In my time backpacking from here to there, I’ve met some real hardy folks who could survive on very little in pretty rough destinations. I do not count myself among their ranks. A week of constant hassling and harassment from Morocco’s tourism machine, I was in need of a mini getaway. Cue our short stay in Ceuta!
When traveling in Morocco, it is clear that the French have had a significant influence on today’s local culture. From the French street names, to the architecture, and the fact that many Moroccans can speak near fluent French. However, do not forget that geologically, Morocco’s closest European neighbour is actually Spain, and she controlled much of Morocco’s northern coastline for a good part of recent history before independence. When Morocco received it’s independence, Spain was able to sculpt out a few spots on the Mediterranean coastline for itself.
In these cities, Spanish culture prevails. You need to do a full border crossing, and instantly, you are transported to Europe (kind of). Everyone for all intents and purposes is Spanish. They speak Spanish, there are a bunch of cathedrals, and people eat all the pork products that you can dream of (I was dying for a charcuterie board at this point).
Ceuta is an essential stop if you are making your way through the North African coastline. There is nothing special here, especially if you’ve been to Spain, but it can be the break that you need if the craziness of Moroccan life is getting a bit much for you. Ceuta can be summed up as a series of cafes and small restaurants serving authentic and humble coffee, wine, and tapas dishes. The cities are wonderful to walk around, and if you’re itching for some Western shops to shop at, then this is your stop. Our days here consisted of waking up late, getting cafe con leche and churros from the cafe down the street, exploring the streets and beaches, then heading out for a dinner of tapas and wine (lots of wine). It is wonderful not to be stared at when you are going for a morning run, or not to have “China” yelled at you when you’re shopping.
To save money, Carrie and I found a small supermarket where we made sandwiches with prociutto and cappicola on freshly baked baguette, and some fruit. Total for lunch for the both of us was approximately 3-4 euros. If you want wine, the market will sell bottles for 1-4 euros, brands that would normally sell for $13-$20CAD.
Ceuta is definitely the place to unwind with a bottle of wine and some good tapas. But don’t stay too long because Morocco becons for your return to true North African life.