Arriving in Tangier from Spain, gave a completely different perspective on the Mediterranean coast from the Eastern end...

Travelling through Morocco on a Property Quest-Travel Diary part 2– a single Western woman in Morocco

Riad Tanja Bedroom viewThere had been a big build up to Tangier. I had read lots about it before going. Travelling on my own, I felt I ought to be fully prepared. So having read about the hustle and bustle at the port, I was a bit apprehensive, especially as I was laden with a large case.

I had tried to hire a car in Spain and take it across on the ferry to Tangier, so I could explore more easily, but alas insurance restrictions would not allow it, so I had to park at Tarifa, Spain and go as a foot passenger. There were of course plenty of “volunteers” ready to help with directions to Riads and hotels and to carry heavy bags for 10-20 dirhams. However having prepared myself, I reckoned the safest bet was to get someone sent from the Riad, whoTangier alleyway knew the way, to meet me.

For the fresh European it is quite difficult to comprehend that a street or road may not actually be marked on the map, such are the intricacies of the network of alleyways and side streets of a medina (old Town). This sometimes necessitates using a guide, or seeking guidance from the locals, (easier if you speak Arabic or French, or in parts Spanish)

I had started chatting to someone as the ferry docked and found the exit less troublesome than I had imagined. Tangier was nevertheless an assault on the senses, full of life and activity. Market stalls everywhere, in squares, on corners, under cover. It looks tired and crumbly in places, buildings crying out for renovation and a coat of a paint, but still full of charm and history.

Tangier Olive StallI was geared up for cheap food and shopping. However, for this it is best to eat more where the locals do, to get value for money. The more cosmopolitan the restaurant looked, the more likely the prices would be international. Eating in the more basic-looking restaurants, delivered more of the authentic Moroccan experience, at local prices. I certainly took to the “tajines”, the local stews, cooked in conicle shaped, lidded pots, often prepared early in the morning for consumption that evening.

The local life reflected the “paysan” nature of many of the inhabitants and their way of life, with market stalls dedicated simply to selling mint, for the tea.

Some of the other visitors gave the impression they had been caught in a 1960s time warp, all laid back, friendly and happy to show the way, if you happened to over shoot the tiny alley way that led to the front door of your Riad.

Coastal Property Morocco - Mediterranean and Atlantic

The Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts are easily accessible from Tangier, sitting on the corner of both. The State and Developers are starting to take advantage of this wonderful coastline asset. New modern, fast roads, seemingly spring up overnight, making journeys quicker and the transition from city centre, to beach centre, easier.

Alcudia Smir beach promenadeAt this end of the coastline, resorts like Alcudia Smir have a smaller feel compared with the Saidia end of the Mediterranean coast, where the scale and ambition of a “Plan Azur” development is evident. The Tangier end of the coastline has the presLixus archwaytige of the King’s Summer residence near Mdiq (apparently along with the fish restaurant he eats in).

South of Tangier the coastline is more rugged and dramatic, off the Atlantic, leading to scenic towns of character like Asilah.

Accessing this part of the coastline is easier, with flights to Tangier and numerous ferry crossings from Spain to Cueta (Sebta-Moroccan name), which has a more salubrious crossing than that from Spanish enclave Melilla, at the Eastern end of the Mediterranean coast.

As Morocco becomes more established as a hot holiday destination and place to have a holiday home, access is set to become easier. With the coastal development part of King Mohammed VI’s 2010 Vision, it is only a matter of time.

Louise Reynolds
Property Venture®

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