The city is loud and vibrant, welcoming yet chaotic. It’s a hybrid of cultures due to the many settlers who have made the country their home. Morocco’s diverse population and long history are all reflected in the unique architecture. Islamic features like the colorful mosaic tiles, fountains and geometric designs are blended with Moorish arches and French-styled buildings. You’ll meet locals who speak Arabic, French, Spanish, English, and all the above.
My first impression was almost overwhelming as we strolled the labyrinthine Tangier Medina (old town). Children run through the streets in all directions, weaving around women with covered heads and old men wearing robes with pointed hoods (reminding us of Jawas from Star Wars).
Everyone has something to sell, and vendors speak many different languages. We learned quickly that pretending we don’t speak their language doesn’t work – pick a language and they will communicate with you. One man tries to sell Bryan a single, old belt… I wonder if he took it off his waist just before he saw us. Another man is holding three chickens by their ankles… I jump back, horrified at the thought of killing the birds myself. A little girl asks if I want to buy the bracelet off her wrist. My heart aches a bit.
An aroma of spices fills the streets and tangerines fill the trees. Did you know that tangerines come from Tangier? Eureka! You can buy 1kg for 50 cents, and they are the sweetest little bits of citrus you will ever taste.
Everywhere we walk someone follows us, asking “Where are you going? The Kasbah is this way. Can I take you to the museum? Do you want to buy some Argan oil? Perhaps some of the best hash you’ve ever smoked?” The hash is not needed, for we are stoned by the surrounding commotion.
We do need groceries, and we quickly realize that a supermarket is not the way to shop in Tangier, so we work our way through multiple vendors who each seem to specialize in a specific ingredient. We buy eggs from the egg man, who stands in front of a large cart covered in feathers. He asks how many we want. I laugh… suddenly a dozen seems so limiting. We’ll take 5, I say (cinco!), and he puts them in a plastic bag for us to carry home. We find a chicken man, who asks how we would like our bird to be cut. We sift through piles of vegetables on display all the way up the streets.
As we slowly work our way through the Medina, climbing higher into the Kasbah, things become more peaceful. Along the way we see colorful, mosaic tiled designs that look like they should be part of an elaborate site or famous mosque. Just another random piece of art decorating the streets of Tangier. Call to prayer echoes through the cobblestone alleys, and the neighborhood mosques begin to open their grand doors.
“Well Bry, we’re not in Europe anymore!” I say, giddy and fascinated by the new world we’ve stepped into. We continue to walk up a steep hill to the top of the Kasbah, with a man named Abdula hot on our heels (a man who seems to find us everywhere we go). Abdula follows us all the way home, insisting that we need to be guided.
Most people stay in Tangier for a few days, using the port city as a jumping off point to the rest of Morocco. We spent a month living in Tangier, with plenty of time to dig deep into this lively city, as well venture into the surrounding countryside.
We fell in love with the beautiful culture, the detailed architecture and elaborate designs, the lively markets and artisan shops…. and, most of all, the cuisine.
Here’s a little taste of Morocco, and 10 reasons we fell in love. Click below to watch our video…
For centuries, Tangier has been Europe’s gateway to Africa. It was once an open territory (not governed by Morocco), attracting artists, unconventional travelers and even spies. It was said that, whoever you are and wherever you came from, you are no one from nowhere in Tangier. This was alluring to many! Today, Tangier has transformed from its slightly seedy reputation of year past. A blend of foreign residents gives Tangier a unique vibe, while the cultural life is buzzing and the city gleams with confidence.I will warn you that if you plan your trip well, it’s impossible not to fall hard for the colorful, alluring Tangier.Click To Tweet
Is Tangier on your bucket-list? Tell us what you think! Scroll down and comment below…