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Day 8 - April 25, 2010 - Morocco, Tangier

By Hans-Peter Reinthaler, Biologist

Co-ordinates: 35°47´N; 05°48´W
Weather: sunny

At around 8 o’clock in the morning, the Prince Albert II entered the Strait of Gibraltar, the narrow passage between the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, which separates the African continent from the European. Today we got alongside on the African coast, exactly in the port of Tangier.

For today, two excursions were planned to explore Tangier and surroundings. The first one took our guests to the little town of Tetouan including an afternoon visit of the medina in Tangier. The second in the afternoon included a bus tour to Cap Spartel, Hercules Cave and also a visit of the medina of Tangier.

As I accompanied the tour in the afternoon, I stayed on board for the morning doing some updates on the bulletin board. The following report on the whole day tour was written by my colleague Nicki Denarie.

The drive took about 1 ½ hrs each way, through very lush and green countryside. On the way, a lot of typical sights could be seen: little boys with their donkeys or herding sheep and the Berber women with their typical hats. Arriving in Tetouan, it was all on foot, first through the more modern part of the town with a nice pedestrian area flanked by lots of shops and then into the Jewish quarter and the medina of Tetouan with lots of winding narrow streets. The guests enjoyed this part the most. We had added a refreshment stop at a nice restaurant in the middle of the medina before we continued on the walking tour through the old part of the town. Unfortunately, the museum we were supposed to visit was closed so we continued back to Tangiers and decided to visit the archaeological museum there instead. A late lunch was served in Tangiers with folkloric entertainment and belly dancing. The restaurant was very typical in its decoration and the food was very good. After lunch, we visited the archaeological museum of Tangiers and then were able to enjoy some free time in the medina of Tangiers for some shopping. Guests returned happy back to the ship.

The afternoon tour started from the ship at 14.00 heading directly through the modern part and outskirts of Tangier to Cap Spartel. Looking at the Atlantic Ocean with its deep blue water and white waves, a lush green pine forest on shore side and on the outer most point the light house of Cap Spartel, the outlook at cap is really spectacular.

A little bit further to the south of the cap, the tour stopped the second time and we visited the Hercules Cave. The entrance to the cave is flanked by some souvenir kiosks where people in the traditional “djellaba” offered handicrafts, fossils and other typical Moroccan souvenirs. The cave itself was once washed out by the sea and is now something between 100 and 150 meters long and divided in several chambers. The ocean at low tide is about five meters below sea level and some young boys make a fun out of it to jump from a rock of the cave into the sea.

From the cave we headed directly back to Tangier, passing by the impressive palaces of the king of Saudi Arabia and of course the king of Morocco. In town we first had refreshment in a nice little restaurant near the Kasbah, where mint tea and cookies were served. Additional our guests could enjoy a belly dance performance with typical Arabian music. A very informative visit to the archeological museum and an interesting walk through the narrow streets of the Kasbah completed the first part of our tour in Tangier.

Just going some steps down from the Kasbah we landed in the middle of the Medina, the old part of Tangier. Innumerous shops, where leather, carpets, jewelry, clothes and so on were sold make the medina a hotspot of life in Tangier. After 45 minutes zigzagging across the medina and looking and smelling that entire oriental world, we got back to the bus and from there back to the ship.

In the evening, Expedition Leader Conrad Combrink gave a briefing to our guests about the two following days and my colleague Olga Stavrakis held a recap regarding the flamenco dance.

After a long day, our guests enjoyed a well-deserved, excellent dinner in The Restaurant.

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