Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Take Me to the Kasbah...Tangier, Morocco (Nov. 1, 2010)

Here we are cruising by the coast of Spain…

We enjoyed a sea day between Barcelona and Tangier and a chance for all our Cruise Critic people to meet and put faces to the names we’ve been chatting with online for the past several months. Here we are at the Meet and Greet. Everyone that we invited showed up with an extra 20 or so people. It was great. 


The lady on the right is the Cruise Director, Susan Rawlings.

Jim on formal night…

Nancy took this picture. Obviously something was quite funny!

Nancy and Joe…

Hallowe’en night…this is a little scary…

As is this!

We asked Chong, the bartender, to take our picture and he held the camera up and snapped away. He’s obviously done this a few times!

That’s better, although we caught Joe in a weak moment!

The next morning we were up bright and early for a tour in Tangier, Morocco. Nancy organized this one and it was a good group.

The Moroccan flag...


Tangier is a seaport city located in northern Morocco at the western end of the Strait of Gibraltar. We went through the Strait at about 3:00 a.m. much to the disappointment of many passengers. Morocco has a population of 31 million, with about 700,000 in Tangier, and was first settled by the Carthaginians in the 5th century BC.

There are many different religions and cultures in Tangier, mostly because of the different conquests over the years. The large Jewish community came from the expulsion of the Jews from Spain. The first language is Arabic and the second is French.

The usual line-up of buses at the dock with our first glimpse of the robes (djellabas) worn by the men. "I don't think we're in Kansas anymore, Toto!"

We met our guide, Aziz, and we were off! A very modern city so far…the current king is very progressive and married a commoner who also is changing the culture by participating in public functions. The previous king’s wife has never been seen!


Tangier has many outdoor cafes, almost totally populated by men. A woman is rarely seen sitting outside in one.

What a pretty view…mostly white buildings, with splashes of red and yellow.

There are some very nice homes…

The King of Saudi Arabia’s palace…they are very restricted in their own countries with respect to drinking and gambling, so it’s not unusual for them to have palaces in other countries.

Heading to Cape Spartel, where the Mediterranean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean. It is the most north westerly point of the African continent.

The white circles are newly constructed condos…


Cape Spartel…a bit of a tourist attraction!

The lighthouse was constructed in 1864.

Another market for haggling. They were selling a lot of geode rocks here…

Most of the tours were stopping here for coffee, but we were trying to stay ahead of the crowds.

Trinkets for sale…

Camel ride, anyone?


Jeff, one of our Cruise Critic group, decides to give it a try. He is doing the bucking bronco wave with his hat, when the camel takes off.


Lovely beach…

Le Mirage Hotel...

The Caves of Hercules…folklore says that at one time Europe and Africa were joined and Hercules was the one that separated the continents. When he had finished, he came to these caves to rest. The caves are made of limestone and are now underground shopping venues.

With more trinkets…it was damp with a mist in the air, not the greatest working conditions.


Constant pounding by the sea has worn away the limestone causing this opening…


The Berbers with the wide straw hats are the indigenous people of Morocco. These girls were trying on the traditional dress.

The Berbers carved grinding stones out of the rock, as shown by the circular indentations in the walls. Amazing! 


Lunch time!

Kittens and cats everywhere…

Back on the bus and driving by some very nice homes in the hills...

New townhouses…

There is a huge amount of construction going on in Morocco…



We stopped at a small store to buy some wine on this nice street.

All styles of dress…

A fountain in a roundabout…

Carpets, anyone?

By this time, we were looking for a washroom stop! Aziz brought us to this hotel, which is very old and has a history of celebrity visitors.

Nothing but the best washroom stops for Aziz’s clients! 


Lovely streets…

Aziz in deep thought…

What is this kitten looking at?

More kittens in the tree!

We stopped at St. Andrews Anglican church. This church is on a plot of land that Hassan I provided to the English in 1880. It is a well documented church as the registers are available beginning in1885. It is unusual in that the Lord's Prayer is in Arabic on the wall behind the altar.

Nice dedication and some old headstones...


Rudimentary brooms, but they do the job!

Headstones of those who died in WWII…

And then we headed towards the market…what an eye opener! Here is the shoe section…vendors upon vendors selling shoes. It is very common to see the men wearing the yellow shoes which are called babouches.

These are beautiful caftans…

This is the Grand Circle in the centre of the city, with the start of the kasbah on the far side...

Want to book a band? Step in…

Part of the medina in the old Arab quarter...

