a ferry ride to Africa- Tangier in Morocco

Tangier Travel Blog

 › entry 20 of 42 › view all entries
interior of the ferry, very nice seats

After a leisurely breakfast of bread, ham, salami, tea and coffee at the hotel´s location downtown in Tarifa, we went to the port to take the FRS ferry with the dolphin on its side claiming 35 minutes from Tarifa to Tanger to go to Africa! A round trip ticket is 66 euros. It´s a large catamaran with room for cars, and a couple of decks for passengers. The seatings are quite comfortable, more like train and tour bus seats, and some seats around small tables. They also have a business class, but nobody was in there. When we got onboard, there was a line of people, we found out that was for getting the entry stamp for Morocco. We waited a while til the ferry departed and the line became short to get our stamp on our passports. They gave us a form to fill out for the exit stamp, which we kept with our passports until we left Tangier later in the day.

Arriving in Tangier, off the ferry
The ferry also has a duty free shop and a tobacco shop, the bathrooms are also pretty nice. All in all, a very nice ferry, except I did get a little seasick. The ferry is scheduled every 2 hours, and as read elsewhere, was not exactly on time on the dot.

Africa is really not that far away from Tarifa. Although Tangier is not the closest point across from Tarifa, it is only 14.5km away. As we got off the ferry, we were the last people. Most seemed to be in tour groups, and we were on our own. Some tour guide tried to talk us into a tour, however, he was a little confused about what timezone he was in or Spain was in, so I decided he was not to be our guide. A little later, another tour guide approached us, and he had his facts correct. Spain was now on daylight saving time, and was 2 hours later than Tangier.

me and our ferry
This man Abdul was about 75 years old and had been a tour guide for a long time, and his English was decent, so we said OK. In reading our tour book by Rick Steves, he said without a guide here you would be like horse´s tail to flies all day to the street guides... Anyway, off with Abdul we went. Uphill, along the remains of the old city wall, where homes have been built right into the old walls. First stop was the fish market, it was a bustling place with lots of fish and other sea creatures for sale. There were quite a variety. Abdul pointed out the fishing boats in the harbor when we left the port, and said they go out at night to fish, and come back before morning.  Then we went through the old market, with stalls for various goods. We stopped at a stall which sells very pretty olives, some marinated with flowers it seemed.
going into old town Tangier
Kevin bought a few to take with. It´s a colorful place, and a great one for photographers. Abdul said that some people like to have their photos taken, others don´t, and just take photos quick! That´s different than what I have learned in Turkey and elsewhere, which was to ask them first, if they said no, no big deal, there would be others who would say yes. In any case, some merchants were quite happy to have me take their photos in the fish market and old market.

We walked to the grand socco, a square outside the walls of the old town, and there was the court house, where lawyers and people were standing around waiting for their court time. A hugh banyan tree stood in the courtyard. Uphill were 3 marble enscripted tablets which were something like Morocco´s declaration of independence.

edge of old town, with the new, modern city beyond
Nearby was also a mosque, and along the sides were entrances to the medina, the old town. We went into the medina, the old town, many twisty, narrow streets, up and sideways, and walked past, for example, a small internet cafe, well, that´s an overstatement, the guy called out Hello as we walked by, so I poked my head in, it was a very small space, maybe 4 to 5 feet deep and 10 feet wide, with small tables, it was pretty dark, there were at least 4 crt´s and computers. I asked if they can get on the internet there, and one man said yes. I did not try to use any there.

There were these very interesting, colorfull thread stores, and we found men stringing threads along the walls down the street like 50 feet away, tying one end on a point on the wall.

going to old town
They were twisting and weaving these threads to make buttons and borders on their kaftans. There were so many color threads because they had to match the color of the kaftans! They would string these threads right across doorways of homes or shops along the street. I suppose the people know enough to not walk right through them!

Along the way, Abdul would greet or talk to people, it would seem like they knew him, probably because he walks this way every day or so. Sounded like he was telling them these were Americans. A couple of the men he met would tell us, ¨good man¨, pointing to Abdul! He did take us to a kraft store and upstairs we were greeted by a rug sales pitch along with some mint tea. I sorted want to check out if rug salesman in Morocco were the same as in Turkey, in India, or in China.

building made use of the old city wall
And it turned out that they were remarkably similar, maybe they all went to the same sales school. But it was not a very hard sell, and we didn´t buy anything.

We also were taken to a store which sells herbs, medicine etc, and we got a small bottle of massage oil. We should have paid the local currency, but weren´t thinking at the time. Kevin changed a $20, so we did have some money to buy local stuff, but the herb store took Euroes.

