8 October 2013

From Seville to Rabat by coach, boat and train

After a day sight-seeing in Seville it was time to get back on the rails and head towards the heart of our holiday, Morocco.

This meant taking a ferry across the Mediterranean and that meant a coach ride to Terifa on the southern most tip of Spain. This still shows its heritage as a fortress town dependent on fishing and while there are some fishing boats left most of the craft are for pleasure or for the journey to Africa.

It takes just an hour to cross to Tangier and there were a few ferries moving in and out of the port. Ours was very busy and I suspect that most of them are.

The ferry was very much designed to get people, and vehicles, across the sea and not much effort had been made on the cruising aspect of boat journeys. There was only one small deck open to the outside and while this was full of passengers taking photos it also doubled as the smoking area.

The lack of a proper view did not matter much as we were soon out of sight of Europe and all we could see was the sea and the white turbulent mess that our boat was making of it.



Tangier was immediately different.

The heat was the same but the mixed building styles of Europe had been replaced by rectangular concrete blocks.

The area by the sea looked as though it had been improved recently with a clean wide promenade and a series of mid-rise blocks. It felt a little like Hove but with sunshine.

Along the beach were a series of bars, cafes and restaurants threatening late night discos and other such joys. Luckily this was lunchtime and all was quite. We went to one for a quick salad and a beer before heading to the station and our train to Rabat.

The train was delayed about half an hour and that gave me time to explore a little of the area around the station.



This was mostly more mid-rise blocks but this time they were due to become offices. There were a lot of new buildings going up so clearly something in the Moroccan economy was working. It was suggested later on the tour that this was the drug trade.

Our train was a little older and a little less comfortable that those we had become used to though that was to be expected and was part of the joy of the holiday.

We did not have reserved seating (that proved to be an issue at times) but were able to claim a number of the six-seater compartments in the first-class section.

It was quite hot by then, around 30c, and the air conditioning struggled to cope. It did just enough to make the journey bearable.

The glass could have been cleaner and that was a problem with trying to take photos through it. I managed a few, like the two below, which give some idea of the territory that we rolled through for a few hours.



The route followed the coast most of the way and at times we saw either the sea itself or evidence of its proximity, such as salt flats.

Most the time we rolled through dry undulating hills with regimented trees, mostly olives, and the occasional small settlement. We also saw quite a few cows, goats, sheep and donkeys either grazing or working.

There was also a vast amount of litter, largely plastic bags and bottles. The volume suggested that it had either been thrown out of trains or had accumulated next to the tracks for other reasons.

The route was largely single track and we had to wait a couple of times in passing places to allow other trains through. We were in no rush and the waits were an opportunity to open doors and get some much needed cooler air in.

We arrived in Rabat just as the sun set. Our evening meal was in the hotel, the Hotel Farah, and we ate immediately on arrival. The journey was interesting but all travel is tiring so after dinner we all retired to recover and prepare for the day of sight-seeing to come.

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