Sunday, July 21, 2019

Morocco 2019 - Day 6 (7/16/2019) - To Tangier

The morning started with Fran going for a swim at 10am (first opening time of the pool) while I slowly got myself out of bed.  After she returned and showered, we headed down for breakfast (which was the same as the day before) at 11am.  After eating and finishing packing up, we left the hotel a little before noon.

We walked to the square where our car was parked, finding it without much trouble.  I pulled it out of the tight spot, we tipped the attendant, and then we were on our way.  We stopped at the first gas station that we saw along the road (before making it out of town) in order to top up the tires with air.  I also snapped a picture of the warning on the dashboard to send to the car rental company when we arrived in Tangier.  Fortunately, the drive to our hotel in Tangier (Grand Hôtel Villa de France) was otherwise fairly uneventful, and not long enough to bother my shoulder too much (I'm sure the two Aleve I took after breakfast also helped).  The first half or so was on windy roads through the Rif mountains, and the second was on flatter straighter roads with higher speed limits (up to 100 kmph).  We arrived at the hotel a little before 3pm.

After settling in the room for a bit (and partaking of some snacks), we devised a plan to walk out to Colline du Charf (Charf Hill), a hill to the southeast that supposedly provided a panoramic view of the city and the bay.  The walk took a little under an hour, with much of it going downhill before the climb up the hill.  I worked up a bit of a sweat going up the hill, but it wasn't too bad despite being the warmest part of the day - it was maybe in the low or mid 80s (°F).  There was also a breeze (well, maybe a wind) at the top that helped me cool off.  Unfortunately, though, the hilltop was disappointing.  The view toward the bay was partially blocked by trees and buildings, the area was generally pretty trashed, and the vegetation was dry and unappealing.  We were also surprised (though not in a particularly positive nor negative way) to see that one side of the hill was the top part of a fairly large cemetery.

We decided to take a different route back to the hotel, heading north toward the beach, and then walking along the walkway beside it.  We also couldn't resist going out the beach itself (which was as polluted as the guidebook warned) and sticking our feet into the cold water (my first time touching the ocean (well, bay) in Africa).  By this time we had grown quite hungry.  We passed many restaurants on the remainder of the walk back to the hotel, but none appealed to Fran.  Back at the hotel, we asked the two receptionists for some restaurant recommendations and then walked back out in the direction of the medina (where the three that they mentioned were located).

By this time, though, Fran had stopped being picky about restaurants and was desperate for some food.  We had a brief moment of excitement when we came across a Syrian restaurant along one of the boundary streets of the medina - it advertised vegetarian/vegan options including falafel (which we had just been discussing a craving for).  However, one of the workers informed us that the restaurant had actually been closed for over half an hour (it was after 6:30pm at the time).  Sensing our desire for vegetarian food, he eagerly towed us just inside the medina to another restaurant with common ownership that he said could provide us vegetarian options.  Sadly, though, this was just another Moroccan restaurant with vegetable tagine and vegetable couscous.  He handed us off to the proprietor, telling him that we were vegetarians, and the proprietor put in an order for soup, tagine, and couscous to the kitchen (i.e., without asking us).  We simply followed along the whole time, partially because the first man was being so kind to us, and partially because we were so hungry.  We tore into the bread, dips, and soup (though I didn't finish the soup because it was pretty bland) when they were brought out, and then did the same with the tagine.  We were both full after the tagine, and hoped that they weren't really going to bring out couscous next.  We tried to indicate this to the worker, but he insisted that it would only be a small portion and that it would be a "different flavor".  We did our best with the couscous when he brought them out, but we each could only take a few forkfuls more.  When we asked for he bill, we were both surprised to find out that the meal (including a large bottle of water) was significantly more expensive than we expected at 240 Dirham.  While that is actually a pretty cheap dinner for two for NYC residents, the mildly annoying part about it was that we would not have ordered that much food if given the choice.  Oh well...our hunger was a least satisfied.  After dinner we stopped at a couple of pastry shops to sample some cookies and ice cream on the walk back to the hotel.



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