Rockin' the kasbah in Morocco
It was still quite windy when our ferry for Morocco departed from Algeciras. It was actually pretty hard to stand up outside for fear of being blown over, but nothing was going to keep us from catching a glimpse of Africa. At the narrowest point, there is only 14km of water separating Europe from Africa, but once you arrive, it feels as if you have stepped into a completely different world.
It is one of the few places on this trip where Joel and I have experienced anything like culture shock. On our first afternoon there, we had a little wander around to get our bearings and then spent some quality sun time by the pool with a few beers. Our plan was to go out and find a little café where we could sit and watch the world go by with some dinner and a few more ice cold beers. As we were walking around we noticed two strange things: there were only men sitting in the restaurants and nobody was drinking alcohol. I mean nobody. Come to find out, you are not allowed to drink alcohol outside. So we decided to follow suit and have a few days with no booze.
Like many places, Tangiers is full of people that just want to make some money from tourists. “Come look my shop.””Where you go? I guide.” “Give me money.” “You want ferry tickets?” “Hashish?” It certainly made venturing outside of the hotel a little annoying at times. One of the most interesting parts of the city is called the Medina. It is comprised of winding cobblestoned streets (well, paths really) and lots of little shops and markets. It was, unfortunately, in here where the hasslers were at their worst. People in your face coupled with extreme heat can make for a very cranky excursion.
We did break down and procure the service of guide one day and it was one of the most enjoyable outings that we had in the city. When you have a local with you other touts/ salespeople tended to leave you alone. We also learned quite a lot of interesting information from this guy. We had been looking for the Kasbah for 3 days by this point, which we assumed was a fort or palace of some sort. Our guide told us that we were very poorly informed. We had been walking through the Kasbah all along without knowing it. It is a large walled in part of the city, where the rich could hide out if the city were ever attacked. He led us to the Sultan’s palace, which was a lovely little oasis amid the chaos of the Medina.
Every day, after a wander around the city, we would end up sitting in a little café and having a glass of Moroccan whiskey. I mean mint tea. It was at these little respites from touristing that we saw some very interesting happenings. We saw a group of old men almost get into a fight. It was very animated, but in slow mo. They were arguing and throwing glasses of tea on the ground, which ended in one guy leaving. I really wish I could understand Arabic to find out what they were arguing about.
The next day was slightly more disturbing. We were just about to get up from our tea and head home, when a woman came screaming through the centre of the square. She was yelling at the top of her lungs and she looked angry. At this point, I noticed the massive knife that she was brandishing in her blood soaked hands. She went up to one man and waved the knife in his face, flinging blood about and screaming at the top of her voice. She eventually stormed off. Still not really sure what was going on there.
Apart from our rambling through the town, we used this as an opportunity to lounge about by the hotel pool. After Morocco, we aren’t going to get any pool time until we get to the Philippines in October. We were going to spend some time on the beach in Tangiers, which is massive and looks quite nice, but we were a little concerned for our health. We went for a walk along the beach one day and saw a drainage creek heading out into the ocean, but the water was a very rich magenta colour. No thank you.
So all up, it might sound like we didn’t have to great of a time in Morocco. Am I glad we went? Yes. Would I go back to Tangiers? No. I would love to explore other parts of Morocco that have a little bit more to offer. We are thinking our next trip will be to Marrakesh, Casablanca and Fez.
We left Morocco to head back to Spain and then onto Italy. We took the ferry over to Tarifa and then caught the train to Madrid. We had to stop in Madrid for the night, which was perfect timing as it was Aidan’s birthday party.
The next day, we caught a train to Barcelona where we were going to connect with our overnight train to Milan. We were super excited about the train. Thanks again to us having to purchase old people rail passes, we had a private first class cabin. Joel was expecting luxurious robes, chocolates on the pillows and a private Jacuzzi. It wasn’t quite that first class, but it was nice all the same.
We set off on time and everything was going great until we stopped at a little town called Girona for an inordinate amount of time. It was getting late so we asked the attendant if he could turn our beds down. He said that he couldn’t because he didn’t know if he could because of the fire. Huh? We eventually got under way again, but in the wrong direction. Our attendant eventually came back and turned down our beds. We went to sleep just when we arrived back at Barcelona station. We assumed that we would start out again sometime during the night.
We woke up and we were still in Barcelona. The attendant eventually came by and said that we had to be off of the train by 8:30 and that this train would not be going today. That’s it. No explanation. Nothing. When we got off, we were able to gather a little more information on our situation. Apparently, there are massive forest fires raging in the north of Spain, which have affectively cut the Iberian peninsula off from the rest of Europe.
We waited in line for almost three hours trying to book a ticket out of Spain. The earliest we could get out of Spain would be in 2 days and we could only get to Paris. That was not going to work for us. We just decided to fly. We found flights for $100 each to Milan and we were off to the airport.
Next stop Italia!