Spain, Portugal, Morocco tips and suggestions please
My wife and I will be leaving Frankfurt May 6 on our 2003 1800 Goldwing that has been shipped from Canada, headed to the south potentially across France, down the coast of Portugal into Morocco. Are we better off to head to Morocco the fastest way possible before it gets too hot and then make our way north as the summer approaches? Should we go through the middle of Spain to get there asap?.
I would love suggestions for places and roads to ride and especially suggestions about Morocco. We are considering a loop from Tangiers, Casablanca, Marrakesh, Zagora, Erfoud, Fez and back toward Tangier.
What about suggestions for the Burgundy and Bordeaux regions on the way. We will be in Europe until about the middle of July. We hope to go up toward England, visit our daughter and fly back to Canada from there. Generally we like to ride along the coast in a way that puts us on the coast side of the road. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
okay, here we go.... maybe not all info is applicable for you, but it is also a memory-dump for me ;-)
Time of travel:
It is a bit chilly now, and in mid winter it can be freezing even in Morocco.
France is crowded with tourists in July & August (mainly Dutch ;-)) and I always avoid this. Campings ware a lot cheaper in low season too!
France: I don't really like the west coast that much; think Bordeaux is a bit boring... but that may just be me. The east is very beautiful, also the Alps are really nice! I love the central massive, really nice.
- Peage is expensive, north to south is about 50 euro's per bike. You can easily avoid the toll roads and have an amzing ride (but a bit slower) on 'Route National', or RN. Nice roads, takes you through all nice little french villages.
- Cheapest gasoline is at big supermarkets, or hypermarkets. Huge difference with gasstations near the roads.
- Cheap camping: ask/look for 'camping municipal', that are non-profit goverment campings. Sometimes boring, sometimes surprisingly beautiful. Always cheap.
- On the south, where the Rhone goes into the Meditteranian, you can camp for free on the beaches.
- If you are in a hurry, from Germany (Dusseldorf) you can take a car/bike train to Narbonne, but that is expensive. From there, you can drive to Barcelona, and hop on a ferry to Marocco.
To give you an idea, we drove a few years ago with the car and bikes on the trailer from Luxembourg to Algeciras in 26 hours. Only peage, slow car though ;-)
- Gas is cheaper here than in France
- Fastest route to the south is via the coast; peage. Cost is about 50 euro's per bike too.
Portugal: never been there.
- Ferry from Algeciras to Morocco is easy, there are plenty available and we payed about 110 euro's , two way for bike+rider.
- Border is easy, Morocco wants to stimulate tourism. European insurance for the bike also covers Morocco.
- The north is dodgy; just drive to Chefchouen (about 200 km's south) on a clear day, as you come from the ferry e.g. in Ceuta. Don't stop for people, they just want to sell you drugs. We really didn't like this part... Chefchouen is nice, from there on we loved the country and had great fun.
- Campings are nice, although you'll find them sometimes super basic. (put your tent on the parking lot... ;-))
- Moroccans are supercool people, hope you speak some French! They all do.
- Roads are good, can by gas everywhere. Easy on a big wing ;-)
- Don't forget to camp in Ouzoud at N 32.00.351 W 006.43.177. Say Hi to Paul and Renate for me; great people. Can also tell you everything you want to know about Morocco, so you might camp/slep there on your way down?
On my website (Far Away From Flakkee) you can go to the tab ' vakanties 'and check out our route and pictures. Any questions, feel free to ask.
I have to say that I had a great trip around BC and Alberta quite a few years ago with excellent memories of your neck of the woods with its' big wide open spaces.
You are used to those big spaces, so you will find Europe pretty crowded in comparison.
But, you really need to dig into the threads that are in here, especially under "Morocco" and "Europe"; there you will find lots of information and ideas for riding - after that you will be able to ask more specific questions, or just go with the flow as I did in Canada. That is not a bad way of getting about because you will be outside the main holiday season if you do finish before mid-July.
