Bye bye Spain - Hello Morocco!
24.07.2016 - 24.07.2016 31 °C
Hotel - The El Minzah Tangier - Room 120
Went down for breakfast in Madrid at 7.30 am only to discover a whole new Scenic group that we think came off the Douro River cruise. They seem quite a pleasant, happy and friendly bunch, as opposed to the group we have been with for the last two weeks! Enough said! Had a quick breakfast and said goodbye to Eddie and Coral and Cvetta and Grant. They are about the only ones left from our group now.
Our driver was waiting in the foyer for us at 8.30 am in a lovely black mercedes and we whizzed off to the airport in about 15 minutes. Not much traffic around on a Sunday morning.
Madrid Airport is only about seven years old and it is huge. No photos allowed but the exterior is quite unique.
Then the "procedure" began.
We found the Iberian Airways desk and checked in. Easy. Our bags were 22 and 23 kgs and we thought perhaps we might have to pay for them being overweight, but not so. Good. The boarding pass is very "busy" with lots of writing and numbers and we were told to head for the section called RSB. We went through security, customs and then took the escalator down to a train station. We hopped on and were informed it was a one stop train. It was quite fast but seem to take a very long time to get to where we were going. We then followed the signs to Section S and we waited and waited for about an hour until a gate number was promulgated next to our flight.
So we walked to Gate 42 as our flight was boarding in about 30 minutes and I noticed that we didn't have a seat number on our boarding pass. When the girl came to the counter, I checked with her and she allocated us a seat. There were only three left. Phil was in 10D and I was in 15C. We didn't care. At least we had seats on the flight. Boarding commenced and we walked down the finger, then down some steps, then onto the tarmac, then boarded a bus, and off we went again. Finally, we boarded our flight but had to wait on board until the next bus load of passengers arrived. It took us longer to get from the check in desk to boarding the plane than it did to fly to Tangier!
The flight took about 1 hour 15 mins and food and drink were offered during the flight but payment was required, even for water. I was sitting on the aisle and when we were coming into land, all I could see was water so I was hoping that the pilot at least could see land! He did and we landed safely.
Tangier has a small airport and as we were the only plane landing at the time, it was very easy to walk through the airport, find our bags, go through immigration and customs and a final bag check and we were in the main hall, trying to locate our guide for the next 10 days. There was no one in sight, until a security guard pointed outside the airport to a fence, where people were lined up, waiting to meet the passengers from our flight. They are not allowed inside the airport. I suppose it's a security thing but quite funny.
We made contact with Abdou and walked to the car. It is blowing an absolute gale. Some of the small trees are almost hitting the ground. It's warm but pleasantly so. The drive to the hotel took quite a while but we chatted happily with Abdou and got to know him.
Our hotel is lovely. Our room wasn't ready which was a bit of a pain, so we had to sit in a restaurant by the pool, and have a beer while we waited. It was the dearest beer we have had for a while, about $7AUD. We tried to order a snack but there was a buffet lunch in the dining room and we didn't want that but we just couldn't get them to show us a snack menu. They are frightfully busy as a Saudi King's daughter is getting married in Tangier and the town is full. There were three Saudi Jumbos at the airport when we landed. They had brought the guests for the wedding. I think we waited about an hour and Phil went back to reception to see what was going on. The conceirge finally took us to our room and the girls were still cleaning it but we didn't mind. We have a lovely view over the harbour and we have the windows open and a gale is blowing but it's nice.
We went for a walk and found a nice place where the beer was three times cheaper than the hotel and ordered a salad and a meat and bean tapas arrived as well.
Took a few photos and came back to the hotel for a siesta.
We certainly know we are in a Muslim country. I just heard the loudest, most agonizing, out of tune call to prayer, ever. Better get used to it.
Phil lost his voice a couple of days ago, and is starting to get it back, but still has a bit of a cold.
We have half board at all our accommodation over the next 10 days which means breakfast and dinner is included. We wandered down into our lovely courtyard for dinner this evening at 9.15 pm and were the first there. It is still a bit early for the locals. We left at 10.15 pm and they were just starting to wander in then.
We both had a lovely vegetable soup and then Phil had steak and I had chicken and couscous with almonds and raisins. It was just lovely. The flavours were so different. Sometimes it even tasted like eating perfume! But it was so huge, I really didn't do it justice. From now on, I think I'll order from the entree menu and then I'll have a better chance of finishing it.
Took some photos of the pool at night time and now settling down for a relaxing night's sleep. I imagine we'll be woken by the call to prayer at some ungodly hour in the morning! Having trouble down loading photos into my blog, but I will try to keep up with the dialogue and publish when I can.