Driving along the Costa del Sol in Spain, the roadsides are littered with hundreds of Portacabins offering tickets for the ferries to Ceuta and Tangier. The problem with buying from them is that each one seems to only sell tickets for a specific ferry company, and so they may not travel at the times you want. Instead it is very easy to buy at the port itself.
09:00 We drove striaght to the port in Algeciras and bought our ferry tickets there, from the company which had a 10am departure. We parked in the “secure” car park for €18 for the whole day. Our open return ferry tickets cost €36. We were given our tickets and both a white and a yellow immigration paper.
What no one mentioned to us was what we were supposed to do with these papers. So we assumed we handed them to passport control on arrival. Big mistake!
10:00 We boarded our ferry and set off
11:30 (10:30 local) We arrived at the port, got off the boat, got in the queue to show our passports to the police… and were detained because we hadn’t already handed in our white immigration paper in exchange for a stamp in our passport. We were then sent back onto the ferry to get the stamp. To do this we had to join a queue at the reception desk. This was such an inefficient process that the queue took 50 minutes.
12:30 (11:30 local) By the time we got off the boat again, the bus from the ferry to the teminal had gone, so we had to wait another 30 minutes for the next one.
At the terminal, we had to put our backpacks through their X-ray machine. They took an unhealthy interest in our cameras, and seemed very concerned that we might be there either “to make a porno, sexy film” or as journalists. We eventually convinced them that we were neither, and were allowed to enter the country. However by this time, the bus to Tangier had also left!
13:10 (12:10 local) We caught a taxi to Tangier which we pre-agreed a price of €20 each way. We arranged for him to bring us back at 4pm. The drive takes about 55 minutes.
14:05 (13:05 local) We arrived at the Medina in Tangier. After a quick look at the English church of St Andrew with graves of many 20 year olds who had died in WW2, we went for lunch, the highlight of which was a spicy chicken pie with icing sugar and cinamon. Bizarre, but the combination was delicious.
We spent a couple of hours walking around the Medina, looking in the little stores.
17:00 (16:00 local) We got into the taxi for the return trip. “Another €20 for the driver”. Err, no. We agreed the price in advance. This went on for a while until we were about to get out and find another taxi!
18:00 (17:00 local) Back at the ferry terminal, we went to the ticket counter for our ferry company and had our open tickets validated for the 6pm sailing. Then went through passport control. Then the X-ray machine again. And once again, a lot of questions as to whether we were journalists or not.
18:30 (17:30 local) We boarded the boat and waited for it to eventually leave, 30 minutes late. The sun soon set.
20:40 We arrived back in Algeciras, Spain and went for a well earned tapas in Estepona (keeping an eye out for any CIA agents taking a break from their local training base)