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  • This view of a Spanish town, just after sunset, includes, on the far right, a bell tower. It scatters its metallic petals across the city on important festivals, like yesterday, which was Candlemas (or Candelaria in Spain).

    But before it was a bell tower it was the minaret of a mosque, built when this part of Spain was part of Al-Andalus. From which the name Andalucia derives. Which is where I am now.

    In the distance, behind Gibraltar (on the left), you can see part of Morocco. This is where you find Tangier, a city with an extraordinary history which has been the residence of Paul Bowles and Jack Kerouac among many others, and which was the birthplace of Ibn Battuta.

    Never heard of Ibn Battuta? Well, you should have. He was an Islamic traveller, a contemporary of the much better known Marco Polo, who travelled to China, Mali, the Maldives, Kenya, indeed the entire then-Muslim world, including Andalucia. At the time he came to Spain, the Islamic Golden Age was at its height. He was, and is, one of the world's greatest travellers.

    I could get a ferry to Tangier from here... anyone want to come with me?
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