The Med
June 12, 2007 GMT
OOPS, forgot to put this one up! Please read kids!

This latest offering sees us out of Morocco and back in the land of supermarkets and toilet roll....

The Atlantic coast is quite different from the rest of Morocco and, to be honest, not that exciting, other than the world's 3rd largets mosque and the thrill that is Casablanca (but you do have to think of of as 1940's rather than now) and it's the only part of the country that we saw that didn't have donkeys as regular road-users.

A blat into Tangier (note to other users, use this port, Sebta is horrible!) for the culture shock that is returning to Spain and our total lack of managing even the most mundne of tasks... (buying food on a Sunday? In Spain?) luckily we had our souk dates and almonds for emergency snacks.

Posted by Imogen Mitchell at 03:20 PM GMT
A bientot Maroc, bienvenue Europe (encore)

This latest offering sees us out of Morocco and back in the land of supermarkets and toilet roll....

The Atlantic coast is quite different from the rest of Morocco and, to be honest, not that exciting, other than the world's 3rd largest mosque and the thrill that is Casablanca (but you do have to think of of as the 1940's rather than now), and it's the only part of the country that we saw that didn't have donkeys as regular road-users.

A blat into Tangier (note to other users, use this port, Sebta is horrible!) for the culture shock that is returning to Spain and our total lack of managing even the most mundne of tasks... (buying food on a Sunday? In Spain?) luckily we had our souk dates and almonds for emergency snacks.

First stop, trouble in Gibralter, again with the Spanish police at customs. Maybe it's our swarthy, road grimed good looks that did it for them, but a quick look in our top-box and the nonsense biking items therein secured our hasty exit into paella-land..

Rigolos and the bike.JPG


After a few nights free camping in some gorgeous spots (red-necked nightjars harrassing our tent and nearly a roadkill cookout of partridge and hare) and some not so gorgeous spots (our fave, behind a garage in a building site), we hit the highs of Madrid and the blag that is staying at a siblings in a foreign land, hoorah and all-hail Imogen's sister, Liz, and her boyfriend Carlos.

Carlos was super fab and sorted out all manner of bike issues - into the garage for some badly needed repairs (new chain and sprockets, bearings and a general service) and we were told that the cost would be EUR 1000!! Fearing a money drain of massive proportions, Carlos was on the case and whittled them down to EUR 450, alas, 12 of that was cleaning as (get this) the bike was "too dirty to work on" what class, didn't they know we had been collecting that dirt? Where else can you coat your bike in camel, donkey, goat and sheep poo, mud, dust and sand?

We hit the tourist trail and upped our culture quotient with the help of Liz and her best tour guiding, wearing all their clean clothes and filling the flat with the mountains of laundry that disgorged themselves from our road weary panniers.

Finally dragged ourselves away from luxury and headed towards the Pyrennees for (more) birds in the peaks, including the awesome lammeigier (ask Marianne Taylor for the spellin) . Excellent roads and nose-bleedingly twisty high passes at 2800 metres, and one walk in our trainers in the snow to find wallcreepers (alas, they remained elusive), up to a high of nearly 3000 metres, torrential rain and storms...
sheltering in the Pyrennees.JPG
us cooking up coffee for 5 cyclists from Bordeaux and 2 German bikers, sheltering in a handy garage.


More near roadkill fun in the form of the slow-witted marmot (not to be confused with marmite as one hapless conversation went with a French climber) and 3 baby black-winged stilts in the Camargue, which Imogen skillfully shooed off the road whilst being dive-bombed by the parents.

Now soaking up the sun in the south of France (thank the Lord), the Med here we come.

James on the hunt.JPG

Posted by Imogen Mitchell at 03:20 PM GMT
July 09, 2007 GMT
Trouble with tribbles

Phew, what an effort finding internet cafes here! We˙ve been island hopping and volcano watching (yes, we did see smoke coming out of Etna!), firstly to Corsica, a bikers paradise with fantasic scenery, great roads (but a tad `rustic`) and we both fell in love with the relaxed attitude and azure beaches....

imi in front of mt etna.JPG

Midsummers eve was spent in traditional style nighttime skinny dipping in the Med (yes, IM is trying to swim!) and checkling out the myriad of prehistoric sites.

Bike issues included a new tyre after the hammering it got in Morocco (the guy asked us if we had been going up escalators!) and our top box being used as target practise (and we have the air rifle hole to prove it, right in the Spanish sticker!) and a new inner tube after James`s excellent gaffa tape repair held for only 1000 miles of hard hammering!

Sardina was a tad odd and we didn`t quite get it together there, so we skipped onto Sicily where we arrived in a heat wave (42°) which turned the hills into giant bonfires, we watched the flames coming closer and closer to the campsite as the sky turned orange and we were covered in ash, all very apocalyptic!

Met some fab bikers en route, mostly Maltese (!) so a big Pierat thumbs up to Conrad, Laurence and the gang heading to Amalfi, and the two that rescued Imogen from a near squashing incident at a petrol station after an oil change.

More rules of camping: any beach on a Saturday will be a party zone, so our free camping spots, incl one on a beach surrounded by what can only be described as tribbles, and one where IM shined her torch into the undergrowth and was greeted by many eyes glinting back at her (eeeek).

We blatted through Italy (too expensive!) but made a pit stop at Pompeii, where we also hit 10,000 miles, and nearly a spell with the Carabinieri after our last free camping spot was spotted, but a mixture of miming and smiling saw us making a clean getaway (phew).

The last few days have been spent in the lush green of Slovenia, a gorgeous part of the world where everyone is friendly and the bikers wave (hoorah), all a little bit Northern Exposure.

Now in Croatia and planning a route through the former Yugoslav republics..sorry for lack of photos, internet caff not too well equiped!

Any ideas about ticks gratefully received as IM picked one up in her armpit (!) after a beautiful camping spot in the woods (did see fireflies tho, so maybe it was all worth it!)

Posted by Imogen Mitchell at 01:50 PM GMT
 
 

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