Right now I'm sitting in a hotel room in Valencia, Spain -- which is a long way from Fez, Morocco, where I last posted. In the past two days we covered an enormous amount of terrain -- going from Fez to Granada yesterday, and then from Granada to Valencia today. The trip covered (parts of) two continents, required three forms of transportation (train, car and boat) and took approximately 24 hours of actual travel time. Most of it went exactly as planned; some of it went exactly the opposite of what we'd planned. A fitting way to celebrate Pioneer Day, I think. Here's a quick breakdown of the different stages.
|Our compartment -- sans Sleeping Beauty|
|Entertainment during train delays|
Tuesday, 7/24, 12h40-13h40 -- Tangier to Tangier Med. This was the tricky part of the trip. We needed to get to Algeciras, Spain, before the car rental shop closed at 6:30pm, but we did not know ahead of time how that was going to work. We had a general idea of two options: (1) Take a quick ferry from Tangier to Tarifa, then find a way (cab?) to get ourselves from Tarifa to Algeciras; or (2) get ourselves from Tangier to a commercial port called Tangier Med and take a slower ferry directly to Algeciras. Each trip had its advantages and disadvantages, as well as its own set of unknowns and risks, but on paper both of them worked. We decided to go with Option 2 -- and, well, it turned out okay. As soon as we got off the train in Tangier we found a cabbie who looked like a pirate and was willing to drive us to Tangier Med, which turned out to be about an hour away. Fortunately, our cabbie needed no prompting to get us there quickly -- he had quite the lead foot on that coastal road.
|The middle arrow is the path we took|
|These Arabic words are emblazoned everywhere in Morocco. |
They signify "God, Country and King".
|The Rock of Gibraltar|
|Giant container ship|
Tuesday, 7/24, 18h30 - Wednesday, 7/25, 01h00 -- Algeciras to Granada. As our ferry slowly docked in the Algeciras port, we were beside ourselves with anxiety about our car rental. In order for the rest of this trip to work, we needed to get to Granada that night -- and in order to do that, we needed to have a car. And the rental place closed at 7pm. Here we were, just barely docking at 6:30; we still needed to get off the boat, go through passport control and customs and figure out how to get to the rental office. So I called the office to let them know we were coming and could they please wait for us. The guy's response: "You have no reservation." What!?!! We had reserved this car over a month ago and had received several confirmation emails, including one only a couple of days ago!! Nope, nothing in the system. "And in any case, I don't have any cars." Click. Well, there went all of our best laid plans down the drain -- we were in a seedy port town without a car or hotel, and it was already after 7pm. [Despairing sigh] We ran to a WiFi hotspot in the ferry terminal and started doing some frantic homework -- Amanda was running through Algeciras hotel listings (it's a seedy port town, not known for its accommodations) and I started calling every rental office I could find in the city. No luck. Then I spotted some cars with rental company logos on the sides parked outside, so I went out to see if I could find the drivers and have them direct me to the office. Turns out something better happened: Once I was in the parking lot, I saw a shop front around the corner -- it was a rental company, and it was OPEN! From then on, everything was right with the world. The rental process couldn't have been easier; the clerk was super helpful and friendly. Within half an hour we were rolling out of Algeciras in a little gray Citroen. An hour later we were starving (we hadn't eaten anything of substance since breakfast at 6am), so we pulled over at a random resort town hoping to find something decent. The first thing we saw was a Hard Rock Cafe. Not exactly our typical fare, but we were too hungry and tired to care -- we devoured giant hamburgers with French fries and ketchup, and they were delicious! Then it was back into the car for another 3.5 hours to Granada. We arrived around 1am at our little hotel (a converted 15th century mansion) and went right to bed. We were exhausted but happy to have arrived safely!
|Our rental car|
|La Casa del Capitel Nazari|