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Our Tarifa to Tangier Experience

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Seattle, Washington
posts: 128
reviews: 47
Our Tarifa to Tangier Experience

There are many other postings on this topic but felt it warranted a short description of our journey. We took the 9:00 a.m. ferry to Tangier from Tarifa without any glitches (parked right in the FRS ferry lot for 16 euros). Do get your passport stamped on board the ferry before disembarking. We did this first thing before finding a seat.

We did not book any tour for our day trip as read extensively before choosing our own path - we are two adults in our 50s.

The biggest hurdle/challenge was getting out of the port. We were bombarded by many who were taxi drivers or tour operators. We tried to get a taxi immediately (petite taxis) to Café Paris but none would take us for a cheap ride. We were followed by a taxi driver who would not take no for an answer but did direct us to the money exchange. We proceeded to exchange money at the port exchange; however, one does not need to change money over but use euros - all accepted these or pounds.

We walked out of the port and again was followed by a gentleman who would not leave us alone - it took another man to tell him to leave us and got us a taxi to Café Paris. The man who would not leave us alone asked if we "hated Muslims". Never in our life have we ever been accused of this traveling abroad and we have traveled to other Muslim countries. interesting interaction to say the least.

We arrived at Café Paris and our journey started to improve immediately!! The waiter was wonderful and set us at ease, assisting us with directions, etc. We enjoyed outside a mint tea and coffee. We then proceeded to Hotel El Minzah for a glimpse as it was beautiful and offered a great bathroom stop. Since we just had tea / coffee, we didn't partake in that there but would recommend that or Café Paris as a first stop.

We then set off on our journey down to the grand souk, Kasbah, and small petit souk and then back to the port (not one bothered us upon our return).

We walked all around the streets, stopped in the shops, chatting with vendors, ate at a lovely restaurant, and checked out the hidden gems that it offered with plenty of picture taking moments.

We were not harassed by any means once we got out of the port. We found those in large groups were harassed but if you were alone just say no thank you with a smile and they would walk away since they money is in the large groups. ;

Note it takes time to get through the customs/passport check so plan on getting there early for your return ferry ride.

We would probably not return to Tangier as Morocco has other delightful sites to see. We are glad to have gone though and to experienced it as that is what travel is all about! in our opinions.


Edited: 8:55 am, September 15, 2013
1. Re: Our Tarifa to Tangier Experience

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Edited: 7:52 am, October 28, 2013
Tangier, Morocco
Destination Expert
for Tangier
posts: 469
reviews: 11
2. Re: Our Tarifa to Tangier Experience

Thank you for taking the time to file this report. It's such a shame that tourists are given so much hassle down by the port. You did the right thing by smiling and keep saying "No, thanks" (LA SHUKRAN in Moroccan arabic) and keep walking towards the town. As you found out, it's not far, and there are plenty of small taxis who are going about their normal business in town and not just lying in wait for ferry passengers. You are right in saying that the groups get the most hassle, since they are rather like sitting ducks in that you can spot them a mile off. Glad you did your research before coming. It sounds as if it paid off, as you seem to have had a not unpleasant wander round Tangier. I would recommend everyone to do as you did: research and go-it-alone is in my opinion far preferable to having to stick with a group.

Agadir city Morocco
posts: 57
reviews: 1
3. Re: Our Tarifa to Tangier Experience

Thanks you very much for your report

Seattle, Washington
posts: 128
reviews: 47
4. Re: Our Tarifa to Tangier Experience

Hello Zohor!

Yes, we did state in Arabic numerous times no thank you but everyone understood English quite well and found English worked best most of all; everyone then respected our wishes.

I agree, walking around on our own was quite worthy and stumbling upon a restaurant that had both locals and non was a treat as well!

It was a pleasure visiting your city and a bit of the country. We hope to return someday to explore further.

Whiting, New Jersey
posts: 5
5. Re: Our Tarifa to Tangier Experience

Great post! Would love to do exactly as you did, but I feel very uncomfortable thomking about it! guess I feel comfort in groups! We are from the states and find the Moroccan customs so intriguing! Sounds like the groups might have more harassment!! Will give this some tjought!

