Monday, 15 June 2015

Take me to Tangier

"Served as playground for excentric millionaires, a meeting place for all kinds of spies and crooks..." This is how Tangier was described in our guide book so of course we were eager to check it out! Last weekend we finally managed to get away. You can take the night train from Marrakech to Tangier but we preferred to go by car and asked our usual driver to take us. It is a 6 hour drive on good roads, so we left Marrakech early in the morning and arrived in time for lunch.

Tangier on the Mediterranean coast

This mythical harbor city on the Mediterranean coast, and home for a milion, has been featured in many films and books over the years and attracted writers like Paul Bowles and Tennessee Williams as well as the rock'n roll crowd. 

Beautiful view over Tangier from the highest hill outside town

The history of Tangier
Tangier has a rich histrory and was founded as early as 1400 BC and has since then been ruled by the Carthagians, the Greeks, the Romans, the Vandals, the Arabs, the Portugese, the Spaniards, the English and the Moroccans.
Between 1923 and 1956 Tangier was a so called "international zone" under the joint administration of France, Britain, Italy and Spain. (During some years even Sweden had represantation in the administration) This fact made it a very popular spot for all kinds of people including hustlers, smugglers and criminals.
And during the cold war Tangier was a "safe house" for international spying activities. The reputation of Tangier was therefore accordingly! A lot has changed since those days of course but the city still has a decadent and alluring atmosphere and is off the beaten tracks for most tourists.

On a clear day you can see spain, just some 20 km away.

We really liked Tangier! The climate is very nice, around 20/25c all year round and a light breeze from the sea. It has a very international vibe and some excellent restaurants. The city center consists of the old medina and the the kasbah (fortress) of Tangier and beautiful villas on the surounding hills.
The harbor of Tangier

The architecture of Tangier
The old medina is quite rough and not very safe at night, they say. It lacks the great shopping and beautiful handcraft we are used to from Marrakech but we found quite a alot of antique stores. We spent a few hours in the medina and then concentrated on the rest of the city. The architecture is very diverse and you find some very nice traditional Moroccan designs as well a lot of great art deco buildings in Tangier. The city reminded us of both Cuba, Spain and Greece so it really is a mealting pot of different expressions and heritage.

A typical street in Tangier

The medina is very nice and quirky but a bit rough and to be avoided at night

A beautiful little park, the pachas garden, in the kasbah of Tangier
Lush and green gardens
Some mosaics. And Per.

Kasbah of Tangier
A green door...
A blue door...
And a traditional wooden door!

Beautiful Moroccan architecture
Museum of Tangier is well worth a visit!
White houses and blue skies, a bit like Greece
One of many art deco buildings
Once one the largest theaters in Africa, today a cool ruin
Some streets with multi colored houses felt like Cuba, or maybe the Caribbean?
A lot of beautiful buildings

As art deco fans we had a great time exploring the architecture and villas of Tangier
We checked in and stayed at legendary and iconic luxury hotel El Minzah. The hotel is like stepping into a film set from the 1950:s. It is very majestic and has the best ocean views in town. We loved this place for the genuine feeling and the great views from the large terrace of our room. The building is a true landmark and it felt very much like Chateau Marmont in LA (for those of you who know what we mean).

El Minzah - a true Tangier classic
A room with a view - we loved our terrace!
Lounging with a book by the pool of El Minzah
Another beautiful day

Where to eat and what to do in Tangier
Tangier has many very nice restaurants and the city has - in our opinion - more sophisticated options for dining compared to for instance Fes or Rabat. We loved O Saveur with excellent French food and an ambitious and interesting menue. Another very good and modern restaurant is La Fabrique, also French and very casual. San Remo is solid Italian where we had lunch. The restaurant of our Hotel El Minzah is more traditional but offers a very good "business lunch" on the terrace overlooking the pool and the park of the hotel. That was all we had time to test so we will have to come back.