+ here's another good source of information:-
I hope this helps in your thoughts and plans.
ps Don't discount Germany in the late spring; the Black Forest for instance.
black forest is nice, but I have only been there after driving through the Alps... then it is a bit boring I think ;-).
The Alps are amazing; especially the Swiss part of it. Not dirt on the roads, amazing pavements... really nice for touring. The French part is nice too (and Italian), but I thought they were not as amazing as the Swiss part of it.
Again, on my website you can find pictures of this trip too; might give you an idea!
Gopdebeek is coming from that home area to visit Europe/Maroc.
Hence I still think he should read into what is on offer in his areas of choice and the HUBB is a good place to look. In his shoes/riding boots & with the time he has available I would also head to Maroc, and he is starting out from Frankfurt.
Yep, central France is worth a look - the Massive Central for its' extinct volcanoes, + the Vercors region is worth consideration.
@ Dave: yeah, also other people read these posts.... thought it could be interesting to give some more info than asked for ;-)
France: I love it, and think you shouldn't drive 1 meter onto the Peage unless in a super hurry. And the Alps: I don't know BC, but I love the small scale agriculture you can witness from various small campsites... just people with a few cows; amazing that that still exists in modern Europe! That 'cosyness' is pretty special for the Alps I think, and gets better in the south.
If you don't mind driving hairpins on smooth gravel, google a bit on 'Tende' and 'Col de Tende'... you'll get what I mean ;-)
Yes, nowhere in the Alps is especially remote, and you touch on one aspect of that region which is distinctly different from the Rockies. So, yes, I wouldn't write off the Alps as a region for someone visiting from Canada, assuming that he and his wife haven't been there previously.
Neither of us knows what Gopdebeek (doesn't that name sound Dutch!) wants to actually achieve with his journey - cultural, scenery, riding routes (most likely from the OP) etc.
some random musings...We did a quick spin in Morocco for only 5 days in 2010. The Ceuta border took hours and from the time you get there everyone wants to "help" but always in a friendly yet persistent way. There are rules for official helpers so if you want to say yes to anyone make sure they have a badge. It took me a couple days to get used to it, we got followed a lot (on foot and vehicle)and taken on a few rides...If you arent nicely firm, before you know it you will be paying some guy to visit an orphanage & buying the kids milk and cookies...
The scenery is varied and beautiful, the roads on the eastern side get a bit worse as you go south. We were on a VFR and just took it slow to mind the potholes. There is some new highway in the west. Fes is definitely an intense cultural experience but similar and less busy/touristy is Mekhnes which was lovely. The old cities basically have walled mazes in them which you cannot drive in. we arranged by phone to stay in a nice riad and they send someone to arrange secure parking & help carry your gear. Not cheap tho but we made up for this with a little wild camping ;)
We went in June and generally the weather was pleasant, especially in the mountains. We got down to Errachidia where it was pretty hot during the day but dry - so not unbearable. Not much in between there & Fes but cool landscape. (there are a couple sizable towns to stay/gas up & finding gas was not an issue) erfoud is one of the spots where you can visit the dunes & the camels but sadly we didnt make it, I sprained my ankle badly. Will have to go back!
Have fun and dont forget to buy a rug. Bargain hard and have tea after the deal is concluded:)
from Frankfurt you can go to Freiburg(Dreisamtal),Luzern,Montreux,Geneve,Grenob le,Gap,Orange,Arles,
Essaouira,Asilah,Tanger,Tarifa,Vejer de Frontera,Cadiz,Sevilla,Evora,Lissboa,Porto,Burgos, San Sebastian!,LaRochelle ,Paris and than to England.
That`s a nice trip
I'm going to make a trip to the South of Spain from The Netherlands. I thought I maybe could make a very short trip into Morocco, just get to the other side in the morning, do a nice trip during the day just to get a little impression and go back in the evening, Tarifa to Tanger is 35 minutes so in theory it should be possible. I understand it's not that easy, going in July, I've heard about 6 or 7 hours to get across, Tarifa - Tanger MED being the best option. And many stories of drug selling annoying people in the northern parts where the tourists come in. If I had more time to visit Morocco to go deeper south maybe it would be OK but now I think I pass.