We walked all the way up to the Kasbah, and went through a broken wall to the lookout point, where we could see the port below, which didn´t look very far! There was an old prison there, and another home was built into the old wall. On the way down, we stopped to get some almond cookies. They were pretty tasty, and I hope they were not visited too much by the flies! (no, we didn´t get sick, so they were probably OK)

The guide fee was 15 euroes each, and he asked for a tip! hmm, and I thought 15 euroes were a good pay for the guide.

narrow streets of Tangier
But anyway, it was a fine tour, and we didn´t feel like we were pestered or targeted as tourists. We did not even see any snake charmers or camels rides. A positive experience. We ended with a cup of OJ and coffee to finish our local currency sitting at one of the many cafes on the plaza near the port.

The return ferry was also a bit bumpy and I tried to sleep my way through it. On both sides they had x ray machines to scan luggage as people LEAVE, which was kind of weird and useless, it was more of a formality and habit I think, not for the safety of the ferry.

Anyway, I would recommend this short hop to Africa if you are in this part of Spain and have not been to Africa. Now Kevin can mark off his last continent. If only travbuddy had an award for that...

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interior of the ferry, very nice s…
interior of the ferry, very nice …
Arriving in Tangier, off the ferry
Arriving in Tangier, off the ferry
me and our ferry
me and our ferry
going into old town Tangier
going into old town Tangier
edge of old town, with the new, mo…
edge of old town, with the new, m…
going to old town
going to old town
building made use of the old city …
building made use of the old city…
narrow streets of Tangier
narrow streets of Tangier
a bread vendor
a bread vendor
old wall and buildings on top of it
old wall and buildings on top of it
lively fish market
lively fish market
lively fish market
lively fish market
lively fish market
lively fish market
lively fish market
lively fish market
lively fish market
lively fish market
lively fish market, do you see the…
lively fish market, do you see th…
lively fish market
lively fish market
showing me a live shrimp in the fi…
showing me a live shrimp in the f…
a spice vendor
a spice vendor
goat head, I suppose!
goat head, I suppose!
olive vendor
olive vendor
woman selling vegetables in the ma…
woman selling vegetables in the m…
olive vendor
olive vendor
in the market
in the market
in the market
in the market
Bedouin women selling vegetables i…
Bedouin women selling vegetables …
Bedouin women selling vegetables i…
Bedouin women selling vegetables …
Bedouin women selling vegetables i…
Bedouin women selling vegetables …
breads for sale
breads for sale
fountain in the Grand Socco
fountain in the Grand Socco
old (and short) lady being helped …
old (and short) lady being helped…
near the court house
near the court house
monument above the court house
monument above the court house
old canon near the monument
old canon near the monument
old European style buildings
old European style buildings
narrow streets crammed with vendors
narrow streets crammed with vendors
a narrow street in the old town
a narrow street in the old town
we were taken to a carpet store, t…
we were taken to a carpet store, …
a small square in the old town
a small square in the old town
woman selling spices on the street
woman selling spices on the street
men are the ones who made the deco…
men are the ones who made the dec…
note the colorful threads on the w…
note the colorful threads on the …
threading in progress
threading in progress
a man smoking
a man smoking
kids playing
kids playing
streets of Tangier
streets of Tangier
streets of Tangier
streets of Tangier
streets of Tangier
streets of Tangier
streets of Tangier
streets of Tangier
streets of Tangier
streets of Tangier
The Kasbah, old fort on top of the…
The Kasbah, old fort on top of th…
The Kasbah, old fort on top of the…
The Kasbah, old fort on top of th…
The Kasbah, old fort on top of the…
The Kasbah, old fort on top of th…
The Kasbah, old fort on top of the…
The Kasbah, old fort on top of th…
streets of Tangier
streets of Tangier
streets of Tangier
streets of Tangier
streets of Tangier
streets of Tangier
streets of Tangier
streets of Tangier
vendor selling kaftans
vendor selling kaftans
colorful kaftans
colorful kaftans
back at the Grand Socco
back at the Grand Socco
back at the Grand Socco
back at the Grand Socco
back through the fish market
back through the fish market
and I got the fish vendor to pose
and I got the fish vendor to pose
and I got the fish vendor to pose
and I got the fish vendor to pose
and I got the fish vendor to pose
and I got the fish vendor to pose
at the square, having a drink to f…
at the square, having a drink to …
Tangier
photo by: idiosyncraticJRNYS