Monday, December 07, 2009

Tangier - the truth

Full of hustlers, swindlers and corrupt officials perpetrating nefarious dealings and endless scams to outwit the tourist ... that's Tangier, right?
the Grand Socco at night

Wrong! The View from Fez recently spent a couple of days in a city that has a lot more charm than the guidebooks would have you believe. True, we were offered a watch or a pair of sunglasses on one occasion, and once someone offered to show us the medina, but that was as far as the hassles went. With its colourful past and busy port, the city still has a raffish air to it, redolent of the days when it was an International Zone and attracted artists and writers. Nevertheless, it offers some interesting places to visit, good accommodation in all price brackets, excellent restaurants and a fascinating medina that isn't too daunting to explore.

One charming guesthouse is La Tangerina, perched right at the top of the Kasbah and overlooking the sea, with views across to Spain.

the terrace at La Tangerina

Next door is the exclusive Nord Pinus guesthouse with equally stunning views. It has fabulously romantic rooms and an excellent restaurant; the retro bar and terraces are perfect for an aperitif.

the dining room at Nord Pinus

The Kasbah is a good place to start a wander through the medina. Here you'll find the newly renovated Kasbah Museum set in the Sultan's Gardens. Further down into the medina, Majid's shop is a must-see. Three floors of jewellery, carpets, hendiras, fabrics, embroidery, ceramics and wooden artefacts will have you drooling.

a tempting display at Majid's

Next stop is the Petit Socco, a small square with lots of cafes where you can watch the world go by.
Just outside the medina, The American Legation is definitely worth a visit. Entry is free to this beautiful Moorish house that houses maps of Morocco, a room devoted to Tangier resident Paul Bowles and fine art by various artists including James McBey: the famous portrait of his servant has earned the title of Morocco's Mona Lisa.

portraint of Zohra, American Legation Museum

After all this walking, you'll have earned a glass of mint tea in one of the cafes surrounding the Grand Socco, or even a drink in the Caid's Bar at the old-fashioned but stylish El Minzah Hotel.

Where to eat in Tangier
A excellent option in the medina is the newly-opened Le Nabab at 4 Rue Al Kadiria (ph 0661 442 220). Set in a well-restored former souk, it has interesting decor, very friendly service and good traditional fare. There's a fireplace for cold winter nights, and musical events on some weekends.

Restaurant Le Nabab

Our favourite for dinner was Les Passagers de Tangier, overlooking the Grand Socco. The food was refreshingly different and of a very high standard. The View from Fez team sampled coquilles St Jacques in a garlicky sauce, and the magret de canard with mango and peach sauce. There's a terrace as well as comfortable seating inside.

dinner at Les Passagers de Tanger

All in all, we'd say that Tangier has left its bad reputation behind and is a city definitely worth exploring for a day or two.

Photographs: Sandy McCutcheon


Anonymous said...

Great summary of Tangier..I have copied this and hope to include Tangier on our next trip. I had read a few articles touting the new fashionable Tangier and this confirmed it. Thank you.

The View from Fez Team said...

The View from Fez tour next year will also include Tangier. Our investigations there in the last weeks have convinced us of what a great place it is to spend a few days.

hmida said...

Vision bien idyllique de Tanger, presque mythique!

Mais ce n'est pas le vrai Tanger : ce que tu montres c'est un Tanger pour touristes, avec beaucoup de nostalgie coloniale!

Oui...après tout tout pourquoi, pas?

Personnellement, j'ai une autre vision de cette ville, de son passé et de son présent, bref de son mythe ....

Lisez mes billets à ce sujet,vous verrez "un autre Tanger"

Unknown said...

I like to go to tangier in april
I just want to know is it safe to travel alone.

Helen Ranger said...

Hello Yasemin
Yes, I think it's perfectly safe for a woman to travel alone to Tangier. I've done it myself. Obviously you wouldn't walk the streets late at night, particularly around the harbour, as in any city, but in general Morocco is a safe country for women travellers.

Anonymous said...

Janice Ramos,
Hey Yasemin, I don´t know if you did the insanity of going to Tanger all by yourself, if you didn´t than don´t. Tanger is dangerous for people to go alone. Don´t know if you are a man or woman, but if you are a woman, you´ll run the risk of being kidnapped and raped. The woman slavery market there is known. Research google, and you´ll see. This article is very romantic, reality is another thing.

Pamela said...

Hello Yasemin! Please do not be put off by the previous comment! I have been three times to Tanger by myself. The myth of dangerous Tanger is just that - a myth. Of course you should act as you would in any big city. But it is not as dangerous as say Madrid or London! It is a fun place with mostly kind considerate people. Enjoy it!

Kate said...

I agree with Pamela. The post by Janice Ramos is both irresponsible and just plain wrong.

Traveling alone around Tangier has never been a problem for me. I agree with the article in that Tangier used to have a bad reputation for hassles and so on. But Janice! I suggest you take your medication and cool down!

Anonymous said...

I would disagree... I believe tangier to be seedy. Everyone I've met gets hassled endlessly and there are people huffing in the streets. Beautiful but at a price