La Table du Marche’-Tanja Marina Bay

The restaurant La Table du Marche’ is a fabulous new restaurant located on Tanja Marina Bay. It is pricier than most places in Tangier, but the food, service, location, and atmosphere make it worth it. They have one menu whether lunch or dinner that serves something for everyone.

The restaurant opened in May with the opening of the Tanja Marina Bay facility.

The cuisine is international but there is a section for Moroccan cuisine as well. They serve fresh fish, grilled meats, pasta, and risotto. Our selections today were a tomato and mozzarella salad. It had fresh and sundried tomatoes with a pesto sauce. It was delicious.

I ordered a pasta dish with mushrooms and smoked turkey pancetta. It was a generous, rich, sultry dish that reminded me of autumn.
My husband ordered the fish of the day, which turned out to be grilled swordfish with tomato chutney and a side of mixed vegetables. We shared a bottle of white wine from Morocco, which was excellent.

This restaurant is also affiliated with the less pricey one next door, La Boutique. It makes the fresh bread that they serve in La Table with roasted garlic butter and a black olive tapenade. It is incredible.

The restaurant is located at the end of the end of the pier, which gives a nice view of the municipal beach and the Gulf of Tangier. There is one located in Marrakesh and in St. Tropez.

The décor inside is very modern with all glass windows to take in the incredible views. We went for lunch but I can’t wait to go some evening after dark to take in the beautiful Tangier skyline with all the lights flickering on the sea.

A Tourist at Home

When was the last time you were a tourist in your own city? Since I moved to Tangier, I’ve been a tourist here a lot. When you move to a new place, it’s always exciting to see what all it has to offer. However, after you have lived in a place a while, things might become stagnant or you might just be busy with work, family, household chores, etc.

Whenever I visit a city, I often use the hop on, hop off buses that many companies offer to tour the city. The prices are usually relatively reasonable and you can see many things and get a lot of information in a relatively short amount of time. Then you can choose places, sites, monuments, or museums that you want to revisit.

We noticed that there is a new bus in Tangier, City Tours. It is the hop on hop off style and has two routes. One is two hours and one is one hour. They offer they tour in an audio guide in four languages: Arabic, French, Spanish, and English. It costs about $16 for both legs of the tour and the ticket is good for 48 hours.

Because we are residents, they offered us a 50% discount, so for $8, we were able to take the tour. We have been to all of the places on these tours, but there was some interesting information and it was fun to see the city and the sites from a different perspective.

I grew up in Nashville, TN and my parents still live there. Whenever I go back to visit, I go on some type of tour like Nashville Trash, Backstage at the Grand Ole Opry, or visit one of the sites such as Andrew Jackson’s home, The Hermitage.

So my advice to you is to consider being a tourist in your own city. See your city as the tourists do. You might learn something new or develop a new appreciation for where you live.

Discovering Wine in Morocco

Wine in Morocco? That might surprise you given that it is 98% Muslim. They do not use wine in their religious practices. Wine has always been an important dimension in my life. That only increased while living in Italy. We’ve enjoyed and been very pleasantly surprised by the availability and quality of this luscious beverage in Morocco.

Most restaurants do not sell alcohol. You will find the more expensive, or foreign cuisine restaurants do have it. It is also available in hotel bars and sold in stores around town.

Wine has been in Morocco since the Phoenician settlers. By the time the ancient Romans were in Morocco, it was well established. The French occupation and expertise gave a boost to the industry. When Morocco gained independence, it began to die out. The high Atlas Mountains and the cooling influence of the Atlantic make is a desirable climate for the vineyards.

In the 1990’s foreign investors and know-how entered the market. At the time there was a program by the state where they rented acres of land for vineyards. Several large Bordeaux based companies entered the Moroccan market. Today, Morocco is the second largest wine producer of the Arab countries behind Algeria.

Red wine accounts for 75% of the production and rose’ and gris about 20%. There is only about 5% produced here that is white. The traditional red grapes planted in Morocco are Carignan, Alicante, Grenache, and Cinsaut. Those makeup about 40% of the crop. Plantations of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah have increased rapidly, and together makeup around 15 percent.