And it begins with grains…

And the most amazing smells as you go by the spices…look at that pile of saffron!

Fish…


Olives…so pretty how they arrange them!

Going through the meat section now. It was nice and clean! We passed some stalls that might have been clean, but they weren’t so nice. It looked like a horse head in one stall. I couldn’t bring myself to take a picture of it…

Look at how they arrange the vegetables...it's like art!

A traditional Berber woman making hats. Aziz asked us to only take pictures from a distance.

Flowers! It is a beautiful market…

And we popped out on the other side…

Aziz explained that it is not unusual at all for men to have their arms around each other. As he explained, “It doesn’t mean they are from San Francisco.”

This arch goes into the walled city, the fortress district known as the kasbah. It contained the Sultan’s palace and other high ranking officials’ homes behind protected walls.

It was a good thing we had a guide, as the streets are narrow with no apparent method to the layouts!

Hoofing up many of the steps we took that day…

This is the residential area…many homes all joined together at any angle.

Ibn Battouta was a great world traveller, long before Columbus...

Here is our group obviously seeing something noteworthy and picture worthy!

Homes go up and homes go down…

People leave bread out in bags for the cats, but we also saw a lot of fish parts…

It is incredible and we are totally lost by now!

The communal bread ovens…people bring their dough here to have it baked.

Look at the wires hanging all over…

Oh oh…by this time, this set of steps looked gi-normous!

More kitties with their fishy parts…

A splash of colour in otherwise drab surroundings…

The arch in the wall around the kasbah built in the 10th century. By this time, Aziz seems to be saying “oh, these tourists!”

Jim and Kim in the kasbah…

A beautiful mosaic near the keyhole arch...

Jim trying to keep up with the highlights of Aziz’s commentary…

This museum was originally the Sultan’s palace. It would have been nice to visit, but was undergoing renovation.

10th century wall…

View from the other side of the wall…fortress on the right with our ship in the distance.

Lots of manual labour is required to push a cartload of cement up the hill. This area is too narrow for most vehicles.

Amazing old tree…

At last it was time for lunch! We went to this place that had daily specials.

Everyone had the special, but they had one piece of chicken pie which I decided to try. This is chicken pie? Yum!! It was so good!

This was the special. Meatballs in tomato sauce with a fried egg on top. It wasn’t spicy at all, just good!

After lunch, it was more walking and we passed rows and rows of jewellery shops.

We were constantly followed by vendors selling everything. Kathy had purchased some bracelets already and was trying to tell this guy "no, thank you" but they don't take no for an answer. You can hear someone saying "I didn't want these either, but I bought them." It was pretty funny, and you could see that he was having fun as well.

video

Jeff wandered off briefly to find this synagogue which he had heard about and which Aziz said he would never find on his own. When he didn’t come back right away, Aziz took us to find him. Jeff had not only found it, he got the guy to open it. All the light fixtures are donations…

It was the first synagogue in Tangier and is not used for worship anymore, but only for weddings and other special occasions.

We walked up the stairs to see where the women would sit as they wouldn't sit in the pews with the men. Nancy, Jim and Aziz opted out and waited for us below.

All of a sudden we saw several crests with the American Legation symbol on it. Morocco was the first country to recognize the independence of the US in 1776. The Moroccans gave this piece of property to the US as a gift, and it is the only land outside the US that is recognized as a historic property.

Many styles of dress for the women as well. They may choose to completely cover themselves, or just wear western clothes, or a variation of both.

Interesting mud guards!

Ahhh…momma and her babies! Much as I love cats, I resisted the urge to pet any of them!

Jimmy made perfume??

This was a fantastic day and definitely one of my favourite places so far!

3 comments:

  1. Kim, whatever was in that mint tea at lunch in Tangier looks like it just about put me to sleep! HaHa

    I am having such a good time reading your blog and remembering out trip. Your posts are bringing back memories that I had already forgotten. Great job!
    Randy

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  2. Our tour of Tangiers was awful, you saw so much more then we did. And we were bothered constantly by the touts, they surrounded us, making it impossible even to see inside any of the shops. We didn't see the steps, or the residential area at all. Didn't even know about Hercules and so much more. It was a very uncomfortable day. Exhausted trying to keep moving with the group when the touts would be in front of, beside and behind almost forcing you physically to stop. STRESSFUL!!

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  3. Tangier is beautiful, combining many of the best attributes of other Moroccan cities.

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