Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Moroccan mint tea’

Day Tripping in Tangier, Morocco

January 16th, 2014 6 comments

Tangier Medina View Kasbah

One of the highlights of my summer trip to Spain wasn’t in Spain at all, but rather during a day trip to Morocco. I had been to Morocco before, and I knew a ferry-ride-day-trip was not the ideal way to experience this colorful and exciting country. However, this is how many tourists get their glimpse of Morocco, and I wanted to experience it for myself.

Just a Ferry Ride Away

Jason Bourne did it. Hoards of tourist do it. Friends have done it. Finally it was my turn to take the ferry from Spain to Morocco.

Surprising to me, the ferry was not very different from taking a Washington State Ferry. The smell and feel of the boat were the same. Even the snacks were the same—submarine sandwich, potato chips and a muffin. It was a short ride, just an hour or so, and we were there. Tangier, Morocco ~ ferry

Tangier

Strategically located on the narrow strait the separates Africa from Europe, Tangier is considered the gateway to Africa, as well as Morocco’s face to the world. Throughout history, Tangier has been controlled by an almost endless string of kingdoms and empires. In past decades, Tangier has been a gathering spot for beatniks, artists and writers, as well as a destination for the international jet set.

Tangier Map

Like most who visit Tangier by ferry, we did so with a group of tourists. We had a terrific guide, Mr. Hassan, a professor of history. He explained all about the Ville Nouvelle, the New City, and its glamorous heyday in the early 20th century. We got an overview of the city, the poorer areas, the wide boulevards, as well as the French Quarter and the Spanish neighborhood.

Tangier, Morocco ~

Even more exciting to me was the Medina, the walled old city. As soon as we approached the entrance, I got a chill up my spine and a skip in my step. How I love old Arab walled cities! And my husband and three children perked up as well, turning eager and absorbed in the sights around them.  

Tangier Medina Entrance

Inside the medina, we walked down winding alleys, past intricate doors, bakeries, vegetable souks and enticing trinkets. I loved it all! I even got a kick out of the relentless street hustlers who would not leave us alone the entire day, as we couldn’t help but chat with them. 

Tangier, Morocco ~ slippers

Tangier, Morocco ~ bowl hand of fatima

Tangier, Morocco ~ Bread

Tangier, Morocco ~ Vegetable Souk

Exploring the Medina

We were only in the Medina for an afternoon, but there was much to explore. For example, I stumbled upon this Café Baba, which I found out later was founded in 1943 and was a hippy hangout in the 1970s.

Tangier, Morocco ~ Cafe Baba

Here is the street where Jason Bourne, played by Matt Damon, jumped from rooftop to rooftop in the film The Bourne Ultimatum.

Tangier, Morocco ~ In the footsteps of jason bourne

Finally, we had a terrific meal at Restaurant Hamadi. We ate harira soup, kebabs, and couscous. The setting was sumptuous and we were entertained by live musicians.

Tangier, Morocco ~ Restaurant Hamadi

The Kasbah

Within the Medina is the Kasbah, the medieval part of the city. Located behind stout walls, the Kasbah is on the highest point of the city with a scenic overlook toward the Strait of Gibraltar.

Tangier, Morocco ~ kasbah wall

Famous People Connected to Tangier

Here a just a few:

Ibn Battuta

Tangier,  Ibn Battuta

Born in 1304 in the bustling port city of Tangier, Ibn Battuta was the greatest traveler of the medieval ages. He traversed most of the known world at that time, spending 30 years crisscrossing the Muslim World. He carefully documented his journeys, which can be read in Travels of Ibn Battutah, written by Ibn Battuta himself (edited by Tim Mackintosh).  

Here in Dubai, Ibn Battuta is especially famous, as we have a shopping mall named after him, the Ibn Battuta Mall. The six courts of the mall are named after the various places he traveled: China, Persia, Andalucía, Egypt, India, and Tunisia.

You can read more about Ibn Battuta’s travels in Travels with a Tangerine by Tim Mackintosh. 

Henri Matisse

The Casbah Gate, Henri Matisse

Of the many artists who passed through Tangier, Henri Matisse is perhaps the most famous. This French impressionist called Tangier a ‘painter’s paradise.” He completed dozens of canvases and sketches during his time in Tangier.

According to our tour guide, Henri Matisse was particularly inspired by this green door to a mosque, which served as a subject for his work.  Tangier, Morocco ~ Henri Matisse Door

Paul Bowles

Paul Bowles, The Sheltering SkyAn American author, Paul Bowles is one of the best known foreign writers who lived in and wrote about Tangier. He is most known for his book The Sheltering Sky, written in 1949 and later made into a film. His other works include Let It Come Down (1952), a thriller set in Tangier, as well as The Spider’s House set in 1950s Fèz. Paul Bowles died in Tangier at the age of 88.

