Tangier (Cruise 2008 pt 4) - Andrew, Jacqui, their Mums & her Aunt and Uncle - 2008
Mystical Morocco has drawn western travellers for centuries. The top destination being the magical city of Marrakech. Other destinations in the country whose names bring to mind pure exoticism include Fes, Casablanca and Tangier.
The capital, Rabat, is forgotten amongst these hard hitters. The other great draw is the Desert and the Atlas Mountains, two of Morocco's many natural draws.
Tangier - Cruise 2008 Part Four - Andrew, Jacqui, their Mums & her Aunt and Uncle - 2008
The most exotic stop on the Brilliance of the Seas cruise was Tangier in Morocco. When we were at breakfast, however, announcements went out that the tenders were struggling in the choppy seas and that people might want to consider not going ashore. Wed noticed the previous night all the cash machines aboard had stopped working and we wondered whether the Crew were merely trying to hint to people not to go to Morocco.
After a while deliberating we decided to give it a go if we were sea sick, then so be it! In actual fact, although very bumpy, the journey out to the little jetty was not too bad at all and so I stepped foot in the continent of Africa for the first time.
Immediately we got beyond the secluded port area we were assailed by men (dressed in traditional Moroccan clothing) offering to show us around. Something along these lines had been expected and we all politely refused, even though they followed us right up to the doors of the shuttle bus which would take us into town.
The bus passed along the sea front before turning up the hill and depositing us on a fairly non-descript street a short way from the Old Town. Here those very same men miraculously rematerialised and began to pester us once more, offering to show us the sights. One guy in particular started to really bug me, he kept telling me about the history of the town and I kept repeating to him over and over that I was not listening and thus he could not charge me anything. I then tried ignoring him, deliberately turning my back on him. In the end Jacqui lost her patience and told him loudly and in no uncertain terms to go away. He looked offended and sloped off, although he still shadowed us but from the other side of the road.
All of this immediately put us on our guard and we no longer felt safe or comfortable throughout the rest of our time in Tangier.
Somewhere just before the Souk we finally lost our shadow guide. I had read that the Souk was a magical warren of markets and alleys full of the sights and smells of exotic Morocco. What we found didnt come close. Not even slightly.
The Market we initially encountered did not have wonderful barrels of aromatic spices, but rather sorry looking bowls of fruits and vegetables all of which looked like they had seen better days. Sullen and uninterested men sat behind the stalls glaring at us as we passed. Okay, I thought, perhaps we needed to enter the kasbah itself the walled part of the Souk. We stepped through one of the almost hidden ornate arches and found ourselves in a narrow, dark corridor full of stalls selling junk and tat. We walked a few metres in one direction, turned around, walked a few metres in the other and then decided enough was enough.
We left the Souk and the Market and retraced our steps feeling the need to get away from Tangier quickly.
Respite was had when we emerged onto a small square with a fine view down across town to the sea (and our beloved Brilliance out in the waters of the Atlantic). For just about the only time in Morocco we began to feel a little less on our guard. People here seemed to be interested in relaxing and chatting, not fleecing passing foreigners or lurking around looking furtive. We took a few photos, admired the view and then wandered back towards where the coach was due to collect us. A bit of souvenir shopping and then we were back on the coach and back to the Port.
Our brief encounter with Africa had not been a good one. We had felt hassled and threatened throughout, never at our ease and certainly saw no sign of the famous Moroccan friendliness I had read about. It was more like Moroccan avarice give me your money you foreign fool is the message I took from Tangier.
Looking back on the City from the Brilliance of the Seas, it looked serene and attractive. Mellow off-white buildings surrounded by the Medina walls, tumbling idly down towards the sea, fringed by long yellow sands. A fisherman pulling in his catch, silhouetted against the glistening waves. How deceptive.
Perhaps Morocco has more to offer the traveller than hassle and concern, but I would heartily not recommend Tangier as a first port of call in this country.
That evening was formal night on the Brilliance of the Seas, so we all dressed up in our posh frocks, met the Captain and had a generally good time. The cash machines were miraculously working once again and the boat headed off through the Pillars of Hercules and into the Mediterranean Sea towards our next destination the mysterious island of Corsica.
Go to Cruise 2008 Part Five - Ajaccio, Corsica, France
Back to Africa
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