TANGIER, MOROCCO. Should you find yourself wanting to venture outside of Madrid consider the North African coastal city Tangier, Morocco. Although it will take you anywhere between nine and twelve hours to arrive at its sunny shores (about eight hours by bus and a little over thirty minutes by ferry), the vibrant, bustling marketplaces, beaches, and historic sites are worth it. And if you haven’t gotten your “marketplace fix,” you can travel an hour south of Tangier to Asilah, a quaint beach town known for its expansive medina and traditional architecture.
Regardless of how you decide to spend your time in Tangier, you will be surrounded by scenery that dares you to not be fully engaged. Coming less than 20 minutes westward into Tangier is The Caves of Hercules, my first outing in Morocco. A convenient day trip for the average tourist, you will learn a brief history of the cave (from where it derives its name) and enjoy the Atlantic coast. Aside from the typical characteristics inherent of caves that the Caves of Hercules posses, it has something that most caves lack: a window or an opening that is in the shape of Africa, which perhaps has an even more interesting interpretation than the Hercules legends.
Even if you are used to presence of beaches, do more than just look at them while you are here. It is likely that you have never seen the merging of two seas and the aftermath wash upon a shore. You might not ever witness the sky and the ocean yield to one another in quite the same way. The Atlantic and Mediterranean seas are more than enough to quench the avid or reserved beach-goer. What more, this is free so bring your sandals.
Casa Barata is another destination whilst in Tangier. Rows of shops and vendors extend to a seemingly infinite space and everything that you can think of, you can buy. I took the liberty to purchase as much Moroccan oil and Moroccan mint tea as I could. This is the time for exploring and bargaining. I have learned that you can pay less than 150 dirhams (15 euros) for nearly everything you want, as long as you say “this is all I have,” and/or “I will not buy this for anything over “x” amount.” Overall, this is an experience that you do not want to miss; it is the opportune time to buy all of your souvenirs.
And remember to convert your dirhams back to euros once you return, unless, of course, you know that Tanger is a place definitely worth visiting again!