Friday, 26 June 2015

June 15 – Tangier, Morocco

Arrive in Tangier, Morocco at 9 am, A cancelled/moved tour, Exploring Tangier alone, Return to ship, Tour of Tangier with guide, return to ship at 6:20, Dinner at 9:15 pm

Time went back one hour early this morning.

We ran out of toilet paper last night because we were never given a back up roll. Thank God for Kleenex. The service on this ship doesn't seem to be very attentive or consistent.

This morning we awoke at 6 am and went up for breakfast but the international breakfast was closed, so we ended up at the gross buffet again. We went to ask about the tour and they would not honour our 9 am departure time or move us to the other English tour similar to ours that departed at 9 am. Bill asked to speak with the tour manager, Francesco, and the agent went behind the door. The agent came out again and said that Francesco was busy right now, but he would be able to speak with Arnesh (sp?). The agent went behind the door and again came out and said that Arnesh was too busy to speak with us. Bill asked if they were behind the door and we would be happy to wait, but the agent said they were loading buses. We decided that we would just have to go out into the town on our own but indicated that we would like to speak with Francesco later.

On our way down the stairs to disembark the ship, we spotted a bearded tour office staff member in aviator sunglasses and a baseball cap and wondered if this was the elusive Francesco. As we were walking towards the town we approached a group of tour office people, including the bearded man, and indeed saw that this was Francesco. We told him that we were disappointed that our tour was changed to which he replied he never sets times for his excursions (even though a time was given online when we booked), that it didn’t matter, that we were wrong, and that he could do whatever he wanted. We said that we wanted to talk to him later. He was rude and abrupt which was quite shocking to us.

We left the ship and explored Tangier alone, getting money out of an ATM, after the first one took Bill's card for a while, did not give us money, and eventually returned the card. April suggested that they stop for a drink in a cafe and regroup and they had traditional mint tea (which contains green tea) at a café and April used squat toilets like a pro (thanks Japan!). We explored the Medina more, drank a fresh squeezed orange juice, got lost, and were harassed endlessly by vendors and would-be guides.

At one point before we had learned better than to engage with any would be vendor or local, we were directed down a street to see a local craft fair because Bedouins had just come into town. The winding alley soon lost their commercial feel. The person who directed us there, a fellow with a bandaged jawbone, which appeared to be a massive tooth abscess, suddenly appeared, having taken a shortcut down another street, and he wanted to direct us to his father’s shop just around the next corner… at this point we felt unsafe and went down another street when he was moving ahead. Then to try and lose him, we ran down another, and ended up losing ourselves as well.

Eventually we figured out our bearings, but it took a long while and we would have been better off having had a tour in the morning as we had originally booked. For the rest of the morning we were much more on guard as we goggled at the leather goods, metal works, fabrics, and trinkets. But mostly, we observed the stunningly gorgeous architecture, doors, and tiles.

We went to the Kasbah (fort), and then became lost again. We went to the souks (markets) in the Medina again, and had lunch in a restaurant. It was chicken tagine, fries, salad, and Coca Cola. As we ate lunch, we watched the traffic, people and merchants go about their business. A grey cat with green eyes approached April and shared her chicken at lunch. When the flow of chicken slowed, the cat stood on his hind legs and stared plaintively at April until she found more chicken. Then he let her pet him. There are lots of cats in Tangier and they are very friendly.

Hearing the call to prayer echoing in the hot Moroccan sun in the square in which we had lunch was moving.

We did a little shopping, managing to negotiate prices down quite a lot. We rushed back to the ship in time for our 2:00 tour. A little note in Russian was left in our room, apparently to notify us when and where to meet for the tour . . . evidently our designation had changed from French to Russian.

The tour took us by bus to see areas outside of the medina, or old city. We had mint tea and cookies at a hotel. The mint tea was nowhere near as wonderful as the two that we had in the medina that morning. We toured the Kasbah and medina, including the Kasbah museum. The guide took us to a rip-off carpet place where the proprietor separated us off from the group onto another floor by saying he wanted to show us something and tried to sell us carpets. The tour guide did not come and retrieve us and seemed to not notice our absence. We managed to leave and rejoin the group. Then we were taken to an outrageously expensive "traditional pharmacy" where they sell argan oil. We saw argan oil for much cheaper around the medina and when we tried to bargain down the price they took real offence and said that every other bottle of argan oil we had see must have been counterfeit. Right. We walked back to the bus and April lamented the lack of afternoon tea with the British couple we met. They had had afternoon tea on previous Costa cruises and were disgusted that it had been withdrawn for no good reason and with no notice to them.

We had a short drive back to the ship on the bus and arrived back around 6:20 pm. Exhausted, we ordered room service for a snack, and worked on our blog. We noticed that there was still a plug in our drain and a flickering light in our cabin, which we called up to have fixed yesterday…they were still not fixed.

We had dinner at 9:15 in the restaurant. These late dinners came as a surprise because when we booked the cruise we were given an option for dinner at 6:00 or 8:30. We chose 8:30, however, the dinner we go to is never before 9:15.

Though we had a Tangier experience and felt far away from home, it would have been vastly improved with a morning tour to orient us to a city that is so unlike where we live.

13.27 km walked today.

Looking up from deck 3 at the glass elevators on the cruise ship

Some of our first glimpses of Tangier

A tired Bill drinking genuine Moroccan mint tea in a tea house

"Darn it! I can't seem to get this thing started. I guess I'll just take a nap."

We stopped for some fresh orange juice...this was much better than the Tang-like substance we were served on the ship.

Our second cup of Moroccan tea for the day after ducking into a tea house during a downpour.

The tiles are amazing...don't know if this hairstylist was named Victoria or if she hailed from our town. We didn't ask. 

Just a fountain...they clearly didn't put any work into it.

Cats chillin'. The cats in Tangier looked like people took care of them

April got a little closer

View from our lunch table


Moroccan Coke was slightly more diluted than French Coke, but refreshing, nonetheless.

Chicken Tagine for lunch...they just kept on bringing food. We thought the restaurant was trying to up-sale us on food, but this was all included in the price. Price for both of us with 2 Coca Cola: approximately $10 (half of which was the pop).

A view of the old Medina from the "rich" part of Tangier on our bus tour. Rich is rich, as homes in this area ranged from $1M-$10M Euros.

Tangier Kasbah  museum
They know how to do tiles. 
Fancy lamp...fancier ceiling.

Looking up...wayyyy up.

Alabaster carving


April getting artistic with photography

The doors were a little short

More tiles

Gibraltar is far in the distance on the left hand side.

A very nice door

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