Tag Archives: December 2017

How to: Drive to Morocco from Spain

I had only been in Algeciras, Spain for about 5 hours, and already it was quite clear to me that the only reason one comes to Algeciras, Spain is to stock up on groceries, and take the ferry to Morocco. There were hundreds of campers and RVs scattered around the parking lots of the supermarkets and hardware stores of this huge shopping complex. We spent our one day in Algeciras buying what we thought we might miss being away from Europe — wine, beer, sunscreen, and popcorn kernels.

Friday, December 29

The alarm went off at 6am this morning. It was pitch black outside and I did not want to move from my damn cozy van bed. I snoozed the alarm and rolled over onto Michael’s chest. “Hey Michael, what do you want to do today?” He smiled, “wanna go to Africa?”

We finally peeled ourselves out of bed and made the van ready for driving, or as we like to call it “car-erizing”. The drive to the ferry port was fast, not many cars on the road at this time, and we followed the signs that said TANGIER. We quickly found which queue to join, it was the one with 30 or so RVs and campervans. A quick check of our ferry boarding cards and we were on the boat.

We found a seat in the main deck and filled out our declaration forms. There was a huge queue of people along one side of the room. At the front of the line, two official looking men sat at a table and stamped passports and documents — customs. We would fill out our cards now, but wait until the line died down to go over there

When the boat set sail we went to the cafe and ordered a tea, a coffee, and two croissants. We sat at a table and scarfed them down. A man sat down across from us. He saw our passports on the table and, in broken English, with a thick German accent, told us how in 2008, he and his wife went around Canada, the USA, and Mexico for one year in a camping car. Cool! We chatted with him a while, about his time in Jasper and the Rocky Mountains, until Michael noticed the queue for customs disappear entirely, and the men begin packing up their computers! OH NO! We excused ourselves from the German man and ran to the table. The men rolled their eyes, the one unpacked his computer, and took our passports. We apologized for being late. The man looked at Michael’s passport. He saw Michael’s last name, “Quick?” he asked. Michael nodded. He closed the passport and handed it back to Michael. “Pretty slow if you ask me…” and smiled. Haha!

We went to the deck and soaked in our surroundings. Sailing away from the great Rock of Gibraltar, past the beautiful coast of Spain, and towards the rugged and totally unknown-to-us coastline of Morocco. The wind was crisp and the sun, still low in the sky, rose behind a few big, billowy clouds.


The German man came to meet us on the deck. He told us he comes to Morocco for three months, every year for fourteen years. In Canada, we would call this man a snowbird — someone who escapes winter in their own country and heads to warmer weather. He gave us some good advice about the border crossing, things to do in Morocco, places to see, and where to stay. He really set our mind at ease. If he can do this border crossing fourteen times, then we can do it once.

The ferry grew closer and closer to the shore, and when the announcement came on for us to go back to our cars, we said goodbye to the German man. We shuffled down the steep steps with the other campervan’ers, and waited in the van until we were told to go.

We drove through to customs and parked the van in some shade. We sat and waited. A man came to check the vehicle registration and our passports. We waited. I saw a drug sniffer dog go into a few cars. We waited. I saw them ask a man to take out almost the entire contents of his trunk, and then laughed as they all tried to help him fit it back in. We waited. Finally, they asked us to open the doors. We didn’t need to take anything out. The man looked briefly in the back, in the glove compartment, and asked if we had a gun or a drone. We have neither, so he waved us on. That was it! It was a long wait, about an hour or so, but so relaxed.

Morocco is going to be a huge adventure. I am happy to be here. I am happy be checking other country off my to do list. I am so excited to see what we have in store for the next few months.

Stay tuned for more tales of my Moroccan adventure! Let me know what you think in the comments. Been to Morocco before? I would love to hear from you, favourite places, suggestions what to see, where to eat, and any tips from fellow travellers!


Here are some tips for driving across the border from Spain to Morocco.

