Saturday 18th October – I’m a Princess really, I was just pretending to like it!

Still a way to go…This is the very picturesque old train station. I ran back to get a pic as had just put the camera away as we came in. Algeciras sounds like a Muslim terrorist group to me but it is a hot dry and dusty port in Southern Spain. We got off the train at a station so new it looks like they’ve just closed the doors of the old and opened the doors of the new in the last few days. Some of it still in bubble wrap. It’s taken four hours to get here by train, a very comfortable ride from Granada. Met a kiwi couple at the train station when we got off who were doing the reverse. They had just come from the ferry/shuttle from Morocco and boy did their big bags look heavy.

Both from Auckland she had all the hallmarks of a teacher as she ‘told’ us everything we needed to know. When she went off to get coffee he told us she had preferred they drive everywhere but he hadn’t enjoyed it at all and had suggested a train for this next leg. He fervently hoped it would be a good trip because if it wasn’t she wouldn’t be happy. Jaysus! He commented on our small bags and when she came back she told us she had narrowed her baggage down quite a bit but it wasn’t a big deal. He however said they weighed a tonne and she had bought plates and God knows what else so it was pretty funny hearing both sides with him confiding every time she dashed to toilet or shop or for coffee!

A shuttle bus took us to Tarifa at the bottom of Spain. Being Saturday we walked through the busy market place and sat with coffee and tapas before heading to the port. Managed to find a shop that sold alcohol on the way. Lots of people told us it’s almost impossible to get any kind of alcohol in Morocco and to take something with us. A couple of bottles of wine and rum was the advice to be exact. I didn’t want the weight and am not fond of rum, so ended up with a 700ml of vodka. Virtually tasteless I figure it’s easier to mix with lemonade or orange juice and good if you need a shot to settle tummies. Also if there’s any problem having alcohol I could fill my water bottle. Sweet!

Ha and Bo warned us about being careful what we eat as Bo got really bad vomiting and diarrhoea and it wasn’t until he had a shot of rum that it stated to settle. Mum preferred brandy as a medicinal drop in the cupboard and would mix equal quantities of port wine and brandy which was foul to drink but it did work! I’m keen on nuts and dried fruit and may just be vegetarian for a few days. Where we just bought Tapas they had meat slices laid out in an open air shelf and you picked what you wanted and they deep fried it for you. I nearly bought chicken that was crumbed and sitting out on a plate. I thought it was perhaps eggplant until an English speaking Swiss guy who was at the bar asked if I needed any help. Told him I was vegetarian and so he pointed out the meat ones for me. That was close I thought!

We’ve kept so well for this whole trip it would be a shame to get sick now but realistically if we were to get a tummy upset, this is where we would get it. I picked a veg paella, cold chilli beetroot, battered sardine things and a potato dish and it was all delicious before we crossed on a fast ferry to Tangiers. So here’s our last view of Spain as the ferry pulled away…

While the general thing seems to be don’t even bother stopping in Tangiers cause it’s nothing more than a bustling port I also read about a hotel there called Hotel Continental. As an added bonus it is a short five minute walk from the ferry. Though it is now a three star hotel this is apparently where the rich and famous used to stay. While it is now faded and tired it carries the remnants of its grandeur and at a much cheaper price. As today has been a long day I thought it might be an interesting stop before we carry on to Fes which is a two hour further trip. Hoping it wasn’t just marketing hype we managed to escape the guys wanting to help, guide, be our friend, take us to dinner and dancing, and find it. The light is fading fast but I had to get this one in because I got excited when I saw it.

That’s it up on the hill. It used to look over a beautiful shoreline but now it’s the container port. It’s in the old part of town and the stalls and smells were amazing as we made our way there. As soon as we walked in I knew it wasn’t just marketing hype. It was old, very chic and I couldn’t wait to explore, but at reception the guy told us we couldn’t stay there as there had been a major plumbing problem and everyone was moved to a hotel on the other side of town. They had a car ready to take us and we were whisked away to a very flash five star. I never thought I would regret a free upgrade but I was a bit sad as we stood in the lobby with a couple of American guys who also said they has especially booked there for the experience. They said they felt they’d flown to Morocco and ended up in San Fran and as soon as they were settled in their room they were taking a taxi straight back to explore.

We found our room and it reeked of stale smoke so I phoned reception and asked for a non smoking room. “All our rooms are the same she said. You may smoke in there if you wish.”
“I don’t wish to smoke I explained I don’t Iike the smell…” Someone was sent straight up and we were shown to one that didn’t stink. See it’s worth the call. This is the nicest hotel we’ve stayed in on all our trip so far and once in the room we decided we would relax here and enjoy because we had two weeks of Morocco to come. No point in rushing out here. Up to pool we went for a swim and a luxury shower before going down to the restaurant for dinner. Bread rolls so fresh and soft with a bowl of really lovely olives and oil came complimentary. I chose the lamb tangine and it was soft and succulent, just dripping off the bone delicious. Gilbert got steak and vegetables and it wasn’t as tender as he would have liked. The interesting thing was no alcohol at all. I thought it would be here for tourists but not so much as a sniff of wine. Coffee after dinner was average too. Tasted like NescafĂ© instant.

But, Five star breakfast awaits us in the morning all at the price of our budget hotel. Wahooo! I’ve slipped into my beautiful cotton sheets and am ready for a wonderful sleep tonight. I’m a Princess really. I was just pretending I like to rough it….

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