4 May 2014, Sunday
Boarding the Tarifa-bound train was a breeze. No strategic whispering on how to get to the luggage compartment first before other travellers…HAHA. I even had 2 seats. At every stop, the train staff would go around checking tickets of every new passenger. Never seen him without a smile. It was a therapeutic ride through the quieter villages. I enjoyed the caffeine boost I had in the F&B carriage (to cool down the nerves). It was a precious me-time for each of us, I believe, as we would have another travel partner in Morocco. Our guide and driver, Said or whoever the agency sends to us.
Nearing Algeciras station, other passengers were all by the door eager to alight. 11am sharp. RENFE trains are always on time. I was prepared with the information we needed to get from the train station to Port of Algeciras which is about 20 minutes away. The streets and the landmarks we will pass by. We must reach the port as fast as possible, as we had to collect our ferry tickets and board the complimentary bus at noon to Port of Tarifa.
Knowing how hopeless (at times) we are at directions, we decided approach a woman in hijab. She doesn’t speak much English. Thankfully, she was taking the same route right up to Tangiers back to her hometown. Alhamdulillah! One thing for sure, she walked amazingly fast with her luggage. I had to catch up with her and keep a lookout for Nihla who was behind me.
I am glad we booked the ferry tickets online from FRS. The ticket costs EU35 per adult. We collected the tickets with our new friend (sadly, I forgot her name and no photos taken).
We waited for the bus and we had curious Moroccans asking if we were Emiratis (as our luggages had Emirates tag!). Our new friend told us not to board until we ensure the luggage compartment is finally locked and closed by the driver.
The journey was longer than expected. It took more than half an hour and I was worried if we could board the ferry on time at 1pm. But again, it wasn’t our fault. They won’t leave their passengers, right? All kinds of thoughts in my head.
Alighted from the bus, rushed to the port. It was a long queue, filled with tourists from all over the world! It was a relief after the immigration. Rushed in the huge ferry to dump our luggage where you could see many cars parked, all ready for their adventure across the Straits of Gibraltar.
Thought we could finally sit in peace in the ferry. But NOOOO. We had to queue up in the ferry to get a card that tourists must fill up. Sat down for probably another 10 mins, and guess what our half an hr ferry ride was over. No time to chill or even take photos. Our friend signalled to us to collect our luggage.
Naively, I imagined the ferry terminal to be like Singapore’s ferry terminal i.e. straight to the immigration hall. I was in for a shock when I saw the steep slope up to the terminal. I wish I had an extra hand to snap a picture. Struggled but successfully managed to drag my luggage. Our friend did not leave us even for a minute. She was always on the lookout for us. Once we exited, we hugged and asked if we knew anyone here. She was worried we were alone. At about the same time she asked, I saw a man holding up my name. I assured her that our agent will be driving us to our hotel.
*credits to Nihla for all the photos in this post