Well, I’ve finally gotten around to telling y’all about my last stop on my 2-week trip to Spain in May! If you haven’t already read them, you can click these links to read my previous posts: Introduction, Valencia, Dénia, Madrid and Sevilla.
The last leg of my trip was in Tarifa, the southern most point of Spain, and all of Europe for that matter. This is not to be confused with Tenerife… almost everyone thought I was in the Canary Islands when I told them I was going to Tarifa. Similar names, belonging to the same country, but different locations! My Au Pair family had rented an apartment there and had been in Tarifa the whole time I had been traveling around, so I met up with them for the last few days of the trip.
It was super relaxing. I was finally out of hostels and had my own room in the apartment. I was eating healthier/home-cooked foods and didn’t go out at night at all. Tarifa is a pretty remote location, definitely not a huge tourist spot. It’s beautiful and hilly, with big open beaches and not many people, but there’s also not THAT much more to do besides beach it. Being in the Strait of Gibraltar, where the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean meet, the beaches are also very windy. For this reason, Tarifa is a huge windsurfing and kite surfing destination.
I spent most of my time on the beach with the boys, switching off between playing with them and relaxing in the sun reading. On our second to last day, Biggi, my host mom, and I decided to do a day trip to Morocco. It’s only 15 kilometers, or a quick 45- minute ferry ride, to get from the port in Tarifa, Spain to the port in Tangier, Morocco. So we figured, why not stretch this trip over two continents? Harry, my host dad, stayed back for another beach day with the boys so Biggi and I could have a girls day.
Although I’m not typically a fan of guided tours, we figured this was the safest/easiest route for a day trip, so we joined in on a “cultural tour of Morocco”. We were shuttled around by charter bus to quickly drive past the Sultan’s palace, the Prince of Morocco’s summer home and a 10-minute stop in a cave. We then pulled over on the side of the road where there was a beautiful view of the Atlantic, and the best part of my day- camels! For 2 Euros you could sit on a camel and ride it around in a circle for 5 minutes. When you first sit on a camel, they start by having all 4 legs on the ground, tucked under them, so you can easily climb on. Luckily Biggi warned me to hold on tight, because they stand first with their back two legs, causing you to fly forward if you’re not holding on! My camel was particularly stubborn and it seemed like it took him about 5 minutes to get his other two legs up standing so I was finally not holding on for dear life anymore. Once he (or she? I felt like he was a he, though) was standing, it was awesome. Best 2 Euros I’ve ever spent. I don’t know many people who have ridden a camel in Africa!
The charter bus tour left us in the old town, where the walking tour started and we saw lots of mosques and were harassed by every person and child selling something on the street. It reminded me of Cancun, Mexico. They were all very friendly though and not threatening in any scary way, just annoying. Our group ate lunch in a typical Moroccan restaurant where we were fed pork skewers, soup, and a chicken with cabbage and cous cous dish, while being serenaded by a traditional Moroccan band. It was all very delicious, and definitely a cool part of the experience. Our last hour we had free time to do some bargain shopping in the market before heading back to the ferry.
Having never been in a country like Morocco before, I could definitely sense how different it was than being in Europe, or somewhere else foreign. For one thing, it was crazy seeing the Arabic written all over signs- I’d never been to a country where I can’t even read their alphabet before! The women all wore the headscarves, called a hijab and dressed very modestly. Children starting around age 7 were running around with donkeys or other animals trying to earn money by charging to have your picture taken with their animals, or they were selling packets of sketchy looking chewing gum. It was definitely another world, but a cool experience. And hey- now I can say I’ve been to Africa!
The next day we began our 30-hour road trip home from the very south of Spain, through the rest of the country, through all of France, all of Switzerland, a piece of Austria, and finally back home to Aschau. Without going into much detail, I’ll just say that it was miserable and I thought we would never make it back. But we did, and overall it was worth it to be able to spend 2 weeks in Spain! It’s been rainy and cold again in Aschau this past week and I am longing for the Spanish sun and beaches once again. What a trip!
Tarifa and Tangier photo dump: