we realised that we were in for a dose of tourist hell. Apt punishmnet perhaps for those who opt to cross the straits of Gibraltar and inflict themselves in their thousands upon Tangiers BUT it doesn't have to be like this. The previous trip was completely influenced by the guide who treated his customers with respect and not like a load of cattle he had to put up with for the day. On this occasion we had a bored, laconic young Moroccan man, in love with himself and the sound of his own voice. Though obviously well educated and with flawless English, he gave absolutely no information of any worth and passed by the more interesting sights without so much as a nod. Instead rambled on and on in some inane commentary mostly to do with himself and the time he'd spent in America but occasionally some trivia, like who lived in what big house was offered as food for thought. Despite him we did enjoy the trip into the countryside but the lunch and walk round the Medina was an absolute travesty.

Ask questions and read the itinerary carefully

Anybody who's on the Costa del Sol and would like to go to Tangiers should certainly do so. It can be a really rewarding and stimulating day and for many people it will possibly be the only chance they get to sample a little of the mystery and magic of Morocco. In the right hands you can have this but shop around and see what's included in the trip. If you are told , for example, that the day includes the 'authentic ' experience of eating in a tent like the Berber people, run as fast as you can. Unfortunately, I was caught, hook, line and sinker, in what must possibly be the worst day trip to Tangiers offered by any company.Hopefully you will do better.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Can be heaven...
  • Cons:.... or can be hell
  • In a nutshell:Ask some questions before you book a trip
  • Last visit to Tangier: Apr 2007
  • Intro Updated Jul 21, 2008
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Comments (4)

  • angiebabe's Profile Photo
    Oct 15, 2008 at 3:28 AM

    Hi Katherine - Morocco became a second home for me and I still love the place - whats blessings Ive had there - hope you will get to visit and enjoy what is there so far amongst my pages on my beloved Morocco!Nice to see yrs here too thanks. x

  • evaanna's Profile Photo
    May 8, 2008 at 2:41 PM

    Fascinating introduction to Tangiers. Looking forward to more advice on how to distinguish a great trip from crap.

  • adelaidean's Profile Photo
    Apr 16, 2008 at 3:12 PM

    I love your honesty on this page. Says it like it was!

  • starship's Profile Photo
    Apr 15, 2008 at 7:02 AM

    I really enjoyed your introduction to Tangier! I know how a good guide can make or break the trip & color the whole experience. It's a country I'd like to visit but I have not heard great things about Tangier itself.


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