Ever wonder how the 1% live? Sultans and such?
First you have to keep the riffraff out. This is the wall in the garden.
From the outside you’d see something more like this.
Beautiful things age well.
The builders seldom wasted an opportunity for design and decoration.
With some imagination you could see this garden in bloom, though this was not it’s best season.
It’s hard to say just how antique this well is, but it seems to still be in working order.
It’s been awhile since a sultan was in residence. The palace is a museum now, with Roman artifacts on display.
After the palace, we passed through this gate on the way to the restaurant for lunch.
The restaurant was luxurious, as befitting a group of would-be sultans just out of the palace for a bite to eat. The first course was a vegetable soup flavored with a mild curry and maybe some saffron.
The other courses were:
- lamb kebobs
- couscous with chicken
- pastry with sweet, mint tea
Everything was delicious, especially the tea with hot water directly over fresh mint and spices. Everything was left in the cup, and you just sort of drank the tea around the greenery.
We also enjoyed music with our meal.
In Tangier, as an American from New York, there is a strong suspicion that you have a large amount of disposable funds at your command. After lunch, we had time for shopping. Most of our group visited shops for spices and souvenirs, but as New Yorkers, we were lead by our guide to shops for textiles and carpets appropriate for our assumed wealth.
The carpets were indeed beautiful, though we had no intention of buying. Without even trying we performed the ultimate bargaining tactic of walking toward the door. On our way, the price for the item we liked best went step-by-step from 1100 euro to 600 euro, and we’ll ship it for free.
We did buy at the textile shop, though, and maybe/probably paid too much.
The salesmen deal with tourist customers everyday, and are very practiced and persistent at closing a sale.
After our high-end shopping, we went back out in the streets for coffee and more of that delicious tea. And that’s when we really saw persistent salesmen. Ever wonder how it feels to be famous and the prey for paparazzi and piranha-like crowds? In parts of Tangier, being a tourist makes you a target for street vendors/hustlers, who just will not take no for an answer. They are the opposite of the polite crowds in the market. They invade your space to the extent you can hardly walk down the street, not just offering things for sale, but insisting over and over that you must buy. Dense clouds of ravenous mosquitoes are much more pleasant.
I tried hard to remember how unfair it is that I have resources they don’t, and how they need a way to make a living, but in the end, it’s just not possible to avoid becoming very annoyed.
We found peace and quiet again, here.
Tangier is a place for the rich and famous in general, not just sultans, and the Hotel Continental has hosted many.
I’m not sure about the bandage. Maybe a run-in with a street vendor?
From the hotel terrace, we got our first panoramic views of the city.
I especially liked the small boats docked tight together at the pier.
Inside, the hotel was nearly as opulent as the palace.
This is another antique water pump, left intact at the hotel.
Next, we boarded the bus for a trip along the Atlantic coast. The beaches were huge, white and clean and very inviting, though we passed them by to reach this pretty lighthouse.
We stopped to see the Caves of Hercules, carved by the waves of the Atlantic.
This little adventure Mary declined.
My trusty steed.
Almost done for the day, but there was one adventure left.
After the bus returned us to the ferry station, we waited in an interminable line to pass through the Morocco side of customs. Not a big deal, but we were pretty tired already, and the day had turned rainy and cold.
The ferry ride home was pleasant again, and we napped a little before reaching Tarifa. Of course, there was another line to re-enter Spain. We resigned ourselves to wait patiently, and finally reached the Spanish border officials. I went through without problems, but Mary was delayed. I went back to see what was wrong, and the customs agent was claiming that last year we had stayed in Spain more than the allowed three months. On the passport, she saw the January entrance stamp and the April exit, and counted 4 months. I’m guessing she was new on the job, because a person with experience would never make that kind of mistake.
At any rate, I was getting frustrated, as was the agent, as were the many people in line behind us. Mary was the patient one who calmly explained that we stayed 3 weeks in January, then 8 more in February and March, and then well less than a week in April, for a total stay well within 90 days. The agent saw her mistake, apologized, and allowed us into Spain, just before the crowd could string us up.
By now, it was raining enough to get really wet and cold, and we still had to get to the bus station. We grabbed a cab, and when we reached the station, it was dark and deserted. We were still hopeful, though, because the buses here pick up people without advance tickets and allow them to pay when boarding. It was just before 9 pm, so we expected no more than one more bus that day. If we had already missed it, we’d need to improvise. At 9:10, the bus pulled in, and though we were wet and tired, and still a little frustrated by our experience at Spanish customs, we made it home exhausted and ready for sleep.
There were ups and downs, but I’m very glad we made the trip to Tangier. Just like “New York,” there is magic in the words “Tangier” and “Morocco.”
I’m also very thankful to Mary for handling the border agent so graciously and effectively.
Thank-you, Mary. I love sharing these adventures with you.