Monday, March 26, 2007

Road to Morocco or Tetouan via Ceuta to be precise

On our recent Spanish trip we decided to visit Morocco for a day. Having been advised by a friend against the Tangier trip we decided to try something called " Moroccan Phantasy' which was a visit to Tetouan and a Berber Souk market, then have lunch in an old palace turned into a restaurant in the main centre of the Medina. We had another early (6:15am) start and we did not get back until after 11pm (the ferry was very delayed for no apparent reason).

The ferry journey over to Morocco was quite rough and some people were sea sick (including our guide), luckily we managed to keep our breakfast down. When we arrived at the port of Ceuta we were rather concerned at having to give up our passports to be retained in the border control office until our return. Imagine getting lost and having no identification. Some American passengers intended to consult their embassy when they got back to Spain which I think was a sensible precaution.

The coach then followed the coastal route towards Tetouan. There was a brief stop to see camels very much for tourists but fun seeing some people have a 30 second ride. Then it was a quick detour to a village where they were holding a small market. The guide told us that country folk brought vegetables to sell and then they went into the town to buy consumables. The vegetables did not look particularly fresh and other stalls were selling old electrical goods, clothes and lots of old shoes and trainers. The goods are transported by donkey and it seemed to be the women doing the work. We were marched around the village so quickly there was no time to stop and take photos and my few attempts to get a quick shot are not good enough to publish.

Arriving in Tetoun we first visited the newer part where we were shown Hassan 11 Square.
Bab er-Rouah is the name of the main gate to the Royal Palace in the Hassan II square. It's a huge and impressive gate. No entry to the public, the gate is guarded by royal guards day and night.

The palace is close to the new parts of Tetouan and is a big contrast to the Medina. The medina was dirty, neglected and stinks in some places, as there were piles of rotting rubbish lying around and hygiene seemed a bit lacking. There were scraggy looking chickens in cages (bird flu) came to mind so I'm quite glad I didn't see this until after I had eaten, as chicken was on the menu. Vegetables were spread on dirty bits of cloth next to rubbish and children were playing close by. It was easy to see how one could get lost in the maze of allyways, although we felt the guides were actually taking us the long route just to confuse. I would not want to be finding my way around in the dark.
Entrances to the Medina.

One of the guides was rushing around taking photos of our coach party to sell at the end of the day. I bought a couple of them and this one shows me striding out followed by Anna.
The men are called to prayer. This building was a big contrast to some of the others as it was well cared for.

We visited a pharmacie where we had the opportunity to buy spices, musk, tea and other remedies. I won't go into details but this is where I got fleeced which made me mad as I am usually so careful. All I will say is they are very clever. Having said that some cream and oil I bought for my psoriasis is helping my skin.

We also visited a carpet shop which has some beautiful carpets, kaftans, leather and pottery but I did not get tempted to haggle for anything. My friend Tina did come away with a kaftan which we got at a reasonable price.

The best part of the lunch was what the waiter described as a Moroccan Pizza and it was delicious and fairly sweet, not sure of all the ingredients (probably better not to know as it had some chicken)

There was some entertainment put on. I could not get a clear picture of the belly dancer but this guy was quite a contortionist.

There was also some traditional music played.

We arrived back at our appartment, at the end of a very long day feeling very tired. Nevertheless it was an experience we all agreed we would not have missed. We saw a very different way of life and it certainly made us appreciate all the things we take for granted like clean running water, clean shops and regular employment.

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At 26/3/07 18:38, Blogger East of Oregon said...

wow - looks like a fabulous trip! glad you enjoyed it :)

At 26/3/07 19:21, Blogger enidd said...

enidd loves morocco. well, marrakesh anyway. did you buy a carpet?

At 26/3/07 19:59, Blogger Beccy said...

You managed to fit in a lot of sights in one day.

At 26/3/07 20:13, Blogger ChrisB said...

east of oregon yes it was one of the highlights of the week

enidd now I would really love to see marrakesh. Couldn't carry a carpet and couldn't afford to get one shipped.(but you've given me an idea for a future post)

beccy writing this I realised that although you don't realise it at the time.

At 26/3/07 20:19, Blogger Sally Lomax said...

What a good blog. Great pictures. One day in Morocco with the rest in Spain is about the right balance though I think!


At 26/3/07 20:49, Anonymous swampwitch said...

