We arrive to the port of Tarifa with the very early lights of the morning to see the sunrise over the straight of Gibraltar and take the first morning ferry to Tangier. The ferry crossing is some 45 minutes, so soon we start to see the skyline of Tangier drafted in the horizon. First glance the city appears to be bigger and more modern than we have anticipated. The immigration and customs processes are very efficient and in less than 20 minutes after arrival at the port, all the paperwork has been cleared up and we are driving through the busy streets of Tangier, trying to find the entrance to the Atlantic highway that will take us to Asilah, a small city about 50 Km south of Tangier, where we want to make our first stop and stay for the night.
The highway is in immaculate condition and the traffic is very scarce. The countryside projected on the sides is greener than we thought, with abundant crops of cabbage, carrots, oranges and so on. We make it to Asilah before lunch time. It is a nice coastal town, with a modern part which seems to be developing fast and the old medina, which is a maze of narrow streets and white houses with some touches of blue and some handicrafts shops here and there.
The market expands in the outer side of the eastern wall of the medina. Vegetables, fish, live chickens, bread, spices, pastries, telephone cards, clothes, everything is available and gives us our first shopping experience in Morocco.
The morning after we continue the journey along the coast and arrive to Rabat, which is a pleasant surprise. Relatively small and very laid back. After parking Polaris next to the sea, we head towards the Kasbah, which is the oldest part of the city. We access it through one of the magnificent gates on the wall, leaving behind the elegant and wide avenues from the modern part and entering a maze of pretty and steep narrow lanes.
We have a peek at the sea from the top of the kasbah and on our way down stop for a nice mint tea with some pastries at the Cafe Moure, just before having a stroll at the peaceful Andalusian gardens. From there we head into the busy souk, with a huge range of goods on offer.
At a point in time we realise that the lunch time is sort of long gone, but decide to head to the modern part of town anyway, hoping to get a tagine in what is supposed to be one of the best tagine restaurants in the city. Success.
The ocean road continues towards Oualidia. Along the way we pass through lots of tiny villages, where the shepherds take care of their flocks and hard working people transport grass, wood or vegetables with their donkeys. The landscape is very nice, with green slopes rolling into the sea.
What mainly makes the little coastal town of Oualida worth a visit is the golden sandy beach around the ocean lagoon, separated from the big body of water by some rocks, that give the lagoon water the gift of tranquility, where the fishermen park their boats and offer their catches.
More to the South we find Eassaouira, which is pretty and intense, full of different colours, lights, sounds and smells. It´s hard to decide where to start, since there are so many aspects to it.
Probably the most intense place is the fishermen harbour in the early afternoon, when the fish market is in full swing and the whole place is immerse in a perfect chaos of people, fish, seagulls and a very powerful smell.
It has nothing to do with the tranquility on top of the city walls, where you can stroll to contemplate the sunset or the roughness of the ocean crashing against the rocks around it.
Probably the most colourful part is the souk inside the medina. A nice and intricate labyrinth of mostly narrow alleys, full of shops and restaurants, where carpets, shoes, tagines, sweets, fruits, spices, miraculous argan oil, clothes, original handicrafts, lightbulbs, ceramics and so much more mix together in a delicious kind of salad. The people are kind, the pastries are sweet, the food is tasty and cosy.