We left our hotel before dawn and took a tour bus for the hour and a half ride down the Spanish coast to the port of Algeciras on the Strait of Gibraltar. We boarded a ferry boat to take us across the nine mile strait which separates Europe from Africa. On the other side we landed at Ceuta, a Spanish enclave on the Moroccan coast. There we were met by another tour bus to take us to the city of Tetuan. Along the way we stopped for a staged photo opportunity for each of us to ride a camel.
We arrived in Tetuan, which is one of the royal cities of Morocco. Facing the main plaza is the palace of the king when he is in residence.
We then entered the "medina", the old town, which has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The "medina" is a warren of narrow streets lined with whitewashed houses and shops. We stayed closed to our tour guide because it would have been very easy to get lost in the labyrinth.
We had lunch at a restaurant in Tetuan, a place with traditional Moroccan décor, music and cuisine. It was obviously a stop targeted for tourist groups, but the food was quite good. (By the way, the fellow in the background wearing shorts was not one of our students. We had told our group... both males and females... to dress conservatively with a minimum of exposed skin.)
If our tour had ended there, we would have probably been satisfied with our glimpse of Morocco. But instead we drove an hour to the west to the city of Tangier.
I don't think any of us were impressed with Tangier. We visited the "souk" (marketplace) and went to a carpet shop, where the carpets seemed to be covered with a decade's worth of dust. The street vendors selling tourist junk were very aggressive. Unlike Mexican vendors, who usually take a polite "no, gracias" for an answer, they were persistent to the point of being annoying. Now I'm not going to judge the whole country by Tangier. I know that there are cities such as Marrakech and Fez that are supposed to be fascinating, filled with history and architecture. I will just write Tangier off as Morocco's version of Tijuana.
After way too much time in Tangier, we headed back to Ceuta (an hour and a half journey) to take the ferry boat back.
Along the way, we had a view of the Strait of Gibraltar, with Europe barely visible on the other side of the water.
By the time we took the ferry back to Spain, and then made the long bus ride back to our hotel, it was 11:00 at night. We were all exhausted and glad that our trip to Morocco was over.