“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”
“I don’t much care where –”
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”
― Lewis Carroll
So you’ll see on my about section that I have mostly traveled around Europe. With the exception of Canada and Mexico, most of my country count is European. My only real goals for travel have been to see as much as I can, especially to see that which I haven’t yet seen.
Of course, getting to another continent was definitely a must. So when the opportunity came to go to Morocco, even for a day, I was glad to take it.
We thought about staying longer, but the reality was our trip was short and it would have been more expensive and more complicated to take the car over to Africa, so our family decided to just take the ferry over for a quick day adventure, and then go back to Spain for the evening.
My father initially talked about doing things on our own, but after talking with hotel staff, he found out it was almost a better deal to go with a tour group, and would maybe make it easier to see some of the things we wanted to see. So with that in mind, we booked a trip with a tour group to go get a taste of Tangier, Morocco.
I have done a few trips with tour groups. My orchestra in high school did a European tour playing in three different countries. And when I studied abroad I did three different excursions with our program to different parts of France and Switzerland. It’s certainly a different experience and there are (as with all things) both positives and negatives. So to give you an idea here’s a little blurb on traveling with a group vs. going solo.
The benefits of tour groups:
Everything is arranged. No stress trying to figure out transport, or meals, or dealing with a foreign language. It’s all done for you.
You get to meet new people! Now if you’re going with your high school orchestra, or with your church, or with your study abroad program, that’s less of a plus. However, for something like this it’s a fun way to connect with others.
You get information you might not know otherwise. It’s nice to have someone point out what something interesting looking is when you go by it. It’s also nice to have someone who can answer questions if you have them. Definitely helps!
The problems with a tour group:
You have to move at someone else’s pace. This can be frustrating if you’d like more time certain places or more likely, if you want to see as much as you can.
You can’t do what you want. See an amazing looking restaurant? Too bad you already have plans to eat somewhere else. Notice a cool stop on the road, can’t pull the bus over and get out to look.
Other people can be annoying. Hey, while meeting people is great, keep in mind you might meet some special snowflakes. My favorite on this tour was the vegan couple who made a fuss at the restaurant we ate at, which was definitely a bit annoying. And with a tour, you’re stuck with those snowflakes for the rest of the day (or week or however long the tour is).
So there’s some quick thoughts for those debating which route to go while traveling. I’d say in some places a tour group can be worth it, while in others it might be nicer to explore on your own. But it depends what you’re comfortable with as a traveler, if you’re alone, if you’re someone who needs to take it slower, or any number of other factors. Do your research and find what is right for you.
We met up with our group at the back of the ferry before being shuttled off and onto a tour bus. We all settled in and our guide began our driving tour.
Our first half took us around some of Tangier and then out into the country around as well. We drove to a lighthouse by the sea and took some pictures there. It was so beautiful. Sunny blue skies and clear water.
Next, we drove to a spot where we could try riding camels. I was terrified by the thought, but I knew if I didn’t try I’d likely regret it. So, reluctantly, I climbed on with my mother and tried to hold on for dear life as the beast rose to its feet. It felt so precarious perched atop its hump, clinging to the saddle. The guide led us a short distance so we could see what it was like and then pulled us back over to where we’d come from. The camel went down again, nearly tipping us off. I was relieved to be back on my own two feet, but it was an experience I will never forget.
We drove on to the Hercules Caves, an interesting section of sea caves that has an opening towards the ocean that looks almost like a face. It was very interesting inside, and it was admittedly something we wouldn’t have been able to visit on our own without our rental car.
Next we drove back towards Tangier. We stopped at a site that was an old Phoenician burial site. Apparently normally they see the palace or something on the tour, but it was closed on the day we went. So something else it was.
After that we began the walking portion of the tour. We headed towards our lunch destination, stopping along the way to see other things. By the time we reached the restaurant we were very hungry.
The place had a traditional feel with rugs and pretty decorations. There was a band performing, though they mixed Christmas music into their normal repertoire.
The first course was a soup with a tomato broth and noodles in it. The second was a kebab with mystery meat (but who cared because it tasted good). Then was a plate with chicken and couscous and finally baklava for dessert, but not before having a mint tea that Morocco is so famous for drinking. The baklava was heavenly, and I thoroughly enjoyed the tea as well.
After filling up on our delicious lunch we headed back towards the market area. We wandered through it, seeing the various interesting shops. We stopped in a textile one where myself, my mother, and my brother all bought scarves (though my brother’s was for his girlfriend). And then we continued on and saw a spice shop where were shown all kinds of herbal remedies. It was very interesting.
Then we had some free time. We thought about trying to go wander to something more interesting, but unfortunately we didn’t have much time. So we stuck in the market area mostly, though we did get a little lost at some points.
After a fun day of adventure we at last headed back to catch our ferry home. It was dark and late, and we were all pretty exhausted. Once we were back in Spain we went to grab food. We settled for pizza since we were all pretty worn out. After that it was to bed for us, hoping for more exciting adventures in the morning.
The main thing I’ll say is you can find fun and adventure anywhere you go, however you choose to do it. Keep exploring.