Magnificent Morocco – 5. The Riad in Tangier

Before I got there, my expectations of Morocco were to find these beautiful buildings that look lavish finished with black and white tile patterns, high ceilings and ornamental lamps.    Like some of the places I’ve seen like the Arab Christian youth hostel in Nazareth, but better as I’ve read so much about the Moroccan artisans and their incredible attention to detail.

This is Tangier looking from back to the port I came out of yesterday

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I got into a small taxi which the driver took me at full speed into the old city up a series of windy streets, I’m thinking we can’t get through that small doorway, with a lot of skill from the driver he weaves his way, finally getting through a tight bend which required a full left lock one direction, then puts the car in reverse and full right lock and then ahead. I was outside my hostel, actually the journey was very quick, I didn’t realise it was right across from the ferry terminal.   My journey is only 2 Euros.   I haven’t actually got any local money yet.

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This is the living room.   Lots of comfy seats and computer to borrow there.   Absolutely love the decorations here, the high ceilings, mosaic and tile work, coloured glass ornament lamp shades, and of course carpets.

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This place is on 3 floors, you can see all the way down through the glass floor from the top room where I was at.

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Star shaped iron work, pale pastel coloured walls, palm trees, – and – a glass floor revealing what is on the floors above and below you!!!   I think this place had been extensively renovated recently.

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This was my room for the night.   the bathroom is set inside this wardrobe-like partition.   This would be a pretty cool place for a honeymoon I think.

I was the only person in this place, I had it to myself!   Guess it was the quiet season.

I would thoroughly recommend staying at the Dar Jameel. 

I found out later that a Riad is a type of mansion that was popular with the wealthy here.   I think that’s where the city in Saudi Arabia of the same name comes from.  Its amazing this place has been built and kept in such beautiful condition.

Previous – 4. Sailing to Tangier

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Magnificent Morocco – 4. Sailing to Tangier

I was now pretty excited about getting on a boat to Africa from Spain, actually I got my ticket and left on a bus from Algeciras but was driven on the bus (as part of the ferry ticket) from Tarifa, which I noticed this town in Spain had people that seemed to mostly Arabic / North African.  Whilst purchasing my ticket from a dedicated travel shop, there are two men next to me talking to the owner in Arabic, both of them are black, and are tall and slender and possibly look racially like a nation like Sudan or Somalia, but in the corner of my eye I see they get their passports out and and they are from Algeria.

Algeciras sounds a lot like Al Jazeera the Qatar based English Arab news channel, I’m pretty sure its an Arabic word left over from the days when the Arab ruled Spain.    Paradoxically, there is a Spanish enclave built into today’s Morocco called Ceuta.

So its, not really simple to work out who “took” whose land, as many different people groups have swapped around these two opposite facing nations countless times.

I’ve got a few hours to go kill, so I have Arabic coffee in a little cafe run by Moroccans in Algeciras.  The man has a picture of King Mohammed VI of Morocco on his wall and tells me he has met him. The cafe is advertised as having wifi (pronounced “whiffy” by French and Moroccan people) but actually I have to sit near the window as its pinched from the hotel across the road, as the cafe manager found out the code from his competitor’s business!!

Part of the reason for this trip is for me to learn about the different faiths that in Morocco besides Islam. there was once a thriving Jewish community, which have largely gone, but there all sorts of rumours of some converted to Islam or Christianity. I see a lot of Jews in Israel of Moroccan descent, and I think its a heritage they are proud of which has its own individuality. There is meant to be Christians both indigenous and those converted from Islam, but relatively DSCF8092 1024few.

After looking for somewhere to ear, but only finding an ok-ish Turkish kebab place for lunch, across the road I noticed this Christian ministry which got me excited.  Looking closer its a group that are from Brazil, its quite heart warming to see the Brazilian people who have a heart for Israel also want to preach the gospel to the nations too!  Check out their site at

When it was time to get my bus, I began to worry a bit, there were some buses in the large car park but with little signage to tell you where.   After asking various people in turns out I had the right bus.

Once on the boat it was getting dark.   The ferry felt a bit like the Isle of Wight trip with cars on bottom, and passengers are needed to carry (no lift) their own luggage up the stairs to the deck which has seating with a cafe in the middle, we were told to fill in some documents showing our purpose of visiting Morocco to a government employee sitting in the corner of the boat’s cafe, this was a bit nerve wracking approaching him with about 10 Israeli stamps mostly volunteer visas on my passport.

The boat only took an hour, once disembarking, it was quite quick process to get through a small terminal into Tangier.  it was too dark to get proper pictures of the largely empty port before I got my taxi, but boy, Tangier turned out to be an exciting place!

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