No need for me to travel today...have been to Morocco with you ! Now, I don't even have the energy to go to the grocery store. Love the pictures. What did you buy?

At 26/3/07 22:55, Blogger ChrisB said...

swampwitch whistle stop tour. I bought mainly spices and some musk perfume

At 27/3/07 03:59, Blogger frannie said...

what a busy day!

The chickens sound like the ones my husband describes from Thailand and Laos-- very scrawny.

At 27/3/07 06:10, Anonymous Karmyn said...

That looks like such a great trip. I can't wait to get there someday.

Okay - but giving up my passport is kind of scary.

My father was traveling to the Middle east for business and his plane had to land in Lebanon (in the early 90's). Being American, the airline took his passport and gave him a generic pass so he could stay in a hotel. My dad said it was very unnerving. His car got stopped about every 4-5 blocks by big men with machine guns and his pass checked. (he was glad not to have his big AMERICAN passport then)

At 27/3/07 06:43, Blogger Pamela said...

picture #2 of the city just mesmerized me.

At 27/3/07 09:14, Blogger ChrisB said...

pamela I can't take credit for this photo it was onr taken by the guide but I wanted to show the density of the city.

At 27/3/07 10:40, Blogger ChrisB said...

sally you're right but they are trying to make things more attractive to tourists so we did see evidence of developments along the coast.

karmyn we were worried because identity fraud has become big business here, everyone seems to want to come to the UK for all the freebies.

frannie that is exactly what they looked like they actually made me feel sick to see them.

At 27/3/07 13:25, Blogger Steffi said...

Thank you for stopping in my blog!Your pictures of your travel are wonderful.

At 27/3/07 14:15, Blogger ChrisB said...

steffi thank you.

At 27/3/07 15:58, Anonymous mark said...

That looks like one amazing holiday. Great pictures! I'm jealous.

At 27/3/07 17:29, Blogger The Artist formerly Known as Purpleworms (!) said...

Great pictures! I'm enjoying your travels too! What is in the salve that sems to be working on the psoriasis? My husband also suffers from this and has been fighting it for years. He is currently seeing a Chinese Medical Doctor about it.

At 27/3/07 20:11, Blogger Beccy said...

Yes tell us Mum, Joules is now sufferinf from a bit of psoriasis.

At 27/3/07 20:58, Blogger ChrisB said...

mark this trip was certainly an eye opener.

purpleworms and beccy I haven't yet looked at the web site for oil and cream. There are no indications on the pots as to content. Cream has almond oil from the smell and the oil just smell disgusting. I was a bit wary but thought it was worth a try and its certainly taken away the dryness and reduced scaling but red patches are still visible. If I can find out more I will let you know.
Beccy I bet its all the stress causing Joule's that's what did it for me. (has it been diagnosed properly I don't recommend a steroid cream side effects etc)

At 27/3/07 21:35, Blogger IMAutoPilot said...

Thanks for sharing your wonderful trip to Morocco! We're planning a trip to Spain in the not so distant future, and we'll save this post for the information you've provided. The pictures tell so much of your Moroccan experience.

At 28/3/07 06:25, Anonymous shelly said...

Does the oil smell like really bad, sulfurous sesame oil? If so, it might be neem oil. Neem oil, derived from the neem tree, has various medicinal applications.

The "Moroccan pizza" you ate might be bastilla, a sweet, cinnamon-laced chicken pastry.

Beautiful pics! Sounds like you had a great time.

At 28/3/07 08:53, Blogger ChrisB said...

Shelly thank you so much for this info- I researched bastilla and ureka this is definitely it. I have now found a couple of recipes so am going to try making my version.

As to the oil I have also searched and found it is actually 'Black cumin oil' (Huile de Nigelle) but I'm going to have a look at neem oil to see what that is used for.

At 28/3/07 16:03, Anonymous Robin said...

What a fantastic travelogue! You DID manage to pack in a lot for such a short visit.

The only "missing" picture is the belly dancer, guess she was moving more quickly than Mr. Contortionist ;).

At 28/3/07 17:16, Blogger ChrisB said...

robin I did try to take a pic of the belly dancer. unfortunately we were sat at the back and each time I took a shot someone got on the way so I only caught her head.

At 31/3/07 21:50, Blogger Sam said...

mum - there is a nice looking bastilla recipe in The Cooks Book.

The picture always catches my eye.


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