Saturday, 13 April 2013

Great memories

. Ray and Ann- our leaders, on more ways than one- many, many thanks.

. the Team- a diverse group who rubbed along incredibly well- thank you for your company and my birthday card etc etc.

. Gnomes and donkeys

. Chefchaoen, the dessert- not necessarily all good but memorable, Ouarzazate , Marrakech , Essaouira and the coast road to chic Oualidia.

And finally

Now homeward bound. The motorway was quiet, easy driving and free.We drove to Caceres where we all ate in the campsite restaurant which was excellent value as they did a menu del dia. Next day Gary and I caught the bus into the city and found Plaza Mayor and the old walled town which was full of beautiful buildings. We decided to have lunch in the square which was surprisingly warm and sheltered from the chilly wind.

A bright sunny day but very nippy. We travelled onto Tordesillas, 30k south of Valladolid . Some of us walked into the town which was attractive, particularly the Plaza Mayor , but dead as a door nail. After having an ok meal in the camp restaurant we had a silly hour playing Uno in Ray and Ann's van.

Day 47
Travelled ever northward towards Santander, back to snow topped mountains and even snow on the sides of the motorway. Steve took us to a super motorhome stop at Cabarceno, just east of Santander where there is an elephant reserve with buffalo and deer. We camped by the lake which was a lovely setting. After a few drinks in the village the men put the awnings together  because it kePt raining and we gathered underneath with our tagines, rounding off the day with UNO.

We said goodbye to Hazel, Steve and Kim as they were sailing from Santander .Then we went onto Bilbao with Ray and Ann, where we stayed overnight in the port.

We were up early so we were showered and breakfasted before boarding. This time , fortunately, we had a twin room with window. All was going well until we sailed out of the estuary. Gary and I soon felt unwell and we were soon honking in unison. Andy, a wagon driver, kindly joined in and tried to jolly us along. Eventually we plucked up our courage to move and took to our beds where we died. By 10pm it calmed a bit and by 2am became still as a duck pond. Happy birthday to me!

Day 50
We travelled home feeling much better but not at my best so any b/d celebrations went out of the window. Good to be home all in one piece.

We understand that Peter and Anette managed to limp home and will have a costly bill mending their power steering. Steve and Hazel got home safely but will have hassle with insurance companies getting the van mended. And Ray has whisked Ann off to the Docs to get her breathing sorted. We will be thinking of them all and hope that all goes well for them and we see them again soon.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Upto day 44

Hi all

After waiting 6 hours for the 1am boat which never came we finally sailed by5.30 arriving back in Spain at Algercirus by8.30 Spanish time in the dark and rain. We had a bit of unexpected hassle going through customs then drove back to Liddl car park.

We spent Sat restocking and waiting to meet up with Donna and John who had been way down south below Agadia, where it was really hot- next time I think we will be going there too!

In the evening we all went to a nearby Chinese Wok place, very swish and the food was amazing. I stuffed myself on duck pancakes and prawns of all sizes.

Day 39

I woke up with stomach ache.

We all drove to La Linea and parked up just beyond the Gibraltar frontier. What a bizarre place that is- red English letter boxes and telephone kiosks and English policemen, English shops, M and S BHS etc and English fish and chips.

Next day we went to El Puerto de Santa Maria to a campsite. They had had a lot of rain and the pitches were saturated so Hazel and Steve and Gary and I camped on the road and Ray and Ann on a pitch. We planned to  do tagines, rather hatred by the wind but ended up a riotous evening playing UNO in H and S's van.

The sun came out next day so the worshipers amongst us made the most of it. Gary and I also had a cycle , yes me on the bike, into town which has a lot going for it but lacked buzz at 6pm. It was a lovely evening and we all sat out for drinks.

On Wed  3rd Ann and Ray and G and me went by taxi and boat over to Cadiz for some sight seeing. It has to be said, it was quite rough and as we arrived the heavens opened and I found I had left my coat behind! We spent some time over coffee in one bar then ran to another where Gary and I had menu del dia. On route we fortunately passed aChinese shop where we bought a cheap pocho so I was sorted for the weather.

