© Aussies In Morocco Tours
*Continuing our series of dialing up sensory sensitivity. If you have been following it, you have probably already read Cara’s introductory explanation here.
Spies and traitors. Writers and musicians. Wandering hippies ready to make their way through Morocco. What do they all have in common? Tangier. It’s been inhabited since before the 10th century BC and those in control have changed hands multiple times. Thanks to this Tangier has a unique feel and history.
One of the most interesting areas of Tangier to see is the old kasbah, and it’s truly worth spending time walking through its streets and alleys. The kasbah is a unique blend of new and old and you can absolutely feel the layers of history and hundreds of stories swirling the streets. You might catch some glimpses that remind you of the palette of Matisse – that’s because he too was inspired by this area. (In fact we talk more about Matisse’s time in Morocco in our blog post here and about a tour following his footsteps here. The Kasbah Museum is a good stop for those who are interested in the history of Tangier as it’s full of artifacts that explain and share its story.
The Cinema Rif is a cultural institution in Tangier and a real pleasure for the eyes and ears to encounter. Located on the Grand Socco, the building itself is an art deco relic and the cinema does play films; they are more of an art house/avant garde feel, so don’t expect blockbusters. One of the recent efforts is to support and promote African cinema. Watching and listening to an engaging, thought-provoking film is certainly an authentic way to experience Tangier!
One thing that Tangier is not short on is cafés. The smells of baked goods and great coffee are everywhere. They are an integral part of the culture and play an important historical role. Café Central, Gran Café de Paris, Le Tangerine and Café Baba are just a few of the perhaps lesser known, but important, cafés in the development of Beat Generation literature. Giants of twentieth century literature, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Tennessee Williams, William S Burroughs, Truman Capote, came here for inspiration and relaxation in the 1950s and 60s. Pick a café, pull up a chair and order a strong coffee or fresh mint tea first thing in the morning. Let the scent of that first sip take you back to another time and imagine the Tangier that was. Maybe you have a copy of Burrough’s classic, Naked Lunch, to flick through while you compare it with the atmosphere of modern Tangier.
When walking the streets of Tangier, you can’t miss the vendors with their carts selling a wide variety of different foods and drinks. The one item you should keep on your radar is kalinte – this is a dish only made in the north of Morocco. The texture and taste are similar to French socca or Italian farinata. It is a chickpea pancake that has a very soft texture. Usually it’s cooked in the community wood-burning oven, so it has a slight smokey taste. Kalinte is served by the slice, warm and garnished with cumin and either regular or spicy paprika. It’s truly a very unique food item in this part of the country. Incidentally, the word Kalinte is also pretty similar to the Spanish word caliente for hot (in all senses of the term!).
With plenty of things to “touch” in Tangier our suggestion is to “feel” the movement of the TGV train that runs from Tangier to Casablanca. The Al-Boraq train is Africa’s first high speed train and it completes what was a nearly five hour journey, in just over two. It used to be impossible to take a day trip to Tangier (or Casablanca, or Rabat) because the travel time was just too great. However, this new train line has made it possible and it’s a really great, and affordable experience. A hint though – never travel in Morocco without a small supply of tissues in your handbag, as these can double up as toilet paper as Moroccan trains and indeed, other places, have been known to run out of it! And if you are buying them from a street urchin, don’t bargain with him over such a small albeit important item, just pay the price he asks and in dirhams. Euros are of no use to these little humans.
If this has you wondering how soon you can schedule an experience in Tangier, we’d love to help! Our private tours can include the things that are most important to you and make sure you get to experience the best this city – and all of Morocco – has to offer. Tangier will be particularly relevant to you if you are coming from Spain, as many flights from Europe land in Tangier, plus there is the ferry from Spain to Tangier too. If Tangier is of particular interest to you, we talk about other things you can do in Tangier in another one of our blog posts here.
Contact us on aussiesinmoroccotours.com.au and begin making plans.
A copy of this blog post is available to clients for reading, downloading and printing, via our Client Resources page.
Published March 2021