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Tangier Travel Blog

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All Change At Sidi Kacem

There is always going to be one blip in any travel plans. This was always going to be a day of travelling to get to our end destination of Ceuta, and having got in and seen about Fes we were free to set off early. Had thought about getting the bus, but trains are more comfortable and we had time on our side, or so we thought. There is only one direct train a day from Fes to Tanger, at about 1pm and not getting into Tanger until 6-45pm, so we would have to change at Sidi Kacem. 

 

For once nobody had set an alarm :-O and we ended up waking an hour later than intended. had checked out the trains the day before and we still could make it, just there was no room for delays. Luckily for us it all went like clockwork.

Train back through Meknes, to Sidi Kacem, and we only had 10 minutes before the train to tanger came in.

Assilah Staion
Bit close for my liking, but we made it none the less . Unlike leaving Casablanca the 2nd class was fine, with plenty of room on the train. Most of the time was spent readin or listening to music, it was only when we got to Ksar-El-Kebir, that things became a bit iffy. That 6th sense kicked in knowing something wasn't right.

BetweenSouk Arbaa El Gharb there had been about three young boys going up and down the train trying to sell stuff, at first we thought they would pull the emergency cord or bail at the first level crossing or something, but thye stayed on until Ksar-El-Kebir.  They weren't a problem at all though.

At Ksar-El-Kebir they got off and we saw them on the other platform waiting for a train back the way. However a group of about 15 young guys got on, and wandered up and down the train.

Holiday Tents at Assilah
Soon, from their interactions we realised there were more of them than that, and some of them were a lot older. Looked like a Dickensian gang with the Srtful Dodger pulling the strings. All the time these guys were on the move, and eventually we said to our daughter to put her iPod away somewhere safe. Just a feel that something wasn't right.

Fortunately, when we worked it out, there was nothing to worry about. It was a public holiday to celebrate the Kings anniverary and they were all heading for the beach at Asilah. What they were doing was dodging their fared by walking about and down and passing the tickets back as the ticket inspectors moved through the carriages. Ended up with 3 ticket collectors rounding up all the suspects and pushing them into the last carriage to sort out who actaully had tickets.

More Tents
Still at Asilah a few of them must have got away with it and could be seen jumping the walls to get out of the station.

Still, better to be safe than sorry, and quite pleased even to have picked up on it so early.

An unremarkable journey into Tanger after that. Getting off in Tanger we went down to the front and had a look about. it wasn't our intention to stay here, having chosen Ceuta as an exit from Morocco. were sitting in a cafe down by the beach when all of a sudden five planes flew low overhead and proceeded to do and airshow over the beach.

Knew the trains didn't go any further, so found the CTM bus station looking to get a bus to Fnideq, the town on the Moroccan side of the border with Ceuta, only to find there were no buses.

Salt Flats
There was no route full stop, and the only way to get there was by taxi. In 'The Big Plan' this was always going to be the option of last resort...... not the first. By the time we got back to the station there was no sign of any taxis either, there were no trains due in or out for some  3 hours, so   we had to head onto the street to tey and hail one.

The first one that stopped drove off as soon as we mentioned the destination, and a few doubts started to creep in. The second one that pulled in quoted us 600 Dirham so,  given we were pretty well stuffed, agreed. It was only once we were on the road and saw the signs that we realised I ( emphasis on I ) had seriously underestimated the distance to Ceuta( they look right next to each other on the map).

Dried out salt flars

Driver took the coast road, rather than the motorway, and it was a really nice drive, though he did spook us by doing a sharp U-turn, only for us to realise he had lost a hub cap and was going back to pick it up . Driver was keen to talk,finding out whre we'd been and telling us about Tanger and the road we were going out. Again most of the talking was done through my daughter, though as we had gone through Morocco she was growing in confidence speaking in French ( good parenting skills me thinks ;-)  )

We passed the Port Mediterranean(Tanger) which the driver said was the busiest commercial post in Africa, who were we to argue. Past the Moroccan side of the Pillars Of Hecules and down to the border where the taxi dropped us off. A lot of hustlers trying to give us the equivalant of landing cards and pens, no doubt looking for some remuneration,but we ignored them.

Tanger Station
Headed into the border control, with Moroccan police checking passports at a barrier. Once inside the border zone we tried to get out, only to be sent back across through the cars to get an exit stamp on our passports.

Really busy place for cars crossing and the queue had been up the road when the taxi dropped us off. Oppositely very little foot traffic and we strolled into Spain with just a cursory glance at our passports and having our bags scanned.  That was us back in Europe, but still in Africa, part of what had intrigued me about Ceuta. The significance of this may,or may not, be lost on those form further afield, as Spain is always objjectin to the British presence in Gibraltar, I hadn't even heard of Ceuta, nor Mellina 100km further east, that Spain still holds onto in Morocco 

 

nathanphil says:
Morocco often can feel a bit more dangerous than it really is...
Posted on: Aug 22, 2009
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All Change At Sidi Kacem
All Change At Sidi Kacem
Assilah Staion
Assilah Staion
Holiday Tents at Assilah
Holiday Tents at Assilah
More Tents
More Tents
Salt Flats
Salt Flats
Dried out salt flars
Dried out salt flars
Tanger Station
Tanger Station
Tanger and hills of Spain
Tanger and hills of Spain
Tanger beach and port
Tanger beach and port
Airshow in Tanger
Airshow in Tanger
Port Tanger( Mediterranean)
Port Tanger( Mediterranean)
Pillars Of hercules
Pillars Of hercules
Ceuta from across the border
Ceuta from across the border
Moroccan Checkpoint
Moroccan Checkpoint
Spanish Checkpoint
Spanish Checkpoint
Footpath into Ceuta
Footpath into Ceuta
Nearly back in Spain
Nearly back in Spain
Tangier
photo by: idiosyncraticJRNYS