Balmoral Day 10

Written by Safarigal
January 30, 2024

January 27th, 2024

Tangier, Morocco

Our last day in Morocco. I had it all planned out. I had bought tickets for the Hop on Hop off bus, which has 2 routes. We would do the first route in the morning, have lunch in a little waterfront café, and then spend the afternoon hopping on and hopping off the second route.

So I was very disappointed when I read the schedule for our stop in Tangier. The last shuttle bus left for the port at 12:00 noon, with sail away at 1:00 PM.

Well that did away with our lunch ashore and the second bus route, leaving us with a pared down version of the first bus route, and then a little time to wander around town.

The shuttle bus from the ship dropped us off at the 9th of April Square in good time to catch the first Hop on Hop off bus of the  day. The square is named for a speech King Mohamed V gave in 1947. There is a pretty mosque on the square, an interesting door, and a park nearby, which also seems to be a cemetery.

But the best thing about the square was the cutest little kitten we met

Who soon introduced us to its sibling.

I would have loved to stay and play with the kitties, but Brian said I couldn’t and anyway our bus arrived.

The bus goes all over town so I think we got a good overview of the city. We were impressed with the beautiful palm tree lined boulevards, and classical styled buildings. It really is a beautiful city.

We had a good view of our ship from several stops along the way.

There is a beautiful seafront area that extends for over 5 Km.

We had a good introduction to both the new and the older parts of the city.

At the end of the route we decided to wander around the older part of the city, the Medina.

This was not as frantic as Marrakech, and we had a very pleasant time strolling around the narrow, steep streets, and climbing up to the Kasbah at the top of the hill.

Then the captain’s words about only going out in groups, and avoiding back streets, sort of looking for danger around every corner came back to me. Were we foolish as a not so young couple to be off on our own in a maze of back streets? Maybe, but I just didn’t sense any danger, and I am pretty good at that.

Besides, the locals leave food and water out for the stray cats, who seemed to be very relaxed. Yes, maybe we could be relaxed as well.

We would have liked to linger longer, but time was fleeting and we had to hasten to catch the shuttle bus back to the ship.

Tangier has a very rudimentary cruise ship terminal, but they do have rather nice gangway to use to board the ship.

No sooner were we on board than the sail away party began. We decided to participate from the outside area near to our cabin on deck 9.

We didn’t get to dance to the band, but had a fair view of the goings on by the pool 2 decks below us.

There were free drinks – well there was a glass of a rather radioactive looking pink drink,  which despite my hopes might be a Bahama Mamma (well the Balmoral is registered in Nassau), turned out to be a concoction of vodka, cranberry juice, and grapefruit juice.

The big event was the swimming race. Teams from various departments around the ship competed against each other, and you could bet on your favorite team. Even before the heats started it was clear that the 2 teams to beat were the engine room team, who looked very serious and determined, and the entertainment team who looked very professional in their bathing caps and goggles. The rest of the teams seemed to be having a good time, clowning around and tripping over each other. Once the heats began it was clear that there were many swimmers who, like me, seem to be able to get around a pool doing a sort of doggy paddle. There was much flailing of arms and splashing water, but not much speed.

So it was no surprise that the 2 teams who made it to the final were the engine men and the entertainers. It was close, but the engine men won. The petite dancers who had lovely style and grace, were no match for the large, strong guys.

We watched Tangier slowly fade into the distance. I was sorry our time there had been so short, it looked like a really interesting city, and we missed out on going to Hercules Caves on the second bus route, but we have a fair distance to travel to get to Lisbon tomorrow.

The afternoon schedule was jam packed as usual, they really work the speakers and entertainers hard on this ship. I suppose there is just so much to learn about the history of this area, and as the cruise is called Cultural Morocco, there’s a lot of cultural information to learn as well.

Still, we could take a cultural break that wasn’t even Moroccan; Maria, the pianist, gave an amazing piano recital showcasing the music of Viktor Ullman, and showed a documentary she was involved in related to his music and the Holocaust.

I must admit I do have several complaints about Fred Olsen, but I love that they have such talented musicians on board, and that there are so many opportunities throughout the day to immerse yourself in live music. Maria has amazing talent and it really was a privilege to hear her play and watch the documentary.

After dinner we went up to deck 11 to do some star gazing with Fred Stevenson, the astronomer. Hot chocolate was awaiting us as we emerged into the rather chilly night. Unfortunately it was rather cloudy, and we didn’t get to see that much. It is all very well having a dark sky, but if there is cloud cover you might as well forget any great star gazing. Fred did lend us iPads that you could use to see where the stars would be if you could remove the clouds, but that’s not the same as the real thing somehow.

I decided that enough was enough and ventured back inside to go to the late show.

Tom Crosbie, the Rubik’s Cube genius from a few nights ago, was amazing us with his memory tonight. Well I was certainly amazed. Brian and I were sitting closer to the front than usual, and as luck would have it, he picked on me to name a card, any card. I chose the Ace of Spades, and sure enough he immediately produced it from his pack of cards. I don’t know how he does it, other than him having an amazing ability for recall. For 45 minutes he entertained us demonstrating how impressive his ability to recall useless information was. For most of us in the audience who cannot remember where we put our cabin key cards, he was fun to watch.

So we have said goodbye to Morocco. I have really enjoyed my time here. I know we just got to experience what tourists are exposed to, but I was really impressed at how lovely the people with whom we interacted were. I never felt afraid for my safely, the shop keepers weren’t at all pushy and took no for an answer, the people we met seemed to be tolerant of other folks beliefs, everywhere was so clean, there were no piles of rat infested garbage. Yes, we did only see the surface, but I really liked what I saw.

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I love to share my adventures with others, and hopefully give them some insight into what to expect on their own exciting travels. I hope reading my blog will be a useful resource, and inspire others to follow their travel dreams. As a travel advisor, I get great pleasure out of being able to help folks fulfill their aspirations by translating my experience in safari adventures and ocean voyages into memorable travel experiences for them.