¨In Morocco, it's possible to see the Atlantic and the Mediterranean at the same time.¨ Tahar Ben Jelloun.
The stories of French romantic artists Eugène Delacroix and painter Henri Matisse have long captivated our understanding of their fascinations for the northern-most city of Morocco, Tangier. Heavily inclined artists, writers, poets and mass philosophers have all fallen victim to it's wave of linguist ambience; William S. Burroughts, Jean Genet, Paul and Jane Bowles, Allen Ginsberg to name a few. After a tour of the city, we have come to fathom the discern travellers' curiosities, and better understand the inspired artists that flock here every year. The cosmopolitan city of Tangier has long been a melting pot of cultures due to the two dozen centuries of Phoenician, Carthaginian, Roman, Vandal, Byzantine, Arab, Portuguese, Spanish and British occupations. To this day you can find expats living the jet setter life, with their sophisticated stylish homes and entrepreneurs with successful international businesses.
Our private tour guide Aziz Saint Laurent, hosted us on two separate tours: Tangier sight-seeing & Cultural Tour and Assilah Tour: Day trip from Tangier. Aziz was in his natural element as Tangier is his home, and he engaged a lot with us welcoming questions as we mutually questioned him. The tours consists of 60% what every tourist should see on your first visit, whilst the other 40% is Aziz showing you the nooks and crannies of the city through the eyes of a local. With this clever perspective, we saw some of the gardens of locals and celebrity homes, we have captured the essence of Matisse's later work inspired by the streets of the Kasbah, and he has taken us through the insanely beautiful Parc Perdicaris, which is an oasis of calm in the turmoil of Tangier.
The walk through both the petit and grand Socco was beautiful. We were especially fascinated by what we consider to be the most impressive fish market! Giant sized tuna, cuttlefish, octopus and all walks of sea and ocean life were scattered along the stalls as the sellers happily served their customers. It was the red carpet version of all fish markets, and we would love to experience the city all over again just to buy some of these fresh fish! Foodies will be happy to try some of the most varied selections of olives and fruits on display in Tangier´s markets. After a whiff of food galore, we drove off to the pine-covered headland to Cap Spartel, where the lighthouse is. This is only 14km from the city and lies on the northwestern extremity of Africa's Atlantic Coast. We then drove past the summer palace of the King of Morocco, ending our Tangier city tour in the Caves of Hercules. Theory has it that the famous 'Map of Africa' was carved in the cave by the Phoenicians. There are natural parts to the cave as well as man-made, such is the case of the Berber people who cut stone wheels from the walls, to make millstones to expand the cave. Wall carvings and markings can be spotted in these ancient walls, definitely one of the highlights of the tour.
On our Assilah tour, the weather was pleasant (22º degrees weather in late December), as we calmly strolled through the Medina. This beautiful and tranquil town on the Atlantic coast is only an hour drive from Tangier and the scenery is beautiful along the way, with sandy beaches and farms. The gorgeous whitewashed town feels a bit like a Greek island, with the iron windows on the all-white buildings and secluded beaches. The sprouting art scene is reflective of the town, bohemian and full of colours! We had lunch at the famous Spanish restaurant Casa Garcia, which served us the freshest shrimps and swordfish steaks. This side of Morocco is unique to the rest of the country, and it was a brilliant tour to learn about a different side to the country.
Aziz is very well travelled, and has even lived in California for a few years. After finishing college in Fez, he dedicated his full profession organising private tours in Tangier and other cities in Morocco. Some of the celebrities that used Aziz' services were Mick Jagger, rock band U2, Richard Harris and Baz Luhman the film director. If you are going to Tangier directly from Spain, he will happily book your ferry tickets for you and meet you at the port upon arrival.
Aziz offers various tours all over Morocco, but his specialty is Tangier, his hometown. He will cater and adjust to your needs, whether you are a group, individual, family member or a big company of friends. His individual approach has long been recognised throughout his 30+ years as a tour guide. If you have an idea, or want to do something specifically on the tour, you can discuss your itinerary beforehand and Aziz will find the most suitable variant for you. He also speaks english, spanish, french and arabic. As the top reference in Tangier, Aziz has given us a number of restaurants and hotels for the next time we visit Tangier. Thanks to his captivating hospitality, we have gained a genuine friend in Morocco.
Tangier is a great destination for boutique travellers. Take time to get a feel for the languages of the area. Learn a few phrases, use a dictionary and buy a local newspaper. You probably want to rush to the key sights, but don't let that anticipation eclipse the pleasure of the journey. Check out the local markets, museums and shops. Engage in the café culture and observe the individuals around you. Do what the locals do, and keep an open mind to try new things in Tangier.
Aziz Saint Laurent Private Tours | Boutique travel private tour guide with over 30+ years of experience in the tourism sector | Contact Aziz for a quote on the tour you would like to do |19 rue Khawarizimi Etg Apt 5, Tangier 90000, Morocco | Bookings at firstname.lastname@example.org | Aziz' Cell: +212 661-957 402 Phone: +212 668-907 539 | www.azizsaintlaurent.com