Morocco has five distinct wine regions. Within these five regions, there are fourteen with Appellations de Garantie (AOG) status. We drink mostly wines that are made in Meknes and Fez. We’ve had some really nice ones that go great with the Moroccan cuisine. We look forward to visiting some of the vineyards and continuing our education.

Sushi Box and Other Ethnic Restaurants

There are quite a number of ethnic restaurants in Tangier, although many of them are not very good. It is interesting to eat Chinese, Japanese, Thai, and Indian food in countries outside of their origin. I’ve eaten them in the United States and in Italy, but not in the original origin, so who’s to say whether they are authentic or not. I only know if I like them or if they are similar to what I have eaten in other places.

I’ve read that it is common for ethnic restaurants to adapt their food and menus to the locals. I’ve seen this happen in Italy when I ordered what should have been a spicy Chinese dish only to find it not so spicy at all. (Italians do not eat very spicy food). I also saw menus for McDonald’s (please excuse this example) change to fit Italian taste with pancetta instead of bacon and here in Morocco where they do not have bacon on the menu at all.

When you are vacationing, it is rarely important to check out ethnic restaurants because you are eager to eat food from the place that you are visiting. When you live in a place, it’s different. Sometimes you just want a taste of home or a different taste entirely.
I sorely miss Mexican food and have not found it here in Tangier. They have Chinese, Japanese, Thai, French, Spanish, Indian, and Lebanese. Still, there is a good selection. One of the best places that I’ve found so far is Sushi Box.

Sushi Box is located on rue Ibn Alhaytem Tangier, Morocco. This is a chain, so they also have locations in Casablanca and Rabat. They use the freshest fish and have a very extended menu. There are tiny jars of pickled ginger on the table along with wasabi, so you can eat all that you want.

The prices are in line with other sushi places I have eaten, although that is on the expensive side for Morocco. I think it’s worth it though. The only thing lacking is the sake, which I sorely missed. You can check out their menu at the Casablanca website by clicking here.

They also do home delivery. Yay!

Teaching English

Me, teaching English?  Okay!  In 2011, I received my TEFL certification from a school in Florence, Italy.  It was my first year living abroad, and although retired, I thought I could make some extra money teaching English.  The course was a grueling month long, but in the end, I passed with flying colors.

I taught English in Italy for about six months.  I had six private students.  Two were 5 years old, two were ten years old, and two were 20 years old.  The pay was not great and the prep work for teaching was much more than I had bargained for.  After six months, I had decided to live without the extra income.

I haven’t taught since then, and I haven’t really thought much about it.  Until recently, when a woman contacted me.  She had found my name and profile on Facebook on an expat forum.  She inquired about whether I was interested or not, and after some consideration, I decided to pursue the opportunity.

This all started in May.  There was an interview; there were forms to complete and an English proficiency test to complete.  Now I am ready to face a weeklong training session on the Berlitz method of teaching.  This prospect has me terrified and filled with dread.

It’s not the training I fear; it’s the 9:30 to 5:30 schedule for five days straight.  Yes, spoiled as I am, I no longer wake up by an alarm clock with someplace to be early in the morning.  My days are free to do as I please and full of traveling, marketing, trying out new recipes, sightseeing, lunch with friends, volunteer work, walks on the beach, trips to the pool, watching movies and reading.  Hardly anything is scheduled and definitely not at 9:30 in the morning!

Okay, I know you don’t feel sorry for me, nor should you.  I still am not doing this for the money, but for the sole purpose of meeting like-minded people in my new country.  I had one meeting with five other teachers and felt that I could easily accomplish this goal.  They were all women and were from France, Spain, Australia, New Zealand and Germany!

So, this is what will inspire me to get up at this uncivilized hour and go to this course to learn how they prefer I teach English.  Wonderful, like-minded women who are far away from home for a variety of reasons and motives all together in one room for the purpose of teaching their language to others.

When that alarm clock goes off, I will definitely need to think hard about this wonderful motivation.  I think I’m actually getting excited now.  Wish me luck!

