Tuesday, June 27, 2017
We had experienced another time change following our flight from Lisbon to Tangier and we gained back one of the 5 hours we had lost during our flight to Portugal so that we are now 4 hours earlier than Niagara. I slept soundly due to the lack of sleep from the previous two days, however, I was still a little tired when I got up to join Pete & Kathy for breakfast at 8 am.
We had a wonderful view of the bay and the Straits of Gibraltar from the dining area.
After breakfast we contacted our driver, Achmed, to take us for a tour of Tangier and the surrounding area. We stopped at a location near the waterfront with a wonderful view of the Strait of Gibraltar and I took a picture of Achmed, our guide, with Pete and Kathy. We could barely see the outline of Portugal and Spain as well as Gibraltar through the haze ( on the right side of the picture ), however the camera didn’t pick up the detail.
We then drove into town and the Tangier Kasbah. A Kasbah is a fortress with high walls usually without windows. The alleyways between the buildings are quite narrow, as can be seen in the following picture:
We also saw a riad, which is a traditional Moroccan house or palace with an interior garden or courtyard.
The buildings were interesting and Achmed imparted a lot of historical information regarding the area.
When we left the Kasbah, we drove along the coast past the palaces of the Moroccan king and the Saudi king before arriving at the Caves of Hercules. It is believed that the Phonecians created the sea opening of the Caves of Hercules in the shape of the map of Africa when looked at from the sea.
The cave itself is part natural and part man-made. The man made part was used by Berber people to cut stone wheels from the walls, to make millstones, thus expanding the cave considerably.
When we left the cave area at 2:30 pm, Achmed took us to a very nice place called the ‘ Ocean Restaurant ‘, where we had a very nice fish dinner.
After our meal, we headed back to the hotel and at 8:30 pm we went for a walk around the area. In the evenings the streets are full of people and the street markets are very busy.
Sunday/Monday – June 25/26, 2017
It was dry and warm when we left Niagara for the Toronto airport at 6 pm on Sunday evening. Surprisingly, the traffic was relatively good and we reached the ‘ Skypark ‘ lot earlier than expected and we were at the airport with lots of time to check in, go through the security check and have supper before our 11:55 pm flight to Lisbon.
With the assistance of a 180 km tailwind we arrived in Lisbon almost an hour early and we circled twice before landing at 11:22 am ( 6:22 am EST ) Monday morning.
There was a very long line at the Portuguese customs and it took us 30 minutes before we got to the customs agent but it only took a few minutes after that to clear customs. We tried to get our boarding passes for the next leg of our flight but there was a problem with my ticket, so we had to exit the customs area and go to the TAP airline service desk. There were only about 15 people ahead of us but it took more than an hour to talk to one of the four agents. However, it only took a few minutes to get everything corrected and print out our boarding passes.
Even with the delays, we still had plenty of time for our 10:20 pm flight to Tangier, so we decided to get a SIM card for my phone, clear security, have supper at one of the many restaurants in the gate area and then relax a bit before our flight. We found a vodaphone kiosk and I had them install a local SIM card in my phone for 10 Euros, which gives access to 7 GB of data and 500 minutes of local talk time in Portugal and Spain. Clearing security was very easy and we opted for a simple supper of burgers and fries.
I took a picture of Pete and Kathy in the airport. You can figure out who’s who.
It was still a long wait until our flight departed and there was a half hour delay before we finally left. We arrived in Tangier shortly before 11 pm and our driver was waiting for us as we exited the airport. It was a 15 minute ride to the El Minzah hotel and by the time we checked in, it was almost midnight in Tangier ( 8 pm EST ), 26 hours from the time we had left Niagara. Even though we were tired, it took us a while to fall asleep.
The El Minzah was built in the 1930’s and it is a 5-star hotel in Northern Africa that is a favorite of many influential people. This is a view from Pete & Kathy’s room at midnight.
Several years ago, my friend Kathy Roethler and her husband Peter, introduced me to ” The Camino Trail ” ( also known by many other names including ” The Way of St. James – see the link at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camino_de_Santiago for more details ). Many people hike the trails every year and there was even a movie made about one of the trails in 2010 by Emilio Estevez, called ” The Way “.
Kathy has wanted to hike one of the trails for several years and we have finally put together a plan to accomplish this.
There are many trails that lead to Santiago to Compostela and myself, Kathy and her husband Pete, have chosen to hike the same section of the trail that our friends Erv, Esther & Sigrid hiked from Porto, Portugal to Santiago, Spain. The 143 mile ( 230 km ) trail we have chosen, will meander northward along the Atlantic coast before heading inland when we reach the Spanish border. However, we will be making a side trip to Tangiers, Morocco for a few days before we start our 2 week hike.
Our flights leave on June 25th at 23:55 from Toronto Airport to Lisbon.
After a short stopover, we will continue to Tangiers, Morocco where we will arrive shortly before midnight on Monday evening.
We will be staying in Tangiers for 3 nights and we plan to take a few excursions around Morocco, before flying to Porto, Portugal after a brief stopover in Lisbon.
We will be spending the night in Porto before starting our 2 week hike to Santiago.
We hope to reach Santiago in 14 day and spend 1 or 2 nights there before taking the train back to Lisbon.
Our return flight to Canada will be leaving Lisbon on July 17th and we should arrive back home shortly before midnight.