Tangine in Tangier

I spent most of my time in Morocco at Tangier.  My hotel was in the kashbah, the fortified upper part of the old city overlooking the port. For first rate service, and a plentiful breakfast on a rooftop terrace, stay at La Maison Blanche. (http://www.lamaisonblanchetanger.com/)

My top-floor room had a window overlooking other rooftops. What struck me most while looking at the other rooftops was the contrasts. Some roofs are quite inviting while others have practical purposes – hanging clothes and storage.

Kashbah rooftop
Kashbah rooftop
Another kashbah rooftop view
Another kashbah rooftop view
Cat on the kashbah
Cat on the kashbah

Two ferry companies service the Tarifa, Spain – Tangier route. The 40-minute crossing was smooth and uneventful. An officer stamps passports during the trip. All I needed to do when I landed in Tangier was have my luggage scanned.

In many ways, staying in the Tangier kashbah is like a stay in a European town. Instead of church bells in the morning, the call to prayer echoes through the air several times a day. Instead of a vegetable vendor calling “Frutta fresca” and “Vendura fresche”, a fish merchant pushes a cart laden with fish every morning. His call is the Arabic equivalent of “fresh fish,  get your fresh fish here”.

Two of the three nights I ate dinner in the  kasbah. The first night, I dined on food from the El Morocco Club. The club was packed so a server delivered dinner to my hotel. I enjoyed every bite of my meal. El Morocco serves French Moroccan cuisine and liquor.

The second night, I ate in a small restaurant which appeared to be the first floor of someone’s home.  The chef/owner arrived in Tangier years ago. Her chicken tangine is wonderful and includes vegetables I have never seen before.

On my last full day in Tangier, my guide took me to Assilah. We drove along the coast.  The beaches on the route are deserted with some  pockets of development.  My guide explained that Morocco doesn’t have a beach culture. Many owners of beach estates are from other countries. Stops along the way included Cape Spartel lighthouse and the  Cave of Hercules. Unfortunately, my camera card went bad during the ride to Assilah and I do not have any photos from the ride.

Detail of the roof of an entryway for a private estate
Detail of the roof of an entryway for a private estate

My guide found a camera shop outside the walled town. They were able to transfer the images from the defective card to a new card.  Onto the walled town!

Map of walled town
Map of walled town
Low tide
Low tide

The streets of the Assilah were almost empty that December Saturday.

Elevated walkway between buildings
Elevated walkway between buildings

Every year, Assilah hosts an international mural competition.  The murals remain until the next competition.  Many of the murals are  colorful.

Mural outside a school
Mural outside a school

I found the Mujaheddin Graveyard very interesting. Instead of gravestones, each grave is covered with tiles. Each family has a particular tile pattern.

Mujaheddin Graveyard with tiled grave markers
Mujaheddin Graveyard with tiled grave markers

Looking back on this trip, there were times when my lack of local language skills made me uneasy. When I got over my discomfort and relaxed a bit, I enjoyed the trip. In reality, my greatest discomfort occurred on my return to Europe. Security was very tight due to a recent incident. The ferry passengers stood single file waiting to see passport control.  Armed guards scrutinized the people in line. Sadly, security is necessary precaution.

I would like to visit Morocco again…ride a camel  into the desert and sleep in a Berber tent…see Marrakesh, Casa Blanca and Chefchaouen.

Ireland by Car

An iconic three leaf clover
An iconic three leaf clover

A road trip is the best way to visit the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.  Unlike many European countries, trains are scarce in rural areas. From the USA, you can fly into Shannon (County Clare) in the west or Dublin airport in the east.

At first, the thought of driving on the right side of the road was intimating until a taxi driver in Dublin advised, “Follow the guy in front of you. Make wide left turns and close right turns.”

Busy roundabouts were other stressors.  Learn the roundabout rules – cars in the roundabout have the right of way and move to the inner lanes if you are exiting at the 3rd or 4th turn.

The best piece of advice I can give you about renting a car in Ireland is buy full insurance coverage on the rental car. Spend the money on vehicle replacement cost insurance. We observed rental agency associates examining every inch of every returned vehicle. A few scratches from a roadside bush, or a mirror shattered hitting a fence post to avoid a tour bus on a narrow road could cost you more than the insurance.

Ooops!
Oops!

Slea Head Drive is a scenic circular coastal drive that begins and ends in Dingle. The road is narrow and most of the sites (famine era cottage, stone huts, and feeding the animals) are a steep uphill walk.

Slea Head Drive
Slea Head Drive

https://www.dingle-peninsula.ie/attractions-on-the-dingle-peninsula-co-kerry/outdoor-attractions/the-slea-head-drive-sli-cheann-sleibhe.html

Famine era cottage
Famine era cottage
Another famine era cottage
Another famine era cottage
Inch Strand Beach
Inch Strand Beach

Animal lovers of all ages will enjoy the opportunity to feed the sheep, goats, horses, and donkey at the Fairy Fort on Slea Head Drive. For a nominal fee (3 euros at the time of this writing) you can explore the fairy fort and feed the animals. This is one attraction that does not require a steep climb to visit. In case you are wondering, fairy forts are what the Irish call the remains of earthen circular dwellings  created during the late Iron Age  through the first centuries of the Christian era.

Feeding the animals
Feeding the animals
Beehive huts
Beehive huts

Slea Head Drive is less well known than the Ring of Kerry Drive which reduces the amount of traffic you will encounter.