Well I’m sitting here in Tokyo and one of my friends in Spain asked whether she should use Solchasers to do a trip from Spain to Tangier, Morocco. Thus that prompted me to write a review as to why she should definitely reconsider. This is based solely on my experience with Solchasers tour company and my time in Tangier.
The trip was very reasonably priced and included a ferry ticket, a hotel and a day of sightseeing. They were very accommodating and available in regards to their customer service. We were able to get to Morocco with and no problems until we stepped off the boat. We were greeted by two men who insisted we take a taxi with them as they were are tour guides. Lucky for me I have common sense and knew a man was supposed to be waiting with a sign of my name ensuring he was the correct tour guide. We quickly found him and hopped into a comfortable van after a little bit of arguing. We never got stickers from the company so although he had a sign with my name on it (as well as the other members in my group), he wasn’t convinced it was me.
We began our tour of Tangier. This consisted of our tour guide pointing out hotels, the beach and some new construction for about 30 minutes. We also stopped to ride some old camels for $2. We had lunch at a nice restaurant that was included in the price. Afterwards was when things went straight downhill. We visited two souvenir shops, a rug shop, a spice shop and a food shop. It was extremely obvious that our tour guide got a large commission on each shop we visited. We had to sit down, listen to the shop put on a show of its items and were of course quoted outrageous prices. Everyone was irritated by this point. She was even so kind as to offer us an opportunity to come back with her family for a fee. It was very rushed, disorganized and not as advertised.
We stayed at Hotel Almohades in Tangier. The hotel was very nice, clean and modern. Dinner was included and it was pretty much the same as lunch. We went out that night to get henna, eat ice cream and go to a club for a few minutes. The club started playing 90’s rnb and hiphop upon our arrival which was interesting.
The next day we took a trip to the medina since we were unable to do much shopping the day before due to the rush. As a women, I cannot recommend other women travel to Tangier without a man of some sort. It was stressful and slightly dangerous. We were offered a tour and once we turned it down, were called Black whores, slaves and a few other derogatory terms. He then followed us around and we had to run to ditch him. All the priced we were offered were 50% less than when we were with our tour guide. The carpets they were selling for $60-200 were somehow magically $15-50 when we were without her.
The tour ended with us being picked up on time and brought to the dock to catch our ferry. Overall there isn’t much going on in Tangier and I’d recommend visiting other parts as it’s basically a tourist trap for the hoards of day trippers from Europe.
It all started when I decided to hop on a bus from Malaga to Paris. A 36 hour bus ride to be exact. In that time I met Frenchmen who has their crusty feet in the seat with no socks or shoes. I met an Cameroonian man who took it upon himself to sit with my so no other man would. He also talked the entire professing his love and desire to go to New York. I ate one too many bocadillas and became sick. I arrived at the train station and there were no taxis. I got stuck in the doors of the metro train and I couldn’t read menus with my minuscule French skills but I ordered good things.
Today I said my somber goodbyes to my host mom. It’s been an interesting 4 weeks with her. She is the mother of 4 children, all adults now, and she hosts students throughout the year. She is an amazing cook and lunches were always filling. Dinner ranged from croquettes to egg and potato omelets and was small as Spanish dinners usually are.
We had a few miscommunications along the way. She’d often tell us to go to bed around 11 or 12pm which was next to impossible with the long ciestas we took after lunch. This is probably in part because utilities are very expensive in Spain. A couple of times we hid food that we didn’t like (croquettes!). It was hard to tell her we didn’t like something since its considered disrespectful and of course there’s the fact that she already cooked it.
All in all I’d recommend staying with a host family if you plan on traveling for a while. They were the key to me being able to practice Spanish. I can’t wait to return to sunny Malaga sometime in the next 2 years. Paella, a delicious Spanish dish) is already calling my name.
So I decided to wear my Afro out today and boy were the Spanish people amazed. I’m walking to Casa Aronda, the best chocolate churro place in the world, and I start to notice the stares. Not those kind of stares where they glance over at you but full on stop the car, spin around twice, honking, retrace their steps stares.One old man stared for about 20 minutes and asked where was my face. I peaked out and said “here I am” all in Spanish of course. All I can say is I hope they’re getting used to it because us Black girls are global!
We travelled to Córdoba today. It was very packed due to the fact that it is the first day of the fair! Unfortunately we only stayed a 8 hours. I was able to see the synagogue, the mosque (Córdoba was the capital during the Muslim reign in Spain) and the beautiful patios. I definitely recommend a visit to this beautiful city.
So today I will talk about a few of my low points in Malaga, Spain. Now generally I don’t complain but I believe people love to talk about the positives and not the negatives in regards to study abroad. My list is of course based on my own personal experience in Malaga this far and doesn’t mean that I’m not having fun. After all, I did come here to improve my Spanish.
I don’t prefer the Spanish way of dining. For breakfast we get bread and marmalade, a gigantic lunch and maybe puréed soup or croquettes for dinner. I love the big lunches but those two pieces of toast followed by 3 hours of class don’t cut it. I have however, been surviving on chocolate and churros from Casa Aronda. Delicious!
The night life here is definitely not for me. Rock and pop are a big part of this culture and there isn’t too much diversity (music) on the club scene thus far. I love to dance to many different types of music but those two I simply cannot move to. I do love the laid back bar scene and free chupitos (shots).
The amount of tourist and people that speak English is pretty large. Generally, people tend to speak to me in Spanish but if I appear to even slightly struggle they switch to English. Plus I meet English tourist daily throughout the city. Luckily for me my host mom speaks only Spanish so I can practice with her in between commercials and during lunch.
The staring can definitely get old. Not a lot of Black people here so I understand their curiosity. It’s still awkward and uncomfortable. Not only do the Spanish people stare but the random Asian tour groups do too! My only recent travel was to the Dominican Republic and people looked like me so no problems. I suppose this is preparing for me a year abroad in Japan where I will be an ink spot on a piece of paper 😉.
That’s about it. I’m sure my experience will be different in each city I visit as I have yet to see all Spain has to offer! Madrid, Barcelona and Granada are all on the list. I leave you with a few pics
from my trip so far.