Jim rented a nice little Audi from Sixt and we headed out with Dick and Andrew for Northern Africa with a few little detours. Our first destination was Arcos de la Frontera which is the queen of Andalucías white hill towns. These towns are perched on white cliffs of the sierras covered with whitewashed buildings. Towns ending in de la Frontera were the towns that stood on the “frontier” between the Christians and the Moors and were often walled fortress towns.
Jim chose to drive to the top of the hill rather than parking lower down and walking up. This is Basilica de Santa Maria de la Asunción near the top of the hill.
Yes we had to drive through there.
Found a free parking space almost at the top of the hill, Audi is in the foreground.
The Basilica from the other side.
That is our road out of town. The video below was taken from that road.
A sweet little hotel on top of the mountain.
Large hotel terrace with a view.
Clifftop old town, newer part of town beyond the cliff.
Found this great little tapas bar for lunch. Jim is perusing the menu.
Driving down off of the hill was more difficult than getting up. At one point the road was so narrow and steep that Andrew scouted it out on foot. A local señorita told Andrew that she drives it but advised us not to try. We had to back up and turn around on the narrow street and try another road down. Jim did manage to scrape the side of our brand new car on a low hidden bollard as he was angling out of a very narrow alley.
We stopped in Jerez de la Frontera for a sherry tour at Sandeman’s but they were closed.
Tarifa Spain, the best ferry departure point for Tangier Morocco.
The stalkers are always trailing behind.
Leaving España headed for Morocco.
Dick and Andrew’s first trip to Africa.
Night view from our rooftop deck, five flights of stairs up from street level.
Stairs from kitchen/living room level to our fourth floor bedroom.
Our Airbnb was near the top of the medina which is the old Arabic part of town. A medina is typically walled, with many narrow and maze-like streets. We had to walk from the taxi parking lot down narrow, cobblestone, dirty alleys to our front door which is pictured later. Sandy was not comfortable here. She felt safe but the dirty narrow alleys just put her off. We went to a European rather than a typical Moroccan restaurant as everyone (except Jim) was a little uneasy and we were looking for familiarity. The food was so good at El Morocco Club that we returned here on our second night.
Much needed martinis for us.
A glorious morning, finally without rain, and a view of Bay of Tangier.
Heading out looking for breakfast. Where does one eat here?
Mosque entrances are traditionally green.
Still looking for breakfast.
Harbor view from an old fort.
Great omelets, coffee, OJ and service at this place along the waterfront.
A Kasbah is usually a fortress, citadel, keep or maybe a palace. We did not go to the Tangier Kasbah which is now a museum.
Sandy still feeling a little tense.
Gate into the Souk or market.
Colorful alleyways through the medina. Tangier was a little reminiscent of the Muslim town of Harar Ethiopia for Jim.
Andrew loves flea markets.
Sandy getting more comfortable in shopping mode.
Who buys food that is laid out on the street!
Outside of the medina in the newer part of town.
Outer wall of the medina on the left. We entered the arched gate above the police van for the next pictures.
This comfortable little alley is just below the first property acquired abroad by the United States government outside of the US. It was presented to the United States in 1821 by Sultan Moulay Suliman of The Kingdom of Morocco. It housed the United States Legation and Consulate for 140 years, the longest period any building abroad has been occupied as a United States diplomatic post.
The old Legation building is now a museum and cultural center for the study of Morocco and Morocco–United States relations. It was closed when we walked by.
Just love all of the empty alleyways.
Many feral cats everywhere.
Can’t drive your groceries to your back door here.
Going uphill in the medina to our apartment.
Jim is so great at finding his way around these mazes. Even map apps have trouble getting GPS signals with all of the buildings around. Home at last for cocktail hour.
Cocktails on the deck. Sandy is better now but still ready to get back to Europe early tomorrow morning.
Leaving Tangier. Our apartment was top of the hill on the right. New town is on the left.
Arriving back in Tarifa we retrieved our car and drove about 25 miles to Gibraltar.
Our first view of The Rock.
Jim loved driving across the runway.
We parked downtown and walked the main street which was somewhat quaint and definitely British. Our only goal was to climb to the top of the rock while Dick and Andrew wanted to wander the town. We had a quick beer at The Skull for hydration and headed to the Mediterranean Steps where the slog to the top starts. All of the research we did indicated two hours to the top.
The steps were high and uneven.
The path was quite rocky.
Looking north, back to Spain.
And there’s the top already.
Looking across The Strait of Gibraltar at Northern Africa, Morocco.
We made it to the top in 68 minutes, in spite of going slow and hanging on to each other in the rough spots. This is O’Hara’s battery at the top.
We were really elated with the climb and the view.
Who knew there were monkeys, Macaques, on top of the rock??? Do you recognize this one
Walking down to the cable car stop.
It’s a fabulous piece of rock.
That is the top of the cable car.
The stalkers have found us once again in Gibraltar.
Not for everyone, standing out in space like that. This used to be a military lookout.
The signs said that the monkeys were not dangerous but they do try and pickpocket. At the cable car they were quite aggressive, jumping onto Jim’s backpack and freaking Sandy out.
We just loved Gibraltar and would highly recommend it for either a day trip or even staying overnight as it reportedly gets quite quiet with just locals around at night. Getting out of Gibraltar at rush hour was painful as a lot of Spanish people work in Gibraltar and there is a border crossing to go through both ways. It took us about 30 minutes to get across the border.
This was a bittersweet day for us as Jim somehow lost his wallet. Sandy was convinced that it was stolen out of the backpack while we were doing the jump pictures as there were two other people there with us and we were away from the backpack for some time. A week later we got an email from a guy in Gibraltar who found the wallet and tracked us down, he had to pay £1 to get our email address. Apparently Jim had just dropped it as all cash and cards were still in it. We had him keep the £90 and mail the wallet to us. The wallet has now been returned with €80 and cards still in it.