I just returned to Spain after a two-day trip to Tangier in Morocco with my brother.
It was such an amazing trip which has given me lots of memories to smile over in the coming weeks.
Tangier, because it’s the northernmost tip of Africa and is only eight miles from Southern Spain, is considered the “doorway” to Africa and is a relatively cosmopolitan and mixed city. It has a large Muslim population and so alcohol is not promoted in the same way as it is in Europe.
This means that many of the restaurants, cafes and shops don’t sell alcohol. Even the supermarkets that do sell it have a separate “alcohol” section away from the main shop. The first restaurant my brother and I visited was La Fuga, which was stylish, modern and healthy, serving lots of smoothies, fresh juices and a variety of foods. We ended up with pizzas and “Nojitos” – they had a healthy selection of “mocktails” on the menu and not a drop of alcohol in sight. The nojitos were delicious – looked and tasted so lovely – it felt like a real treat to have them and made the meal really special.
It felt so refreshing and to be honest, different, to be in an environment where not drinking alcohol was the norm. Young people were out and about in cafes, in shops, in restaurants and at the cinema all having a laugh, behaving like young people do, but without the alcohol. Older men were sitting outside bars drinking mint tea, a huge contrast to the older men eight miles away in Spain, who sit outside the bars drinking sherries, wines and spirits. I felt really comfortable here.
Of course, I didn’t see the true underbelly of the city, where poverty is rife and drugs and alcohol are causing all sorts of problems, I only saw the surface of the city where alcohol didn’t feature at all.
Although I feel totally at ease and comfortable in the UK and Europe being surrounded by alcohol promotion and heavy levels of drinking, there was something really refreshing and liberating about being in a place where alcohol was absent. I can’t put my finger on why this was, but I felt more normal somehow. In the UK and in Spain, you’re usually in the minority if you’re not drinking. Here, I was part of the norm and it felt noticeably different.
What I did notice was how much more fun I have being sober than I ever used to when I was drinking. The amount of adventures and experiences we managed to cram in to two days was phenomenal and I have clear memories of the whole thing. The camel-riding, the caves, the markets, the coastal views, the famous cafes, the Kasbah, the Medina, the supermarkets, the haggling, the walks, the meals, the ferry crossings, the chilling in the lovely apartment and the playing with the Siberian Huskies our hosts happened to have. If I’d been drinking we wouldn’t have done half of what we did do and then I’d only have half a memory of that.
Often people worry they won’t be able to enjoy themselves and have a laugh when they stop drinking but I’d argue the fun starts when you stop drinking…
Have you been on holiday sober and have you noticed the difference?
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