Part of our trip last year
The trip you are planning was exactly part of what we did last year.
To see it visit us at Two Wheels move the Soul
We left April 29th not May 3, but had great weather thru France, Spain and Portugal and got the only rain on our trip in Morocco.
Don't worry about heat at the time you are travelling and leave Morocco until you have grown accustomed to your travel tastes.
Spain will be a bit more difficult culturally than France, Portugal different agin, and then Morocco, wow, very different.
To cross into Morocco you have several choices, we crossed over after doing Spain and portugal, again consult our blog for our route, and we crossed at Algericas Spain, and we returned from Tangiers Med port thru Barcelona to Genoa Italy. It was actually far cheaper and more time effective than driving the bike.
Hope this helps, and I can share all kinds of stuff with you.
Do Morocco east to south to west then back north otherwise you may not do it all.
Advice in portugal
Hi, I m a portuguese traveller and if you want to discover the non touristic part of Portugal, and for me the most amazing , go to the North East (Tras os Montes) starting from Porto, going up the lovely road along the Douro River. In Tras os Montes you know how was Europe some centuries ago! Good people and food :)
I Augoust all emigrant came, so it s not a good time to go there.
In Marroco I love the western Sahara. If you go down a bit further till Tarfaya, you ll discover a new Marocco!
CHeers from Cairo
Not 2 late trip (father and son roud Africa on a Renault 4L)
Indeed the Alps are very nice. I travelled last year over the Route des Grandes Alpes and it was very beautiful. I'm planning a new trip through Spain and in the north the Picos de Europa are very nice too only the area is not so big.
If you can imagine riding in Arizona or new Mexico, that's what Spain and Portugal is like.
Difference is they speak a different language and use different money. But more or less the same. With a coast line and the sea.
Hi, we took our first offroad trip from UK to Morocco last June (bit of a road-test). Great drive through france (it always is) without using Autoroutes (expensive tolls for car) and plenty of camping - just turn up without booking in most villages away from main tourist spots. Crossed into Spain over Pyranees south of Biaritz. N Spain very nice - from Madrid south to the ferries for Morocco is dull, flat, dusty, all-round pretty miserable. No camping to speak of, some reasonable hotels.
If you go to Morocco (highly recommended - fantastic people generally, marvelous countryside, facinating towns) best bet is definately Tanger Med port (brand new, quiet, few touts, fast). Agree with previous comment - get to Chefchaouan for first nights stop. Northern area can be beautiful in Riff Mountains but found the people pretty pushy and constantly wanting to sell us cannabis.
Chefchaouan very pretty mountain town with a bright blue painted medina. Quiet campsite just above town, hotels in town.
After that, Fez facinating, Meknes smaller and quieter, we found Marakech a bit of an overload for the senses (but worth seeing at least once).
Without doubt the best part of the month we spent touring there was either in the Atals mountain ranges (magnificent views which vary every valley you enter, VERY friendly people, basic but reasonable camping and lots of Augerges) or the desert areas - Merzouga (stay at the Panorama Auberge, on the only small, black hill overlooking the dunes - cheap and friendly, great food), Tafroute (v pleasent, 'African' style savanah's, fantastic rock fromations). Most places south of the Atlas are basic but well worth the visit - it really does feel like another world but (once again)very friendly.
Other than that only advice I would give is avoid Agadir; windswept, 1980's style package holiday resort. Head 100k up the coast to Essouria - lovely 'Portuguese' fishing port.
Finally, fuel available pretty much everywhere, food good. Banks / ATMs really only available in the bigger towns. Many people speak basic English but most speak French. Increadibly welcoming / helpful and not seen may tourists over the last 18 months.
On way back we couldn't stand the misery of driving through central Spain again so wandered along the coast of Portugal and in and out of the mountains that seperate Portugal & Spain until we got far enough north. First time in Portugal - very nice.
Sorry it's a bit of a rambling message. Have fun (we did), about 8 weeks in all.
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