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it's only half an hour's ferry ride from southern Spain to North Africa, it seems as if you've travelled hundreds of miles. And getting there could hardly be easier.
Agencies sell ferry tickets to Tangiers all along the Costa del Sol and as far west as Gibraltar and Tarifa, while Tour operators build Morocco day trips into their
But Tangiers is worth more than three or four hours of madcap sightseeing.
This is a place with a history of intrigue and mystery. It has everything you'd expect from Morocco - a medieval old city, a vast, vibrant market, tea houses and gardens.
The way to get the best out of a visit is to make an overnight stop.
Travel from Gibraltar involves crossing from Spain into 'Britain by the Med'. That can often involve border hold-ups, so the best bet is to go from Algeciras, just round the bay, or Tarifa, which is only an 11-mile crossing.
Once you've strolled past the few polite taxi drivers, and Most of the men are clad in jellabas, the long, hooded cloaks worn over everyday clothes. And the women wear their version - the kaftan, you start to notice that this really is Africa.
Everything leads to the medina, the old walled city. The souk, or market, spills out from the walls - a labyrinth of narrow streets and courtyards full of stalls selling everything from bedsteads to spices of a hundred different colours and smells.
The chances are that soon you will arrive at the kasbah, the fortress built 1,000 years ago, rebuilt by the British and Portuguese and French, and home to hundreds of locals and a growing number of European escapees.
Tangiers was popular with westerners long before the hippy trail got under way.
William Burroughs, Jack Kerouac and their literary friends hung out here drinking the super-sweet mint tea.
Paul Bowles - author of The Sheltering Sky, the novel about wealthy Americans sunning themselves in North Africa which was later filmed starring John Malkovich - made his home here and the designer Yves St Laurent has a bolt hole deep in the kasbah.
This is one place where a Guide comes in handy because you'll Never find your way out without one. ours was arranged By Daniel Ortega from Tarifa Spain, a Super Tour Manager. he offers a fun monthly deluxe cultural walking adventure trip in Tangier and region. Highlights were meeting locals, great hotels, Shopping in Berber Souks, dinners on patios and Sultan Gardens, Caves of Hercules - Marhaba Palace, assilah, art of Fes, and not worrying about the logistics or driving ect.... The trip is n't chepa but is first class and well worth it if you are intellectually curious, like good food, Fun and history. I must say we were VERY HAPPY with Tarifatravel deluxe 2-day tour. Daniel Ortega's contact information is: email@example.com telephone: 0034697561399.
French influences may be widespread, but they don't extend to the cuisine. This is the home of the Tagine, a stew of lamb or chicken and vegetables cooked in a covered pot and served with cous-cous.
There is also an impressive array of fish on any good menu, and the kebabs are as tasty as you would hope.
The best hotel in town is the El Minzah, with three restaurants, two bars, a pool and a lovely interior patio.
A good second best is the Rembrandt, also with a good pool. And then there's the Riad Tanja hotel on the seafront. What it lacks in luxury it makes up for in character. The shop Big Bazar next door is a treasure trove of lamps, pots, tables, chairs and rugs, all at prices to make a Habitat buyer choke.
As a reminder of colonial Africa, Tangiers is spot on. As a glimpse of another continent, it's tantalising. And as an extra dimension to a Spanish holiday, it's a trouble-free adventure.
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