Seattle, Washington
posts: 128
reviews: 47
6. Re: Our Tarifa to Tangier Experience

Anne R, take a look at Rick Steve's Southern Spain book has he does a great job on the Tangier, Morocco section. Also, here on TA everyone was also helpful with suggestions as well. The most important thing is for you to feel comfortable in any situation to enjoy the experience. I would still go solo instead of a group if we were to do it again. Enjoy!!

Visalia, California
posts: 6
reviews: 11
7. Re: Our Tarifa to Tangier Experience

Enjoyed your post. When you say it takes time to get thru customs to get back on the ferry - can you give a rough estimate? We are going in November.

Seattle, Washington
posts: 128
reviews: 47
8. Re: Our Tarifa to Tangier Experience

The wait to get through customs probably took us about 30-40 minutes even though the lines themselves were not that long due to the time it takes them to review each and every passport. In front of us were large families. So, given that, it could take longer or shorter depending. The tour groups went through as a large group together so if you are in a tour group your process may be different than if you were not; we were a party of two. Remember, there is not only tourist going across but persons who probably go back and forth between Morocco and Spain all the time.

New York City, New...
posts: 1
9. Re: Our Tarifa to Tangier Experience

We had a similar experience to the original poster this week after getting off of the ferry at Tangier on October 4. Before we could grab our bags in the security line, make sure we had our passports, and generally collect ourselves, we were being hustled by tour guides. The first man was friendly enough, but we firmly and politely told him, "No thank you" at least 20 times before he finally left us alone. Annoying yes, but we can deal with it; everyone needs to make a living.

No sooner had he gone away did another younger man appear, who was much more aggressive, sarcastic, fake, and condescending. He talked very quickly, attempted to confuse us by asking us constant questions and chatter as we were trying navigate down the platform and orient ourselves after landing on a new continent. We also told him repeatedly, "la shukran" and "no thank you", but he followed us for 20 minutes to continue making idle chatter. At one point, he represented himself as part of FRS ferry company and showed a red sticker attached to the back of his wallet, clearly fake. As we walked closer to the city, he got increasingly agressive and attempted to scare us from visiting without a guide, and told us there would be "3-4 people deep on us the entire time" hassling us in Tangier. He told me (an American woman in her 30s) I would be harassed the entire time and people would cuss and yell at me in the town because...(I still don't know?) I was dressed appropriately - extremely conservatively, and completely covered. He also told us it was impolite to say "la" to him and we just needed to say thank you. The experience was not only highly uncomfortable, it made us feel totally unsafe as we were attempting to find the right street to cross, and he was going out of his way to distract us and make us feel as out of our element as possible. He finally went away, about FIFTY "La shukrans" later. By that point, he had done his work - made us feel totally unsure of ourselves in this new city/country/continent. I was questioning what I was wearing (asking myself, "Should I get back on the boat? Am I going to offend anyone here?"). Thank goodness I shook it off, but I will tell you it really shook me for a good hour after the experience.

Once calmed down, we had a lovely time exploring an amazing place - mainly the old town, but also the new town. We ate a delicious lunch of chicken cous cous at Hotel Intercontinenal and met its fascinating and friendly shopkeeper. We drank coffee at the infamous Cafe de Paris. And we bought delicious spices (paprika, rasal al hanout) in the market at excellent prices. We love Moroccan food and were inspired by a previous trip to Marrakech. Friendly town once you get past the port.

The port is a major shame because for many visitors, this is their first impression after stepping on to an entirely new continent for the very first time. Even for a seasoned traveler and someone who has done their research, it was just too much. It almost made us turn around get right back on the ferry. The police are right there. Someone needs to take charge down there and take care of the situation. If I were to recommend this experience to someone, I would recommend going with a tour group. We wanted to be able to experience this magical and complex place on our own - without a group - but this seems difficult to do here unless the port situation is remedied.

Edited: 7:00 pm, October 06, 2013
Marrakech, Morocco
Destination Expert
for Morocco
posts: 2,406
reviews: 66
10. Re: Our Tarifa to Tangier Experience

I've added this thread to the Top Questions as there is some good info here for daytrippers - shame that visitors first experiences are often negative, similar with the hassle of dealing with taxi drivers at airports and train stations.

I know that the advice is often a polite 'no thank you' or 'la shukran', but sometimes completely ignoring the husslers is the best way as they see any form of conversation as an invite to engage.