The Asilah Mural and Art Festival 2018

Since 1978, the medina walls of Asilah turn into an art gallery with colorful murals painted on the walls during July and August. It was the idea of two artist friends who wanted to transform the decaying and deteriorating alleyways. Now it has turned into a month-long arts festival.

The Centre de Hassan II Recontres is where lectures are held for artists, writers, and musicians during the festival. Throughout the medina, you will find artists working or evidence of their finished products. There are street musicians as well playing throughout and wanting to get you involved with playing an instrument or dancing.

The usually peaceful medina is alive with activity. There are always many stores here with unusual gift items of handmade shoes, jewelry, candles, baskets, and more.

This year Asilah will celebrate its 40th year of the festival, which turns its wall into the backdrop for an art gallery. Events take place throughout July and August. We visited recently and found some lovely new murals. In June, we saw them painting the walls white to provide a nice new canvas for the artists.

This sleepy little town becomes fully awake in these summer months. As you approach the Portuguese walled medina, the beaches are full. Restaurant on the beach serve fresh seafood and horse and buggies carry visitors through the streets.

Vendors sell peanuts harvested from around the local area and the sea breezes give relief to the hot Moroccan sun.

There are restaurants available at any price point. On the lower end we like Yali, and on the pricier side (and you can buy alcohol) Casa Pepe.

To hear the music and see the wonderful new contemporary frescoes on the walls of the medina visit Asilah during July and August. Shopping is great here with goods and prices that you won’t find in many other places in Morocco.

The Beaches of Tangier

There are no shortages of beaches around Tangier. We are having so much fun exploring them all. Interestingly enough, it didn’t really become beach weather until mid-June with the temperatures only in the low 70’s until then. Now they are hovering around the low 80’s and the water is still very brisk!

Easiest to get to, so always very crowded is the beach at Tangier Bay. This is the area where hotels abound on the strip of Mohammed V, so the folks staying there just have to cross the busy street to arrive at the beach.

Tangier Bay Beach
Tangier Bay Beach

Tangier Bay Beach
Tangier Bay Beach

A small local’s beach stands to the west at the end of the corniche called Merkala. This is a lovely small beach with mostly Moroccans. That made me feel a little less comfortable as most of the women are fully covered, even when they go into the water. I, of course, am not. This was my own self-consciousness however and not the judgment of anyone around me.
Merkal Beach
Merkal Beach

Merkal Beach
Merkal Beach

Further, down the west coast, you can find Ashakar. This beach is wide and long and seemingly goes on forever. You can certainly find a private spot here, but the waters of the Atlantic can be forceful and cold.

The stretches of undeveloped beach on the drive out to Asilah is amazing. It goes on for miles and miles.  You can see cows, sheep, and goats grazing in the grasses between the road and the sand. This time of year, people stake out a small area to spend the day, but there are no services here (aka, bathrooms), so you have to make do as you see fit.

As you get closer to Asilah, more resort developments start to crop up and the beaches in Asilah are active and busy. Most all of the beaches in Morocco are public and there is no cost to visit them. This is a sharp contrast to my experience in Italy. Most beaches are private and rows upon rows of umbrellas and chairs are set out for a price.

There are disadvantages and advantages to both styles, but for now, I am enjoying finding the perfect spot to spend the rest of my summer days.

The Cinema Rif in Tangier

The Cinema Rif originally opened in 1938. It is in the Grand Socco, just outside the walls of the medina. It is a restored art deco building. The cinema shows mainstream and indie films from America, Morocco, France and Spain. The foreign films have subtitles usually in French and/or Arabic.

Owned and managed today as Cinematheque Tanger it was restored as an arts complex. It is a hub for young people, playwrights, photographers, artists, musicians, and filmmakers.

It contains two studios, two cinemas, and a bar that serves alcohol, tea, and coffee. Outside there are some tables for tea and coffee service. No alcohol is allowed outside.

Today Cinémathèque de Tanger holds more than 130 collected movies on both argentic and digitals, 37 archive donators, more than 1,200 referenced documents, a collection of 16mm, 8mm and Super 8 amateur films in its archive.

