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!
P&P