RTW Trip Tangier, Morocco Day 27: Meandering the medinas with Jim Jarmusch

I instantly fell in love with Tangier.  I don’t know if it was because it was my first time in a medina, or if it was because I had just seen Jim Jarmusch‘s modern vampire film Only Lovers Left Alive, but either way, Tangier was exciting and filled with interesting characters.

kids on roof
We first acquainted ourselves with the city by just getting lost in the walled city. This was the start of the billion ‘konnichiwa’ greetings I would get, and the billion offers Greg would get for drugs.  Many Moroccans would often tell you which direction to go, even though you never asked them, or was going in a completely different direction.  If you do ask for directions, they will also ask for some money which I thought was strange, so we usually just ended up finding our way on our own.  Sometimes, you would get people being truthful, tell you that the street was “closed,” which basically meant that you were approaching a dead end.

woman in medina
There were countless stalls filled with leather goods, tea sets, spices,  clothes resembling Obiwonkenobi outfits, with a large smattering of cafés serving fresh mint teas.  Tangier was a great introduction to Morocco, because it was low key in comparison to Marrakech and Fes, and the touts were not crazy aggressive.

man smoking

There is a huge history of big bands like the Rolling Stones hanging out here, as Tangier was wildly popular and well marked on the hippie trail.  You still see quite a few local foreigners in this city.  Having just rewatched Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown Morocco episode, Bourdain was invited to a meal with a bunch of local foreigners living in Tangier.  On the first day, we saw two of them (one being the writer Jonathan Dawson, and the other was artist Francisco de Corcuera), in addition to the antique store owner Bourdain visited in the episode!

Tangiersites collage
After a lovely breakfast on the roof of our Dar, and meandering the endless streets of the medina, we finally made a pit stop to a stadium seated, seafront view cafe called Cafe Hafa. While most people were having mint tea, we were pretty hungry, so we ordered the only food item we saw.  An excellent hot lentil soup called Bessara soup with bread and olives.  It hit the spot!

dar rif breakfast collage

Kamal serving us breakfast at Dar Rif Kebdani Hotel


Cafe Hafa collage

Seaside view from Cafe Hafa

Since there isn’t a lot of drinking in the mainly Muslim country, we did a lot of mint tea sipping.  It isn’t so bad though, because Tangier is great for people watching!

sheep collage
Dar Rif Hotel $38
Bessara soup and mint tea at Cafe Hafa 34 dirham
Mint tea and water 20 dirham
Meat sandwich, fries, and cokes 39 dirham

Total cost: $38 + 93 dirham = $48.42 / 2 = $24.21 per person

What I learned: Don’t think everyone is a tout.  We met a lovely man named Richard who used to live off of Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn a few decades ago.  He was absolutely enamored with Greg. I felt invisible. Haha.

richard and greg

Richard hearts Greg.


Actual date of travel: Sept. 30, 2014