Every month they issue a newspaper with the film schedule and special events. Since we arrived, they have had an Alfred Hitchcock festival, Casblanca anniversary, films featuring Bette Davis and now a cycle with Meryl Streep.

Movies generally cost 2.50 and you can get a card stamped for a free movie after you have been 10 times.

Casablanca was free and free popcorn was available to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the film.

Although the films are older, we are enjoying seeing them, usually for the first time. The ones that we have seen were certainly not on a big screen and it is interesting to note the changes in formatting, development, special effects and film techniques. The excitement of the Grand Socco, the history of the art deco building, the comfort of the theater and excitement of the cinema makes this a nice and inexpensive night out.

The New Tanja Marina Bay

The new Tanja Marina Bay opened in early June when the King came to inaugurate the property. It’s magnificent! Although only a handful of restaurants, bars and shops are currently, open. There is work ongoing to open even more.

Tanja Marina Bay
Tanja Marina Bay

Tanja Marina Bay
Tanja Marina Bay

Tanja Marina Bay
Tanja Marina Bay

It’s a nice walk out over the water. Luxury boats line the pier on one side, behind them rises the old medina. From the other side there is a fabulous view of the beach and modern Tangier.

We went early one morning for a walk and breakfast. Venezia Ice has a large restaurant at the very end. We found a table outside by the water and had a fantastic breakfast for less than $10. People were already staking out there spots at the beach and by the time we left, it was getting full.

There are 1400 berths for boats and a yacht club. The marina will cater to professionals and amateur of yachting as well as all types of vacationers and locals. The marina will provide numerous relaxation areas with cafés, cinemas, a convention centre and numerous public spaces distributed throughout the area.

Along the beach side there is the Port de Plaiseur that is teaming with people at all times of the day. Underneath are more shops, bars and clubs, although many of them have not opened yet.

There seems to be something for everyone here and I can’t wait to see how it develops. It’s a beautiful entryway into a beautiful city and country. I can see myself spending a lot of time here year round.

Swimming at Camping Miramonte, Tangier

When we lived in Italy, we had access to public swimming pools as well as private ones. We could go there for a day to cool off and relax. Now that it’s getting warmer in Tangier, we wanted to see what was available. Our first discovery was a huge success.

Camping Miramonte is located in Marshan, not too far from Café Hafa and the Palais Marshan. We took a petit taxi from Centreville for a cost of about $1.50 for both of us. It did take a little while to find someone willing to go there. The hill up is quite steep, scarily so. It’s definitely not walkable for me.

When we arrived at the gate, we paid 100 dhm per person for an entrance ticket That’s equivalent to about $10.20. We arrive at 11:00 a.m. The posted opening time is 10 a.m. It’s a short walk to the pool entrance. There are no changing rooms. This motel and campground pool is simply open to the paying public. You can change in the bathroom, but I recommend putting your suit on under your clothes.

There are tables and chairs around the three different pools, which are free seating. If you want a lounger, you have to see one of the attendants and pay 50 dhm for the chair. They bring out a nice padded cover for it. Believe me; it’s worth the extra expense.

There are three pools. The first round one has a variety of depths starting shallow at the edge and getting deeper towards the fountain in the center. There is a baby pool attached to it. When we arrived, there was a group of children, which I thought might be some type of day camp. There were young adults doing games and organizing them.

The second pool has a diving board and is very deep. The third one is deep and small with a wonderful view of the ocean.
You can’t bring food into the pool area from the outside but they have two restaurants on the premises. One is poolside dining and has pizzas and sandwiches at very reasonable prices.

The other is a nice dining room overlooking the sea. They serve the pizzas and sandwiches, but also fish and tajines and meat. These are a little more costly but still very reasonable. We ordered a fried fish plate for two, a Moroccan salad, two bottles of water and coffee and it was less than 300 dhm ($30). There was a lot of food and it was delicious ad a great value.

Camping Miramonte Pool
Camping Miramonte Pool

The day cost about 600 dhm or $30 each. This is a little pricey for Morocco. However, it is a great relaxing day and a clean, beautiful, and calm atmosphere. We will definitely go back!

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