A Terrific Tangier Day

I can understand how Tangier has inspired so many. Meanwhile, our day in the city was a memorable one. We visited a lot of touristy sites on our tour, and I would have preferred more time wandering the Medina. Still, it was a terrific day, and there was something exciting for everyone, including my youngest son.

Tangier, Morocco ~ Camel Ride

As for me, the day wasn’t complete without Moroccan mint tea.

Tangier, Morocco ~ mint tea

Our family spent a leisurely time partaking in Tangier’s café culture. Here are the two of us, my Palestinian husband and I enjoying the moment.

Cafe Culture in Tangier, Morocco

I found Tangier to be worn-out but friendly, rough around the edges, but full of secrets, both quaint and cosmopolitan. Not typically Moroccan, nor European, nor even African, Tangier is a cultural mix of all three. These were just my first impressions. I look forward to visiting Tangier again, and exploring more.

Tangier Vintage Travel Poster

Question: What is your favorite city in Morocco?

Guide to the Global Village ~ Jordan Pavilion, plus Iran, Lebanon & Morocco!

January 17th, 2012 7 comments

I have made many trips to Jordan, so I always enjoy this pavilion. For me this year, the biggest hit of the Jordan Pavilion was the entertainment.

If you’re new to the Global Village, it’s a huge fair-like shopping and cultural event that runs during the winter months and is located just outside Dubai. To know more, see my post Dubai’s Global Village ~ Where the World Comes Together.

As for shopping at the Jordan pavilion, one of the first things you see is the cross-stitch thobs. These are the traditional Palestinian variety.

Also, the Jordan Pavilion has lots of Arabic foodstuff, namely, olive oil, pickles, cheeses, zataar, etc.

I bought some olives here.

I discovered something delicious in this pavilion: “figs in honey,” a thick, chunky kind of jam. It was one of those samples that you casually accept, and then stop in your tracks and ask, “What is this?” I bought 500 g which we gobbled up in our house, eating off the spoon.

This year, my favorite part of the Jordan Pavilion was the debke dancing. There’s an entertainment schedule on the Global Village website. However, I’m never that organized. Instead I stumble upon these shows by luck, as was the case in the Jordan Pavilion. This troupe was good, very enthusiastic and the highlight of that GV visit.

Other Global Village Highlights

There are 28 pavilions at the Global Village, too many for me to list here. Instead, I’ll mention a few more that I have enjoyed this winter.

The Iran Pavilion

This pavilion has seen better days in past years. However, it’s still worth a visit–if only for the quiet Iranian restaurant inside. It’s a good place to buy a carpet. Plus, I have found Iranian tablecloths, tiles and pottery here in the past. I have also bought my share of jewelry here over the years.

The one thing I buy regularly at this pavilion is Iranian saffron. If I remember correctly, a tiny bottle is 80 dirhams ($22) and a very tiny bottle is 40 dirhams ($11). Of course, there are whole tins for the serious foodies. Below is the shop that sells saffron.

I caught some Iranian music (again, it was luck).

The Lebanon Pavilion

The Lebanon pavilion features the foodstuff of the Levant: olive oil, cheeses, Arabic sweets, etc. One thing I enjoyed was the fresh bread near the entrance. These women refused to let me pay for the gigantic round bread they gave me, hot off the grill.

The Lebanon pavilion also has serving items for the home, like trays and platters. There are purses, jewelry and other accessories. However, I was happy to find something I couldn’t find at other pavilions: olive oil soap.

The Morocco Pavilion

I love this pavilion. It deserves a post of its own. Many of the stalls here are actually from home décor boutiques in Dubai. Not a bargain, but lovely to stroll through to admire the gorgeous Moroccan lamps, furniture, tiled tables, fountains, pottery, etc. (I can dream, can’t I?)

There are smaller items such as pottery and these mirrors, still a splurge though.

In past years, I have bought pointy leather slippers in this pavilion, as well as small cans of harissa, decorative jewelry boxes, and hand of Fatima accessories. But I usually head straight for the Moroccan tea paraphernalia. This is the place to buy silver Moroccan tea pots and trays, as well as colorful tea glasses.

This year, I bought Moroccan green tea and mint at this shop, where you can also pick up a clay tagine and everything else needed to make and serve Moroccan mint tea.

For details on specific pavilions, check out my posts: The Yemen Pavilion, The Iraq Pavilion, The Turkey Pavilion, The Africa Pavilion, The Palestine Pavilion, and The Egypt Pavilion.

Question: What do you like to buy at the Global Village?