In the old town is the Medina; a wonderful medieval walled Ali Baba cave of trinkets, incense, mint tea, fresh fish and more trinkets; a shoppers dream where you can lose yourself within minutes but always find your way back to the main arteries – just be wary of men trying to sweet talk you down less busy alleys because it is doubtful the shop they ask you to visit exists, more likely it will be your wallet or girlfriend that is bought, for free, at knife-point. However, do not let that warning deter you, crime is not high and keeping your wits about you will mean you receive no trouble whatsoever. Having an Arabic translator on hand to swat away these flies is always handy though. Loyalty is a strong trait.
Architecture lovers can marvel at the Grand Mosque flanking the Grand Socco – the main town square sitting in front of the Medina. Those of you who require something a little eerier can hope to catch the nightwatchman on duty at a derelict art deco movie theatre, who, for a reasonable price, will show you round the building, full of precarious rotted floorboards and complete with dust strewn rows of seats left deserted when bankruptcy took the owners away. I’ll leave it up to you to find the place, a keen adventurer will not find it difficult to locate.
So we come to the point where you as a reader asks, “but I need a drink, and a full belly.” Fear not, for mint tea is available in every direction, alcohol is not a problem in this most European of Arabic states and bars are numerous, varied and cheap (except nightclubs will charge extortionate prices for their fare) and food – well just follow your nose and your instinct. And if you want to take a taste of Maroc home with you there are more spice merchants than can be imagined.
After you’ve gorged on Kofta or Tagine and washed the plumpifying goodness down with a fine wine or lager – choose from local brews or internationally recognised brands (you’ll pay more for the brands and they aren’t as good) then you, as I, must want to sit down and be entertained. There are many clubs in Tangier; traditional places where live bands perform to languorous belly dancers that wouldn’t be out of place a thousand years ago, modern nightclubs full of the same thumping beats you might find in Leicester Square, and smaller places where prostitutes mill around batting eyelids at every man let loose through the doors.
Literally, whatever it is you are looking for in Tangier you will find it, and whatever it is you want to avoid you can avoid. Prostitution is not shoved in the faces of families; there is a delicacy and respect towards life that maybe has replaced the hard sell attitude of old disreputable Maroc but always be aware the Moroccans, they are looking for a way to rip you off although to be fair to them they are always looking for ways to rip each other off and I feel this is part of their charm – it is almost pure Social Darwinism in action so if you want to test your wits against a world where wits are what are lived by then Tangier is the place to go. The law of Omerta stands strong here; a welcome distraction to the compensation culture of the west – where self-inflicted accidents can bring lawsuits against innocent unfortunate antagonists which contributes to the dumbing down and nannification of the state.