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Onboard the FRS ferry bound for Tarifa, I stayed out on the deck for a little while, soaking up the last of this exotic African getaway, not that there is much to soak up in Tangier, a port town.
Like Casablanca, Tangier was our jump-off point and if we had time to spare, we’d most likely find worthwhile sights to explore.
However, we didn’t.
We spent 10 hours travelling from Marrakech to Tangiers, with a 2-hour stop to change trains in Casablanca. We arrived in Tangier way after the sun has set, too tired to even bother to find a place to eat.
We settled for a steak dinner at the Ibis, where we stayed the night. The first ferry to Tarifa the next day was at 7 in the morning.
Now out on the deck, I bid goodbye to Morocco. A stupendous experience had of getting lost in ancient medinas with its bustling souks and spice markets, shopping and bargaining with the vendors; of people watching in panoramic terrace cafes sipping sweet Moroccan tea; of sweating and scrubbing in a hammam; of staying in a riad and getting to know one of the friendliest people on earth. Many scrumptious meals were devoured in fancy establishments to hole in the walls. Just across the Mediterranean Sea from Southern Spain yet a world apart from its neighbor, it is unequivocally exotic and oftentimes overwhelming with its incredible colors, smells and sounds.
A pleasant 45 minutes ferry ride transported us into a different world.
Tarifa is a small town in Cadiz, Andalusia just across the Straits of Gibraltar facing Morocco.
Though this bohemian town in the southernmost coast of Spain shares similarities with Morocco—its culture, its landscape, even the spectacular view of the Rif Mountains across the water—religion separates them.
Our journey continues in Algeciras, where we traveled by train to one of the most scenic villages of Spain.
Marrakech to Tangier
Travelling by train in Morocco is an ideal way to get around. Albeit not an extensive network, most major hubs and cities are connected. There is an overnight train for this route and is best taken if one is pressed for time and on a budget. However, there is so much to see and the day train is an excellent one for sightseeing. OCNF operates the railway system. It is a 10-11 hour ride.
Note that there will be a brief stop in Casablanca to change trains for the day train. The night train, however, travels straight through to Tangier.
First class tickets are comfortable and pre-assigned. The cabins are air-conditioned. Night trains have bunks / couchettes (but not the day trains) and it is best to get tickets early as these cabins are limited. However, you cannot buy or reserve a ticket outside of Morocco so do consider arriving a day or two ahead to buy your tickets.
Tangier to Spain
The shortest route is between the ports of Tangier and Tarifa. FRS has modern high-speed ferries sailing between the ports several times daily. Crossing takes roughly 45 minutes. Alternatively, FRS also connects Algeciras with Tangier MED, the new port situated about 40 kilometers (1 hour each way) from the city. Either way, FRS provides a free shuttle to transport its passengers to either ports. In our case, we arrived in Tarifa from Tangier Ville (the city) and took the free shuttle to Algeciras where the Renfe train station is.
There are several ferry services that connect Europe with Africa and online is the best way to book. You collect your ticket at the port of crossing by showing an ID or passport. Use services such as aFerry, Direct Ferries, Ferries-Booking.com to book.