After lunch the sun came out for a short time so we caught the open top bus and did a tour of Cadiz- much the best way of seeing the sights on a poor day and Cadiz is rather wonderful.

When we got back it was a lovely sunny evening and we all decided that El Puerto is yet another place to come back to.

Day 44

Last night it rained and stormed most of the night and today it's  rained all the time we have been driving up the motorway to Caceres, stopping just as we arrived. We lost our leader around Seville but found him again eventually at the camping. He can't get away from us so easily. It seems like a very nice sight and we are all going out tonight to eat in the restaurant .

Going back in time- having Atlast got  some decent Internet - looking through the blog ( I think a map of Morocco and Spain would be of help- admittedly advice rather late in the day) I think I have missed out our trip from Marrakech to Essaouira, our first coastal stop . If I am repeating myself please forgive me. It didn't get much of a write up in the guide books but we well impressed. We enjoyed the souqs, the harbour the town walls and the ambience and would certainly go again. We had prawns and sardines in a harbour shack and takeaway pizza with a bottle of wine back at the van.

I hope I hav't missed out anything else of importance

Friday, 29 March 2013

Day 37

Me again

 Here we are sitting on the dock of the bay waiting for our boat, having just missed the 10 am one that left at 11 am. We watched it sail away. We got through customs remarkably quickly, only half an hour, but its rather disconcerting that we are the only vehicules waiting. I see no ships!

Last night we all got together for tagines and sat round the braziers in our jallebes. A fitting end to our Morroccan trip.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Up to day 35

Rossy again

We managed to find the coast road to Souira Kedima which was a reasonable road due to the llack of traffic where the main form of transport seems to be donkey and cart. We made many stops to take photos of donkeys pulling ploughs,  donkeys carring heavy loads, camels sheep and long stretches of fields running down to the sea. Souira is a purpose built holiday resort which out of season is left to the high winds and weather and looks neglected. The long prom was covered in sand dunes but the parking end, run by a French man was cleared. We stopped for lunch but ended up staying overnight as the sun was out and we enjoyed our first  boozy lunch and dozey afternoon.

Next day we continued on the coast road to Oualidia- a place I was keen to visit- admiring the views of the Atlantic hitting the coast, lots of cultivation right down to the sea's edge. Oualidia has an air of chic French holiday style and the view of the lagoon as you drive down the hill is stunning. Sue and Jon arrived in the pm and at night we ate at e restaurant recommended by the reception man from Marrakech.  We chose the menu which was vague, but we ended up with soup, salad, a platter of sea urchins and oysters, a platter of fried fish and calamari , a huge spider crab, a platter of large fish from the lagoon and then creme caramel and strawberry tart! We were totally stuffed and fished out. We think it was because we' d had it recommended. Fantastic value at less than £12 pp.

Our next destination was up the coast again to Mohammedia where we met up with Sue and Jon again. We ate in as too cold to stay out. We feel to be on the homeward stretch as the weather is getting worse the further north we go.

Next we were aiming for Kenitra but the sight was crowded and scruffy, though it did have a new swimming pool in the middle so perhaps  it might improve. We travelled on instead to Moulay Bousselham which is by a lagoon known for flamingoes  though I haven't seen any yet. We have been hitting the motorways recently which is a great relief after the potholed roads around many towns. It has certainly been a testing holiday for our vans. Our sight is attractive but the weather is poor with heavy showers. We are just going to investigate the town as it seems to be brightening.....

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Up to day 28

Rossy here again.

We were glad to leave the desert and we drove ontoTinerhir Camping Le Soleil but by the time we got there the sun had gone for the day and the pitches were shady. We stayed a couple of days to investigate the Todra Gorge which was impressive but very windy. We also had an adventure in the palmeria getting lost among the local's allotments.