O Saveur - our favorite for both lunch and dinner

The interior of O Saveur

La Fabrique had fantastic warm oysters 

La Fabrique, modern and casual French food

A day in Tangier: 
Take a walk in the old medina, make sure to visit the museum of the kasbah, stroll up on the surounding hills and check out the beautiful art deco buildings, sip cofffee in the historical cafes, check ut the vital art scene and galleries and have a glass of wine on a terrace with a view over the ocean and Gibraltar, why not on iconic El Minzah? Shop modern Moroccan design at Las Chicas, have dinner in the garden of O Saveur.
Las Chicas, a cool fashion and interior store in Tangier
Las Chicas reminded us a lot of the Majorelle 33, a shop in Marrakech

Traditional slippers, "babouche", with a twist!
Gallerie Delacroix - beautiful gallery with modern art. In the center of Tangier, next to out hotel.

We were very happy about the original photo art by French artist Roberto Pasquali that we got in a nice little gallery in Tangier


Enjoy Cafe Hafa that hangs on a cliff and was the favorite place for Beatles when they were in Tangier, we guess they came here not just for the mint tea...

Have coffee at legendary Cafe de Paris, where Paul Bowles and Tennessee Williams came to write

Au revoir Tangier - we will be back!

We sure loved to feel the ocean breeze and hang out in this cool harbor city. Soon ramadan and the summer heat will be upon us once again.
Can't come to Tangier but want to experience the feeling of the city? The sheltering sky is the film based on the Paul Bowles novel with the same name. See the movie and/or read the book!

Time to get into our car and head back home to Marrakech!

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Studying & going back to Scandinavia

Magical Marrakech has been our base and home for almost 5 months now but there have also been some trips outside Morocco, mostly related to Per's board work. We really enjoy spending as much time as possible in Morocco. It is however important for us to leave the country at least every 3 months due to our visas. So the last few days we have been back in our old hoods, Scandinavia, while Disco is keeping an eye on things with Rachida in the Riad.

Right now Scandinavia is green, lush and beautiful! The days are long and nights are short with only a week away from Midsummer. This picture is from Helsinki yesterday.

Before we left we had some busy weeks with our studies and several university exams online (which we passed with great grades, YAY!). Believe it or not, but we are actually studying quite hard here, both online with Swedish universities as well as having a private teacher here in Marrakech to improve language skills etc.

We have had two big French exams in the last weeks - both passed with honors!

So we celebrated our success with a pool party with lots of fun people.

Then it was time to leave the streets of the medina and head back to Scandinavia

Disco stayed in the Riad with Rachida and kept an eye on things

Patrick's niece Julia graduated from high school. End June she will visit us in Marrakech

We met up with our dear friends Kristina & Niklas to celebrate the Swedish National Day (June 6) in their beautiful home outside Göteborg.

Beautiful Annelie on her roof terrace in Stockholm (picture from our last visit)

Per had several strategy days with the boards he is on. Above is the amazing board of Lindex, where he is the cahirman. There was also board and strategy meetings with Stockmann in Finland

Some airport shopping on the way back home, to Marrakech. Hermes is hard to find in Morocco

And now we are heading back to our home, Marrakech. 

It is amazing how quickly Marrakech has become our home in a natural way. We sure feel strange when we leave to go back to the hectic business life of Scandinavia and we are suprised (like foreigners) how clean, minimalistic and structured Scandinavia is. Where are the noice, the traffic chaos, the colours, the dust, the calls to prayer? We may have changed more than we realised in these past 5 months.

And now, after some fun days with family, friends, colder climate and board work it is high time to head back home, back to our beloved Marrakech. Back to Disco who is lazying about in the riad and back to Rachida who is preparing one of her amazing tangines.

Longing to get back home!

But in a few days we are off again, this time to mythical Tangier up North, stay tuned for a report!

Bon Voyage and be safe, wherever you are!