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Copyright 1995-2002 
Linda Coffman

 

Cruise Diva's CRUISE DIARY
~ Lisbon to Barcelona ~

Wind Surf Casino & Lounge

Tangier, Morocco

April 30, 2002 - Come with me to the Kasbah. (Sorry...  I always wanted a legitimate reason to say that.)

For those of us going ashore in Tangier, Patrick, Wind Surf's Shore Excursion Manager, highly recommended a ship's tour. It quickly became apparent why that was sound advice. Bargaining for a taxi and independent guide would be tedious at best and, even with a tour, we were besieged by Tangier's world-class aggressive vendors. On one's own, a tourist would surely be even more intimidated. With a population of 600,000, Tangier isn't an enormous metropolis; however, getting around the maze of narrow lanes and alleyways that meander through the Kasbah would be nearly impossible without assistance.

Sprawling on the hillside above the harbor, the Medina (old city) is the hub of Tangier. Our first stop was a visit to the American Legation where we learned of the peaceful relationship between Morocco and the United States. The exhibits include a letter of friendship from George Washington, who expressed his appreciation to the Kingdom of Morocco for recognizing America's independence. The American Legation building was the site of the American Embassy for 145 years and is the only United States Historic Landmark on foreign soil.

Temporarily leaving the city behind, we made our way to the Caves of Hercules, a combination of natural and made-made caverns. The most significant feature is the cave's seaward opening that frames the stunning blue of the ocean and sky and resembles the outline of Africa at low tide. This stop afforded the opportunity to ride a camel. Several members of our group took them out for a spin and it was hilarious to watch. Sharp-eyed Mel noticed the camels were flea infested so I kept my distance.

We then passed areas of rocky coastline interspersed with wide golden beaches until we reached Cap Spartel. In front of its picturesque lighthouse, the waters of the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea meet and mingle.

The Kasbah's narrow, maze-like streets

From the fresh ocean breezes of Cap Spartel, we drove past the palace of Morocco's king and plunged back into the heart of Tangier's Kasbah. Twelve hundred people make their homes in the Kasbah and life appears much as it has been for hundreds of years. Water is drawn from central fountains, children attend Arabic schools, and women bring their bread dough to a communal bakery to be baked in a wood fired oven. Residents pray at mosques inside the fortress walls and enjoy Turkish-style steam baths. The sights, sounds, and smells are indeed like nothing we had ever experienced.

We stopped for refreshments and a bit of entertainment before returning to Wind Surf for lunch. Numerous passengers opted to revisit town with our guide for an afternoon "shopping" experience. Mel decided he couldn't miss that chance, but I chose to remain on board and wind down from the strenuous walking over cobblestones and broken pavement.

Mel returned from the shopping foray, proclaiming it a bust. For a mere $3, the guide took them in a small bus to a store where the pressure was high. Mel didn't find anything appealing and returned empty-handed.

Today's events confirmed that the information Patrick shares in his shore lectures is right on target. In addition, the daily ports of call hand-outs are extremely useful for those of us with independent spirits.

Cruising the Strait of Gibraltar - After leaving Morocco, Captain Boylin announced Wind Surf would not only be sailing through the straits of Gibraltar as planned; she would also make an emergency stop in the waters off the Rock to debark an ailing passenger. It was dusk as we approached, but the familiar outline of the Rock of Gibraltar was clearly visible in the distance.

We packed a lot into our day in Tangier so we decided to rest up and order dinner from room service. What a treat to relax in our cabin and still enjoy the same excellent Surf & Turf dinner that was served in the Restaurant. Another treat is the large selection of complimentary videos available to watch on our cabin TV/VCR. 

Mel's tour tomorrow includes the Alhambra and lasts approximately ten hours. My plans are less ambitious. I intend to stroll the streets of Marbella's old quarter and spend some time at a seaside cafe. May 1st is a Spanish holiday and it's a bit early for the tourist crush on the Costa del Sol, so I look forward to leisurely window shopping and savoring a glass of sangria in the shade of an orange tree.

Day Three -> Marbella, Spain

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