Saturday, 3 February 2018

Tangier, Morocco (Tangier Hilton)

I’m loving this hotel. Had a good night’s sleep. At breakfast I took a picture of the Mediterranean and of my breakfast.

After breakfast I went down to the lobby and met the driver who will take me around the city for the next four hours. While Tangiers isn’t a super large city, it isn’t easy to walk around because of the number of times you need to cross traffic. And with limited pedestrian signals, you have to carefully make your way across traffic when you need to cross a street. I try to cross with women and children who seem to get the most respect from the drivers.

While driving along and talking with the driver I realize that he can’t speak much English. No matter, I thought, we’ll make it work. Then, after a few minutes, he says we are picking up a guide to go with us today. What? I just paid for only a driver and not a driver and a guide. (This “surprise” happened to me in Egypt last year.) As the guide got into the car I explained that I only paid for a driver and he seemed to okay with it. So off we went.

The guide gave me a brief history of Morocco and Tangiers. I hadn’t realized how many countries had “conquered” Morocco over the years. Phoenicians, Romans, Byzantine, Muslims, Spain, French, etc. – and the list goes on. French remains the second language of Morocco and is currently ruled by a Moroccan King.

The driver took us up through what the guide called the “Beverly Hills” of Tangiers, with many estates owned by wealthy Moroccans, various Middle Easterners, and some former well-known people like Yves Saint Laurent and Malcolm Forbes. We also passed the home of the King who visits Tangiers regularly.

We drove through the Mediouna forest which had a widespread fire last July and you could see the extent of the fire as we neared the Atlantic coastline. The weather, while sunny, was in the high 50’s so very few people on the beach.

We were driving towards the Caves of Hercules. The caves are part natural and part man-made. The Phoenicians and the Berber people were the first people to inhabit the caves and made stone wheels for millstones from the limestone walls. When we got to the caves, the guide paid another guide to walk me through the caves.

I took a picture of an interesting plant that I saw outside the caves. Looks like something Morticia Addams (Addams Family) would have in her garden.

The guide showed me the famous opening of the caves to the ocean and the outline of the opening (if seeing from the ocean) looks like Africa. I was thinking later on how would these early people knew what the shape of Africa looked like so many years ago. Very few, if any, maps existed back then. But there was the opening and the guide made several references to it as we walked around the cave. There are several legends regarding Hercules and this cave, hence the name of the caves. It was an interesting tour and took a number of pictures while I was there.

You can see where the millstones were cut from the cave’s walls.

From the caves we drove up to a lighthouse that have provided strategic views of the coastline and the entry to the Mediterranean Sea. (This gateway is still staffed by guards who continue to keep watch.) The guide paid a fee to have the gates to the lighthouse opened for us to get the best views. I could definitely live up here with this view.

We then returned to the city and walked around the Casbah or Kas’bah. This area was once the fortress (citadel) of the city. We walked along some of the remaining walls and I ran into someone from Portland! He was a concierge of the Ladd Apartments where I stayed during and after the sale of my condo. We talked frequently as I came and went through the building’s lobby. He remembered that I was going on an extended trip to Europe. After we talked for a bit and I had to move to for the rest of my tour. What a small world.

I took pictures of the remains of the walls around the former citadel.

Also of some cats that were wandering around the area.

View of the Port of Tangiers, but not the port that handles the shipping containers:

The guide took me through the nearby market area for fruits and vegetables and another building where other items for sale. There was one place with various ceramics was very interesting with hundreds of items for sale. The guide kept talking about the argan oil sold in Tangiers. I’d never heard of it, but from what I gathered, many tourists ask for it. Its used for cosmetic and culinary purposes. Like coconut oil I guess. While I waited for him in the pharmacy I took a picture of a sign in the pharmacy lobby.

Various pictures taken while walking around this part of the city.

The four-hour tour went by quickly and the guide said that I had pretty much seen the highlights of Tangiers as we parted ways.

I took my afternoon nap and was hungry. On the way back to the hotel earlier I had seen a nearby McDonald’s, so walked there and ordered just one cheeseburger for a snack and a Chicken Caesar Salad to have later.

Later, after eating the Caesar Salad, I was getting tired and went to bed at around 10:00.

Tomorrow, I will visit Asilah – an old fortified city that has retained its 15th-century rampart and gates. It is about an hour drive from Tangier and have engaged a driver, via the hotel’s concierge, to drive me there. Will be interesting to see more of the countryside outside of Tangiers along the way.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *