A Day in Tangier on 200 Dirhams

Tangier, Morocco, is a city known for its unique culture, ability to attract famous musicians and writers, and its affordability. With only three weeks left in my new home, I decided that it would be interesting to see just how easy it is to spend a full day in the city with only 200 Dh—about $20 USD or enough to buy a large pizza and 2L coke in the United States.

Leave Campus 9:00 a.m.
After repeatedly ignoring my alarms for several hours, I work up the strength to break free from the grasp of my warm bed. Now that I’m awake, showered, and dressed, my next order of business is breakfast.

Remaining: 200.00 Dh

Eric Kayser Bakery 9:15 a.m.
The smell of fresh croissants wafts in a 100-foot radius of the café’s modern glass walls, leading my still half-asleep body through the front entrance. In the inner portion of the café there is an arrangement of breakfast food ranging from chocolate pastries and quiche to macarons of every color—all of which have both an eat-in and a take-out price, with the latter being cheaper. With my limited funds in mind, I select one Plié au Chocolat to go (7.50 Dh) and leave in search of somewhere to enjoy my breakfast for free.

Remaining: 192.50 Dh

“Lazy Wall” (Sour Al Meêgazine) 9:30 a.m.
No seating is available in the upper region of wall by the cannons. Instead I find a vacated bench several flights down, amongst the scattered groups of sleeping homeless men. My chocolate pastry is rich and sweet, its crispy golden-brown exterior crumbles with every bite I take—contrasting with its interior that is still warm and chewy. Other than the blanket forts from my homeless companions, the landscape in front of me is clean and colorfully green—reminding me of a local dog park near my home back in the States.

Remaining: 192.50 Dh

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Le Salon Bleu 11:50 a.m.
The secluded rooftop terrace is a nice change of scenery from the waves of French cruise passengers that fill the streets of the Kasbah. The entrance blends in perfectly with the surrounding residences: only a small blue sign and a framed menu reveal the actual identity of the tall whitewashed walls. I order an expensive cup of mint tea (20.00 Dh) and Kasbah Croq’ (12.50 Dh) to share with my companion, Alyssa. The tea is sugary and hot, the croq’ is smoky and sweet from its combination of roasted turkey and melted brie, and the complementary straw hat effectively protects my eyes from the glaring sun.

Remaining: 160.00 Dh

American Legation 1:00 p.m.
Despite being my second time through the legation, it is more memorable after reading the stories of American author Paul Bowles (there’s a whole room dedicated to his work)—it’s well worth the affordable entrance fee (20.00 Dh). The large rooms are empty of any other visitors—apparently French vacationers are not interested in the U.S.’s history with Morocco.

Remaining: 140.00 Dh

Unknown Nut Stand—Medina 2:30 p.m.
This undistinguished, closet-sized shop attracts my attention for one reason: the man is selling the caramelized peanuts that I’ve been searching for since I first had them in Jamaa El Fna Square in Marrakech. I ask for two servings (10 Dh), and receive a paper cone filled with the sweet and salty nuts—making for a perfect snack while traversing the medina.

Remaining: 130.00 Dh

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Café Hafa 3:00 p.m.
As a renowned destination in Tangier, Hafa’s multileveled whitewashed terraces have been attracting locals, tourists, and famous artists—including Paul Bowles and the Rolling Stones—for over a century. As a result of such timeless popularity, the café’s numerous mosaic tables are often fully occupied by groups of Tangerines relaxing in brown plastic garden chairs. Today is no exception, forcing Alyssa and I to sit at the last remaining table on the second lowest balcony. I order a cup of the best mint tea in Tangier (7.50 Dh) and enjoy the views of the bustling blue waterway separating Europe from Africa.

Remaining: 122.50 Dh

Medina 4:30 p.m.
I finally find the Moroccan flag I’ve been searching for, completing my collection of flags from every country I’ve visited. The shopkeeper’s initial price is unrealistically high, claiming that the material is the finest in all of Morocco. I barter down to a more reasonable price (50.00 Dh), less than half of what he was asking.

Remaining: 72.50 Dh

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Tanger Nord 6:00 p.m.
This is the only restaurant I have found near Avenue Mexico—a long bustling street that contains everything from counterfeit Nike apparel to kitchen utilities—that actually serves traditional Moroccan food. I order a sizzling chicken tajine served with bread and fries (40.00 Dh) and a 0.5L bottle of Sidi Ali water (12.00 Dh) to help quench my thirst from walking all day.

Remaining: 20.50 Dh

Le Gelateria—Iberia 7:30 p.m.
The air-conditioned rooms are crowded and full of cigarette smoke, as is traditional for cafés in Morocco when soccer games are being broadcast. After selecting a table with minimal exposure to the cancerous clouds, I wave my arms frantically to catch the attention of one of the waiters—who always seem to be preoccupied with something more important than their customers. I order one scoop of chocolate gelato (15.00 Dh) and sit back to watch as the final groups of French vacationers migrate back towards their docked home.

Remaining: 5.50 Dh.

After spending 10.5 hours navigating through bustling streets, dodging the never-ending supply of wild felines, fighting off unrealistic sale offers, and consuming lots of traditional cuisine—my day is finished. In the end, I have walked 13.42 miles shopping, eating, and finding amazing views while only spending 194.50 Dh—confirming that a full day in Tangier can be had for less than a pizza combo in the United States.

—Aidan McGowan

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Address list:

Erik Kayser
Rue Des Amoureux
+212 05 39 33 1683

“Lazy Wall” (Sour Al Meêgazine)
Avenue Pasteur

Le Salon Bleu
Rue de la Kasbah
+212 06 62 11 2724

Café Hafa
Avenue Hadj Mohamed Tazi

American Legation
8 Rue d’Amerique
+212 05 39 93 5317

Tanger Nord
Rue Ibn Zaidoun
+212 05 39 33 1264

Le Gelateria
Place Quiete (Iberia)
+212 05 39 37 990 04

 

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