Thursday, April 27, 2017

Tangier, Morocco!!


While my parents were in Málaga we also took a day trip to Tangier, Morocco! Morocco wasn't on my top list of places to visit at first but after a while I realized that I have no clue when I will be that close to Morocco again so we booked a tour. We planned this trip very last minute (the day before) and there were no big bus guided tours available with decent reviews so we began to look into a private tour. We stumbled upon  Said's Tours which had good reviews. (Here is the link to his Trip Advisor page if anyone is looking into a day trip to Morocco!) We took a bus from Málaga to Tarifa where we took a ferry to Tangier, but there were limited busses and ferries so we only had about 6 hours in Tangier. Said was very accommodating and allowed us to prioritize the things we really wanted to do. No one in my family is much of a foodie so we chose to opt out of the special Moroccan dinner and I requested a Henna Tattoo so he made a point to make sure I was able to get one. The ferry ride was fairly short and we were able to go through customs on the ferry which saved us time when we got to Morocco.

When we got there, Said himself was waiting for us with a sign. He took us to the car and we went on our way. We first went for a little driving tour of the city where Said gave us a little background information on Tangier and then he dropped us off with another guide who led us around for a while. We went to a light house where we could see where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Mediterranean Sea. Then we got to ride camels on the beach. This was at the top of my list and one of the coolest things we did. I had some friends who went to Morocco and they said that the camels they were given the opportunity to ride were very poorly treated but the ones we saw were just in a small group, not meant for big bus tours, and seemed to be treated well. Then we went to the Cave of Hercules, where the Phoenicians had carved an opening to the sea in the shape of Africa. The entire cave was basically a very rough map of their little part of the world and it was incredible because it was so old (the Phoenicians arrived in Morocco as early as 1000 B.C.)!

After this we met back up with Said and he took us through a fairly poor residential area. It was incredible because it was so local. We never would have gotten to see it if we were on a big bus tour. Said seemed to know everyone and he took us into a house where they make traditional bread and he was able to just take a piece and share it with us. After the residential area, we continued to the Medina market area where there were lots of spice markets and fruit sellers and then we went to a meat market and a fish market.

We did not go to any big tourist market where we were pressured to buy things by everyone we passed by, we walked passed one and we felt very lucky to have seen the more local side of things. We ended the day in a spice shop where we learned about traditional spices and oils and we were able to buy some Aragon oil (another big thing on my list), for our hair and skin. Our other tour guide brought a little Arab lady into the store who didn't speak english and she did my Henna tattoo. We headed back to the ferry, stopping for pictures outside of the Casbah (the old part of the city), and our guides made sure that we did not feel rushed or hurried.

When we got back to the port to get to the ferry, Said knew people and was able to help us bypass the long customs line, and he walked us all the way to the ferry. Our private tour was really not much more expensive than a big bus tour would have been but it was so much more worth it for us. It made Tangier one of my favorite places that I got to travel during my time abroad.




Where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Mediterranean Sea



Family Selfie! 


Africa, in the Cave of Hercules 
The Phoenicians carved ridges throughout the cave to represent the different directions of the waves of the sea and the ocean.




The little bakery inside someone's home













Getting my Henna Tattoo.

In front of the Casbah! 



Sunday, April 16, 2017

Gibraltar



While my parents were in Málaga, we took a day trip to Gibraltar. Gibraltar is a territory of the UK but it is at the southernmost tip of Spain and it is very close to Morocco. It was cool because they spoke a mix of Spanish and English because it is an English territory but it is so closely connected with Spain. We took a bus trip that had the option to just ride the bus to get to Gibraltar or to take a tour and after hearing recommendations from a friend, we chose to just take the bus there and find our own tour once we got there. The bus trip took far longer than it should have because we had to stop frequently in different towns to pick up more people but it got us there so we couldn't complain. Once we arrived in Gibraltar we quickly grabbed some lunch then walked towards the mountain where we caught a taxi guided tour to the top. Basically in Gibraltar there are a bunch of taxi services that bring people on a tour of the mountain for a set price. Our tour took us to the Pillar of Hercules, which was under construction but had a good view of Africa, the caves, a lookout that is famous for having the most tame of the famous gibraltar monkeys, and an old Muslim castle. The monkeys are probably one of the most famous things about the rock of Gibraltar and when one of my friends went his tour guide had a monkey sit on his shoulders. It looked awesome so I requested for our guide to help me get a monkey on my shoulders as well. He lured a very small cute one onto my shoulders but then a larger one jumped on instead! I didn't know how to get it to get off of me so I just stood there for a few minutes before my tour guide told me to just walk and it would jump off. He told me that I wasn't supposed to touch the monkey but that it could touch me but as I started walking it started to wobble so I put my hand up to kind of steady it, and it grabbed onto my arm in order to jump off. It was really large and very strong so it actually left a scratch and a pretty nasty bruise when it grabbed on but honestly it was completely worth it!

View of Spain
View of Morocco 


Inside the caves. 






A nice small monkey!  
*Unaware that he sees the larger monkey and is about to jump off*
Then there was a large monkey on my back. Very casual. 


Very ready for him to be off of my back. 


A road that goes in the middle of an airplane runway.