  • We did the crossing from Algeciras to Tangier Med. The ferry tickets are more expensive, but I received good word from one of my favourite Instagrammers (@sloopemc) that the Tangier Med customs experience is far more relaxed than the one at Tangier proper. She was right. The experience was super laid back.
  • We bought our tickets from Agencia de Viajes Normandi. The woman who helped us was very thorough. For €200 we got an open round trip ticket for two adults and one campervan less than 6m. She also gave us the customs forms to fill out for entry to Morocco, and for our exit in a few months, and she completed the customs forms for our vehicle. We went into this border crossing more prepared than I could have hoped!
  • The shopping in Algeciras is great. You can sleeping your van in the big shopping complex out of the centre (this is where we slept overnight). There is a huge Lidl, and an even bigger Carrefour to stock up on wine, beer, and whatever else you might miss from Europe. You can get alcohol in Morocco, it’s just kind of expensive.
  • Customs
    • Put your patient pants on. The wait is long, so prepare yourself for it.
    • We were asked if we have guns or a drone, since we have neither, our van wasn’t checked almost at all. I saw people nearby with the drug sniffing dogs having a sniff around their car, I saw others who had to remove everything from their car.
  • Right outside the border are people selling SIM cards and there are multiple places where you can have your money changed for Dirhams. After the SIM card people, you won’t be able to use Euros again

Five things to do in Lisbon for under €5

So, you’re in the capital of Portugal. You did a day trip to Sintra, you’ve spent a beachy day at Caiscais, now you’re looking for some things to do in Lisbon itself. Here are my top five things to do in the city:

1) Free Walking tour


I am not sick of writing it, I am not sick of doing it, free walking tours are the best activity one can do in any city. SANDEMAN’s New Europe free walking tours are some of the best free walking tours I have ever done (and I proudly say this with no compensation from the company). The tour guides are so well informed about the history of the city, and so clearly love this place, it is hard not to fall in love yourself. They work on tips, so you decide how much the tour was worth at the end. I generally stick to €5-€10, because I am on a crazy budget, but you tip whatever you feel!

Cost: €5 (-€10 if you’re not a cheapskate)


2) Get the view of the city from St George’s castle


You can take an elevator for €7 up most of the way to this observation deck, OR if you find the monastery, there is a little pathway beside it on the right. Follow the path and you will find the top of the elevator. You just saved €7, my friend! You still pay €3 to walk up the stairs all the way to the top of the lookout point and the view is spectacular. I would say it may even be worth €7 for the elevator as well as the €3, but then you will drink those two beers you bought with that €7 and you’ll thank me.

Cost: €3 if you take the shortcut!


3) Get Lost in Alfama


The streets of Alfama were built to make enemy soldiers get lost. It was some of Lisbon’s greatest defense! I can see how one could get lost… Turn a corner, and you’re at a dead end. All of a sudden, the only way to get home is by climbing a super skinny, dark, steep staircase. Streets are only as long as 100m until they turn or end. Go, wander, bring some water just in case. You can continue making your way uphill and find the Miradouro das Portas do Sol Observation Deck for a view of Porto you won’t quickly forget!

Cost: Free. €1 if you buy a shot of Ginginja…


4) Eat dinner at Time Out Market


The Time Out Market, located a quick walk from old town, is a restaurant market full of many different vendors selling many different food and drinks! It’s the perfect night out, because everyone can get something different! I had delicious croquettes from Croqueteria Está Aquiz, tried some Oysters from Monte Mar, and split a bowl of Poke from the Hawaiian fusion place. Come here to drink beer, eat a delicious meal, and people watch.

Cost: Whatever you want it to be!


5) Eat a pastel de nata at Manteigaria


A Pastel de Nata is an incredibly delicious, creamy, custardy Portuguese pastry. In Lisbon you can get one from any bakery, but the best Pastel de Nata is from Manteigaria. When you are walking through the streets of Lisbon and you hear a bell toll, no, it is not a church bell (well it might be, there are a lot of churches in Lisbon) it is the bell of bakery Manteigaria signifying you that a fresh batch of Pastel de Nata has just come out of the oven! RUN there. Do not walk. The most amazing custardy tart awaits you!

Cost: €4.50 for two tarts, a coffee, and a tea


Looking for some more inspiration? Read about my day in Lisbon here!

Heading to Porto? Check five things to do in Porto here!