The journey to Spain from Tangier would have easily been one of the most stressful and frustrating we’ve had on this trip so far. The lack of information, assistance, and punctuality we experienced combined to create one monster of a headache.
It all started when we were told by a fellow traveller in Fes that there was a second ferry port, Tangier Med, which is about an hour out of Tangier city. Ferries leaving from this port are quite a lot cheaper but arrive in Algeciras instead of Tarifa. This didn’t make much of a difference to us as the buses from either destination to Seville were the same price, we just needed to figure out how we were going to get to Tangier Med and at a low enough price to make the potential saving worth taking the alternate, longer route.
After buying our Tangier Med ticket online and spending an hour or so frantically searching on transport sites and forums to see how to get there, we finally found a fairly recent post about a cheap bus which leaves next to the main train station in town. After fact checking this with Ahmed, our Couchsurfing host at the time, he disagreed with the post claiming that the bus company no longer existed and that all buses leave from another location. We hesitantly took his advice and instead agreed to follow his instructions, then flicked off the light to rest up for our early rise.
We woke up before sunrise the next morning to avoid any chance of missing our 10am ferry, then threw on our backpacks and headed to the closest road to flag down a cab. On the way there my gut was telling me to follow the travel forum post instead of Ahmed’s instructions because as much as Ahmed had all the right intentions, it just wasn’t a trip that Moroccan’s made often and knew enough about. Anita said to go with my gut, so we headed for the main train station in town without any way of knowing if we’d made the right call.
When we finally arrived, a loitering taxi driver confirmed that there was a bus to Tangier Med but tried to steer us away from it, instead offering a 30AUD ride in his “quicker and more comfortable” taxi. We politely declined, and as he pointed us in the direction of the unmarked bus stop also told us the wrong number to catch. Luckily we knew the correct number from the forum post we’d read, but it just goes to show how unnecessarily evil some people can be. We saw the bus pulling up and at the same time everybody jump up and scurry towards the door. Although we now knew we had the right bus, we now weren’t sure if we’d even get a seat! Thankfully there were some polite male passengers that allowed Anita through as I was pushed to the side, but if it weren’t for those men we quite possibly would have had to take that cab after all. After an hour or so of driving we saw the port ahead but had no idea of where to jump out. Luckily another passenger saw our backpacks and cared enough to help us, tapping me on the shoulder and signalling for us to get off, so we did exactly that and began to walk towards the terminal. Finally, we could relax – or so we thought.
After some searching we finally found the window for our ferry company “Intershipping”, but when handing over our tickets were told our ferry was cancelled. When I asked why, the unsympathic attendant simply shrugged. I started to see red but managed to keep my cool, asking if there was another ferry soon otherwise risked missing the last bus from Algeciras to Seville. He said there was but it wasn’t for another six hours. I clenched my teeth and thought “Ok, I suppose we could just endure the six hours at the terminal and if we miss the last bus, look for a place in Algeciras for the night.” I went on to ask if there was any chance that the next ferry might too get cancelled and he again just shrugged and said “It’s the ocean, anything could happen”. By this stage I had to fight the urge to punch this guy through his protective glass window, so I took a deep breath and requested a refund so that we could book with another company. He said that he was unable to give us a refund as the ticket was booked online, and that we would have to call Intershipping Spain. After Anita defused the bomb that was my brain, we called Spain and confirmed that we could receive a refund simply by replying to our booking confirmation email. Knowing this we quickly booked a ferry with another company and proceeded through immigration, and after a painfully long wait on board, our 11am ferry finally departed two hours behind schedule.
As we were docking in Algerciras I had the idea of using the ferry’s wifi to check BlaBlaCar, an official and regulated hitch hiking app, for available rides to Seville from Algeciras. It wasn’t until we were being shuffled off the ferry and with the last bar of wifi signal that I found a lift for €7 cheaper than a bus ticket. I was in the final stage of processing the payment when a load of impatient passengers shoved me out the door and out of the wifi signal. Thankfully once we connected to the wifi in Algeciras we received an email confirming our booking, so headed straight to the port cafè and ordered a grandé cerveza (big beer), which after the day’s proceedings was easily the sweetest tasting beer I’d ever had.
Our very friendly but little English-speaking BlaBlaCar driver scooped us up right outside the ferry port and sped us towards Seville as we used the time we had to practice our Spanish. Once we arrived in the centre of Seville we were dropped directly outside our Couchsurfing hosts’ for the next two nights, couple Javier and Emily. Javier comes from a long line of Sevillians, so had a tonne of knowledge on not only the best places to see and eat but also of Seville’s history and customs. We spent a good amount of time getting to know our new hosts over a few drinks before it was thankfully time to eat.
It’s not unusual for Spaniards to have lunch at 2-3pm and dinner anytime between 9-11pm, something Anita and I as typically early eaters needed some time to adjust to. We went to a fantastic little tapas bar around the corner and Javier and Emily ordered us a selection of plates which were typical of the south, along with a few delicious glasses of vino tinto (red wine). We loved that you could simply order a “vino tinto” and know that whatever they’d bring you would be fantastic. The standard of wine just seems to be naturally better in Spain. We finished our dinner, took a short walk around town, then headed back to the apartment to crash.
The next morning Anita and I hit the streets for a bit of a self-guided walking tour around Seville. We visited the Plaza de España, took a stroll around the Parque de Maria Luisa, circled the Seville Cathedral, then decided to refuel with some more tapas and vino tinto for lunch. We then met Javier and Emily and let them show us around a bit before grabbing some beers and heading to a favourite spot of theirs next to the river. We spent the afternoon laying on the grass and relaxing in the sun, before all heading back for a siesta – easily one of the best Spanish traditions in my opinion.
That night Anita and I walked to a local taverna which had a free flamenco show, a style of Spanish dance which actually originated in the south. We watched on as the male flamenco dancer flared his arms, stomped his feet and dripped with sweat, all the time with the most intense look on his face. Once there was a break in the performance and we’d finished our drinks, we took a slow stroll through town and back to the apartment to rest.
The next morning we said goodbye to Javier and Emily as they headed to the beach for the day. We instead decided to spend our last day wandering the streets of Seville as we waited for our Amovens driver (a Spanish version of BlaBlaCar) to pick us up and take us to our month-long workaway in Aracena, about an hour’s drive west of Seville and 60km from the border of Portugal.