Our next stop was Ouarzazte- pronounced like Tommy Cooper- wazazat!(with the hand action too) a more interesting drive with villages, towns and kasbars. Pete developed a prob with his power steering and just made it to the campsite which was more like a car park. This is an area used in lots of films and so there are film studios and museums etc to tour. Also there is a kasbar and Berber town that we went round with a guide-all very interesting. Our guide took us places we would ever have dared to go. The buildings are made of pise-mud and stones from the river and straw and many are crumbling because if not maintained the rain on the rooves washes them away.

Some of us took a 4x4 to Ait Benhaddon across country to another kasbar which has been used as a film location many times. Another site to remember. At night we ate out at a more up market restaurant but the menu was much the same as ever- salads, tagines and couscous. We wonder what else the locals eat though we have seen things in the markets that we don't fancy trying.

We took the tortuously windy road over the High Atlas Mountains to well over 2000 mts-fortunately there were few mad wagon drivers. Pete still having a pro with his steering which didn't help. The camp site is very pretty with lots of flowers, good facilities and a beautiful pool.

We have been into Marakesh a couple of times so far. We explored the main square and the souqs where you can get lost and never be seen again. In the early evening they put up huge wrought iron stall and barbecues  all over the square but what a hassle to eat there unless you make your decision quickly. It is an experience not to be missed though. Also sitting on a balcony watching it all happen. We have done some of the cultural stuff- gardens, a palace, tombs and the Jewish quarter ( inadvertently ) mainly on foot. We were given very odd directions along the way- through shops, down narrow alleys and through a Hamman massage parlour. You wouldn't get this on a Thompson's tour.

The weather has been better recently so today we have had a chill day. I've done the washing and Gary has had his hair cut and we've lazed by the pool in the sun. This is the life.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Up to day 20

No one seemed to like Fez very much probably due to wind, rain and cold. We went into Fez with S and J with difficulty but eventually ended up at the medina which was endless-loads of little shops selling everything. We had a tour of a tannery which was an eye opener and had lunch in a Riad.

Day15 travelled south-everyone desperate for some sun-amazing views, snow topped mountains, barbarise apes, changing scenery to barren areas, Ifrane, where the king comes from-very European looking, still going from very poor to obviously wealthy. Went through middle Atlas over 2000mts to Medelt where we sat in the sun for 1 hour-1st time I've had my shorts on but soon back in jeans and jumpers.

Day 16 Dramatic barren views as we journeyed on to Source Bleue de Meski, an oasis. Beautiful and sunny so all sat out and even had a barbecue and the locals came to entertain us with their drms. We bought a jellaba each to keep warm.

Day 17  Drove down to the desert. You could see the dunes, rosey pink as you drove towards them as the land was very flat and barren. We passed lots of kasbars en route and then turned left across the plain-rough piste-where we crawled along to the edge of the dunes. Not quite "Ice Cold In Alex" but Ray's exhaust dropped off and Dave backed into a sand dune and broke his bumper

We had 2 days in the desert. We watched the sunset from the top of a dune which was fabulous the star gazed with bins, telescope and aps. Next evening some of us went on a camel track to see the sunset which was a great experience and we were only 5 miles from the Algerian border.

day 19 got up to blue skies and sunshine. 40 Dutch bikers arrived at the hotel the night before and we watched them lining up for a photo shoot on a dune behind our vans. We were on the opposite dune taking photos and laughing about how they looked as if they would set off and try to jump over our vans when, would you believe it, one of them did just that and crashed into the back of Steves van. Jon ran up the dune to stop the rest of them. They could see the tops of our vans from their dune so no one can understand what possessed her. The girl was badly injured and taken away in an ambulance and a lot of damage to S's van, bikes and locker but the men managed to make it road worthy. It brought a whole new meaning to the phrase "a Flying Dutchman".

We eventually got on the road to Tinerhir camping Le Soleil just as the sun had gone for the day. We passed what looked like slag beeps all the way but Ray says they are pillow lava- not very attractive.