Aimlessly walking through the medina

Sunday, November 10, 2013 @ 06:38 pm from Morocco Morocco
Day 137

I slept pretty well last night. It was nice not having to deal with snorers, doors opening and closing, people moving around above or below me on bunk beds, plus the bed here is really comfortable. This morning I had a great breakfast at the hotel. For 55 Dh you get fresh squeezed orange juice, coffee, fruit (bananas, grapes, plums, apples), several Moroccan breads (including a delicious mix between a crepe and pancake called a Baghrir), a croissant, jam, honey, olive oil and goat cheese.

When I sat down, I was joined by a guy named Ben from New York. I'm glad he sat down or else there would have been an enormous amount of food left over. My goal was to make breakfast my biggest meal of the day since there was so much delicious food at my disposal. I ate or tried just about everything that was served to the table.

Ben used to work here when he was a kid and has visited many times throughout the years. I had read you shouldn't drink the water here which I hadn't done yet, but I wanted to confirm this. I asked him and he said I'd be better off buying bottled water. After breakfast I went out and bought 5 liters of water for about $1.50 which should last me a good part of the week.

After dropping the water off at the hotel and being sufficiently stuffed and caffeinated from breakfast I set out for the medina. I didn't really have any kind of destination in mind, and with no destination it's impossible to get lost, right? I walked around the maze of winding streets through all the leather, brass and antique shops plus all the people selling fruit and vegetables on the streets. There's even a huge indoor meat and fish market. The smells in those areas are quite overpowering.

I mostly stuck to the heavily trafficked paths but I did get out of those for a bit and walked into the areas where you could tell tourists don't normally go. Eventually I stumbled up to the Bab-el-Assa and the Kasbah Museum. There were some really nice panoramic views from the area of the Strait of Gibralter and Europe. I went into the Kasbah Museum for the equivalent of $1 USD. It was the former home of sultans and was converted into a big museum that showcased the history of Tangier from prehistoric times through the present. None of the displays were in English so I had to try and get the gist of what was going on by reading the Spanish information. Included in the museum is access to the gardens which were really nice. They had orange trees, banana trees and tropical plants and trees of all sorts.

One of the big drinks here is mint tea. All of the travel sites and blogs I've read about Tangier say that you have to drink some of the mint tea. It was lunch time and I still wasn't hungry due to the huge breakfast so I walked around trying to find a place to drink a tea. One of the issues I faced is that a lot of the cafes don't have menus or only have menus in Arabic which is completely non-legible to someone who doesn't know the language. Eventually I found a cafe with a menu in French and ordered a tea for 10 Dh (about $1.25).

The cafe was in the Grand Socco overlooking the main circle near my hotel. The tea itself was amazing. Imagine the best mojito you've ever had but instead of rum they used hot tea. That's pretty much what this tea was like. I sat out and people watched for a while before the bees started getting attracted to my empty glass.

I came back to the hotel to read and relax for a while. By about 4 I was getting hungry enough to want to venture out for dinner. I had seen a place selling shawarma (an Indian stuffed pita style meal) for 20 Dh just down the street from the hotel. I went there and ordered one and it was amazing. They basically filled a pita with chicken, corn, lettuce, tomato, onion and some sauce and then hot pressed it all together.

On the way back I saw some people selling clemintines for 2 Dh / kilo which is a crazy good deal. I picked up a kilo of them for the equivalent of 25 cents so I'd have some fresh oranges to snack on all week. Back at the hotel I went up to the rooftop terrace where they have some seats and I finished my Game of Thrones book. When I finished the sun was setting so I hung out there and watched the city as the sun went down.

It was a really good day. I wasn't hassled when walking through the medina (although I did see the vendors flocking to the cruise ship tour groups where they knew there was easy money to be made). I guess walking around as a solo dude without a camera strung around your neck makes you less of a target.
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Delicious breakfast at Dar El Kasbah
Teaser photo
In the Tangier medina
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Cool bench/alcove
Teaser photo
Rooftop terrace of Dar El Kasbah

Where this entry was written:

Where I've been:

Good Evening… Planet Earth
All the countries I visited on this trip (in yellow).

What's this about?

Traveling is something I've loved doing for as long as I can remember. I've been lucky enough to travel out of the US a few times but never longer than 2 weeks at a time. I decided that I should go see the world and experience all it has to offer. I booked a one-way ticket to Dublin, Ireland to depart on June 26, 2013. After I get to Europe I'll let serendipity take hold and see where I end up. No schedules and no itinerary… just go with the flow. That's as close to a plan as I'm making.

Who am I?

My name's Brandon O'Brien and I'm a travelholic. Before this journey I've been to 11 countries and put over 17,500 miles on various motorcycle trips through the USA and Canada. I'm a self-employed web developer so I'm fortunate enough to be able to work anywhere there's an internet connection. That's what truly made this experience possible.

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