Tuesday, we spent the morning finishing up and getting out of our apartment. I spent most of my time trying to steam dry our laundry in front of the space heater. Three days of torrential rain meant that everything was still really damp, and I wasn’t looking forward to dealing with clothes mouldering in suitcases.
We left Rabat about 1 p.m. and went as far as Kenitra that first night, where we stayed with friends. Yesterday morning, we caught the train at 8:17 a.m. and headed north to Tangiers.
The day alternated between cold, gray skies and scudding rain, and brilliant sunshine and steaming sidewalks. We drove through the Moroccan countryside, full of green rolling hills, orchards of ripening oranges, and small ragged herds of sheep or cows usually followed by a shepherd and often a sheepdog. One shepherd had brought his herd to a green meadow, where he’d set up a plastic lawn chair and was relaxing in style. Children waved as we roared past. We had opted for a first-class compartment and after a short while, had it to ourselves.
We got into Tangiers about 1 and made our way out of the tiled train station onto the street, where we bargained with a “grande taxi” to take all of us to the port. Elliot scoured the Tangiers skyline in hope of recognizing a landmark from “The Bourne Ultimatum.“ We sorted through the chaos of wannabe porters and guides and bought tickets on the fast ferry to Tarifa. In an amazingly short time (compared to our last experience with this port, which I will tell you about some other time), we had boarded an enormous ferry and found seats.
The crossing only takes 35 minutes. You can see Spain in the distance as you head out. The twins had a blast running about on deck, dancing with excitement as we watched the plume of spray obscure our view of the house-covered hills of Tangiers. Soon we were docking.
We wandered out of the port, dragging our cases, and found a map of Tarifa posted outside a tourist information area. Our hotel was close, so we walked up cobbled streets and through narrow, hilly alleys to find it.
Tarifa is small and charming. After checking in, we made our way to the ancient city, entering through a stone archway to an area of alleyways and plazas and churches and shrines.
Entrance to old city
Square in old city
Shrine in old city
We walked around, getting an idea of the plan of the city. We were late for lunch (Spain is an hour later than Morocco, so by this time it was 5:30 or so) but early for dinner, so we bought rolls and pretzels at an artisan bakery and munched them as we wandered a more modern area, filled with surf shops and jewellery stores.
This statue is located on the edge of the old city, just across from the port.
Tarifa is on the southernmost tip of Spain. The blue sparkling water on the west is the Atlantic, on the east the Mediterranean, and the mountains of Morocco are easily visible across the Straits of Gibraltar. It’s known as the Wind Capital of Spain, and the green hills just beyond town are full of windmills. It also has miles of gorgeous sandy beaches, and when the ferry was coming in, we saw lots of multi-coloured kite surfers.
The view from the hotel window at sunset
A few hours later, we ventured out again in search of supper. We found a place advertising “Tex-Mex” and tapas, in a square in the old town where children rode bikes and kicked a football in the night.
After some great food, we walked around some more, then headed back up to our hotel for the night.
Back side of cathedral (or possibly just large church) with the moon.