Tangier, in the northern point of Africa is different. Its Arabesque, its African, is Spanish, its French, its European and its unlike anything else… Even from other parts of Morocco. With all of this culture clashing (and I do mean clashing) it can be intimidating for any traveler. However, Tangier’s food alone is worth the visit!
The Atmosphere of Tangier
Tangier is filled with pedestrians. The cars on the street act like they don’t see pedestrians but are actually really respectful. Shop owners shout at you to buy things from their store. Its loud. To top it off children do the grown-ups dirty work. They stand next to you at the ATM and ask for money. They come up to you and try to sell used items. The call to prayer is distinct and the scent of different spices and food is in the air. Tangier is an assault of the senses in a way I have not experienced before.
A few years ago I went to Marrakech, and although it was just as chaotic, I found it was less chaotic than Tangier. Marrakech is beautiful with some similarities. However, their medina is flat and big. Their souks (markets) are indoor. Tangier’s medina is on a hill, completely outdoor with lots of tiny streets that resemble hallways. It’s built like a maze, guaranteed to get you lost.
The main difference from Marrakech and Tangier are the residents. Since Tangier is close to Spain, and Portugal and other areas of Europe, they’re used to seeing people of different ethnicities. Even though Marrakech is also a tourist destination the locals thought I was Moroccan which means they pretty much left me alone. Everyone left me alone. I was never asked to haggle. I never felt like I was going to get scammed. In fact, I bought several souvenirs for my parents and siblings and the store owners would run at Anglo tourists before glancing at me. I thought it was great.
Tangier was the complete opposite. I was constantly approached by pedestrians, children, store owners who hassled me to buy things. It felt oppressive. I was followed by museum door men, asking me to view their museum, trying to haggle with me on the price. Owners would ask me if I was latino, or Spanish…
Tangier is great but you need to brace yourself for culture shock.
The Culture of Tangier
The interesting thing about Tangier is the cross culture. It has a French, Spanish, and Arabian hybrid culture.
You’ll find beautiful Patisseries around the Medina. French chefs with an Arabian twist. The deserts are beautiful and delicious and constantly full of people.
The language is also an interesting hybrid. I read about it before going there but hearing is believing. If you speak any of the romance languages you will understand a few words.
Tangier, as well as all of Morocco’s main religion is Muslim which means you’ll see women in burkas and men wearing appropriate head-to-toe garments.
The food is Moroccan, Arabian with Spanish and French influence. You have to try it all. From the amazing croissants to the tajine dishes.
The history of Tangier is eclectic and wild. However, you can see how this all came to be if you research a little bit.
Let me break it down for you:
Go to Tangier but be ready for chaos and a giant culture shock.
People will try to get you to buy their things… constantly.
Kids will approach you for money and try to sell you things
You will be followed by store owners.
I should mention that adults and kids constantly freaked out by my camera. I wanted to take a picture of a building and they all thought I was taking pictures of them and shouted “NO PICTURES” while covering their face. Just something to be aware of.
It’s not dangerous, you just need to hold your ground and be firm. Firm not rude.
Amazing sights. Great food. Fun and creepy urban legends! Ill write about this on my next post.
Tangier is a great experience. It’s very exotic. I recommend it.
Wanna know what do to in Tangier? Check out my other blog posts: