Getting up this morning we were psyched to finally get to Morocco. Our plan was to get the boat from Algeciras to the new port at Tangier MED. We had heard that this was much less crowded and that there were no “helpers” bothering you. From there we were going south to the town of Chefchaouen in 111 KM.
It was simple to get tickets on the main road in the center of town near the port. They are all the same price and so just pick one of the shops. They all sell tickets for all the ferry lines. We picked the one that was the “Burquebus dealer” so it “looed” a bit more reputable. We bought tickets at 945 for the 10 am ferry and arrived at the boat at 5 to 10.
It is super easy to find where to go you just follow the signs like breadcrumbs.
You check in at the gate, show your ticket, and head to the boat. There is a secondary checkpoint where you need to show your ticket again.
There is a third set of booths, but you just drive past these.
You are directed where to load and the crew secures the bikes for you. Then you go up on deck to enjoy the 90 min crossing of the straight and the view of Africa!
On board there is a food service and duty free liquor sale!
Our first views of Africa!
There is a passport control on board and you must fill out a tourist paper and receive a tourist number stamp in your passport. There is also a passport check at disembarkation.
Arriving at Tangier MED (the new port) is very civilized. After you show your passport as you exit the boat you just follow the big green exit signs.
Drive past the police kiosks and you are directed to the aduana parking.
Here an agent will greet you and tell you what information to fill out on the temporary import card. This can all be done ahead of time on line and printed off at http://www.douane.gov.ma/d16ter/formAT.jsf . If you do this all you need is the date, tourist number, and signature. He also asked us if we had any arms or guns and any Catholic books. Luckily they did not ask us if we had any alcohol, which you can buy very cheaply at the duty free on board the ship. You will be asked by the border control to open your pannier lids and step away from the bike so the drug dogs can go over it. Then you take your passport and walk back to the police kiosk. Here the officer will ask if this is your first visit to Morocco and will verify your tourist number. From here you are free to go.
You just keep following the exit signs and you will pass a row of money exchange places to get some Dirham.
WOW that was easy and we are in Morocco. We are certainly not in Kansas anymore Dorothy!
We had just a 111 km drive south to Chefchaouen.
This was our first Moroccan lunch….We are going to loose weight here I think.
We were headed to the hotel recommended by a fellow rider. It was on the GPS, recommended by a rider, and so stupidly we did not check the location further. We had decided ahead of time we would not stay in the old citys or Medinas. These were built before vehicles and are essentially pedestrian only. The hotels there are usually not accessible by road and in general do not have parking on or off site. This means you need to wander around on foot to find the not so easy to find hotel and then carry all your stuff there and then find secure parking for the bike. This hotel was IN the Medina and when we eventually found it we told them we would have to go somewhere else. We did find a nice place nearby on the road outside.
Arriving to the city the GPS directed us up into the steep narrow cobbled road and to a blocked off construction zone. The next was to some serious off road and then impassable road. Finally turned around we made it to the paved road, but it ended 500 m from the hotel at the gate to the Medina. This is the old part of the city that existed before cars and is generally a maze of narrow walking paths.
Now what to do. The local taxi driver said, “No problem you can drive there from here thru the Medina (one generally never drives in a medina). “Its easy there are just a few stairs. “ Actually you “can” drive thru and we did, but not to the hotel which only has foot traffic access. This was breaking our rule of Morocco “no hotels in the Medinas”. When we finally found the hotel we did not stay there, but found another just outside with onsite parking.
We could then tour the Medina on foot. The blue and white color of the buildings is quite stunning.
The shops in the old city are in an area called the souika.
Every town and village has a mosque and the call to prayer 5 times per day is sung from the top of the minaret.
We enjoyed a couscous dinner with a view of the fort and square.