Sunday, 4 February 2018

Tangier, Morocco (Tangier Hilton)

Woke up to rain, so I guess the forecast was correct for today. After breakfast I still plan to tour Asilah (or Assilah) starting at 11:00 a.m. I’m from Oregon and a little rain doesn’t bother me. Before leaving I decided to wear my waterproof boots in case of rain in Asilah.

My driver, Nezar, was ready and waiting for me at 11:00 a.m. His English was minimal, but I knew I could work around it. I confirmed that we wouldn’t have a guide with us as we headed toward Asilah.

The drive was expected to take about an hour, mainly due to the traffic in Tangier. And we arrived in Asilah at about noon. As soon as we parked and got out of the car we were approached by someone in the parking lot who offered his services as a guide. I asked Nezar to tell him we will not need one. I got the impression that the guide was not necessarily happy since I heard him say something about “American” as we walked away. No matter, Nezar has been here many times before and can lead me around.

I’ve been in these types of walled cities before. Essentially what you have is a citadel or fortress which protects the city. The official name of this citadel is: “Medina D’Assilah“. This fortress was built in the 15th-century by colonial Portuguese.  Asilah is noteworthy because of how well preserved and intact it is. Also, known for many murals and resident artisans. We we walked along the narrow streets (no cars are allowed) and along the fortress walls. The homes are mainly whitewashed with mostly blue accents on the walls and doors. I took a number of pictures as we zigzagged through the streets.

Layout of Asilah

Outside the Walls

Inside the Walls (Streets, Walls and Doorways)

City Wall Art 

Artisan Shop

After about 45 minutes of walking around we both agreed that the tour was over. I asked if he was hungry and could he find the best place to have a meal of fish. He knew just the place and I followed. Just as we approached the restaurant it started to rain – and not a shower, but a downpour. Great timing!

We were pretty much the only ones in the restaurant so we found a place on the upper floor that had a good view of the ocean. Now, what to select from the menu. I saw clams, a dish that featured a selection of fresh fish. Nezar also ordered the same variety of fish dish. I also asked for some tea.

While we waited for our lunch to arrive, I showed him other walled cities I had visited. Also pictures of how some of these places can get crowded with people. He especially liked Venice and Dubrovnik. I also showed him Portland and Hood River. These smart phones are really helpful to exchange information between people who may not speak the same language.

First to arrive at our table was some sort of spicy dip and slices of bread. Nezar showed me how to grab some of the dip with the bread. It was very tasty and not too spicy. Next were the clams in their shell and served in the broth that they were cooked in. I asked Nezer if I could dip the bread in the sauce and he shook his head – so I didn’t. Then the fish selection showed up and I wondered how I was going to eat everything on the plate. But I did. Nezar ate mostly with his fingers, and me, I used mainly a knife and fork. Everything tasted very fresh and the taste was flavorful, not spicy and definitely not bland. I was stuffed by the time we finished. By the time I was finished eating the tea cooled down enough to drink. The mint in the tea was a perfect finish to the meal. No need for dessert.

On the return trip to Tangiers I was very tired and looked forward to my afternoon nap. I was very impressed with the driver who received a few calls and texts but did not answer them. Rarely does any driver anywhere do this. I was sure to let the concierge staff at the hotel know that I appreciated his professional manner. And I tipped him well to show my appreciation.

I had several emails to respond to and phone calls to make after I woke from my nap. I wasn’t really hungry until 9:00 so ordered a ceasar salad for dinner. Shortly afterward I went to bed.

While I was talking with the concierge earlier, he wrote up the instructions to get to the ferry and then from the ferry to Gibraltar. Not sure if I will do tomorrow or the next day. I’ll decide when I wake up in the morning.




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