May 08, 2007 GMT
UK to Gibralter 2007

We left UK on Monday 30 April via Condor ferries who were the one company that we found would give reductions for Senior Citizens ! They were good and secured bike for us.From Weymouth to St Malo and stopped quickly at Guernsey and Jersey.Arrrived 6pm to promptly get lost trying to find the hotel- road closed and diversions in place !

Through to La Rochelle on Tuesday and it was a cold and wet ride through Rennes and Nantes. A good drive though on deserted roads . Beware of filling up in France - alot of the garages will only accept French cards . We had to wait for a lady to pay on her card and we paid her cash!Petrol about the same price as UK.
La Rochelle is a lovely port area,pretty with the twin towers that guard the entrance to the harbour.All the children are still up at 9-10pm.

Stayed with some friends we had not seen for years on the Wednesday which was great.Then on to Condom on part motorway which you pay for but not expensive.This was a lovely ride in warmer weather at 14 -16 degrees. The no smoking laws are interperated differently here , in that there are areas in the bars and restaurants that you can smoke.
Condom is a medievil town and boasts a very impressive Cathedral with cobbled roads .We passed loads of vines as this is the Bordeaux district. The roads are deserted and it is a joy to be travelling.

Friday 4 May and into Spain via Tarbes and Lourdes and through to the Pyrenees.----OK then folks- who had to have 2 goes at crossing them ?!! It was cold, wet , foggy and 3 degrees and we failed to see the closed Col notice at the bottom.
Well , to be accurate, I did see it but did´nt register that it was 'our Col'! -----So, we had a lovely ride up and back down on a diversion route and Colin had no idea where he was as the map was too small a scale !Eventually ended up in Pau and traversed the Pyrenees via the tunnel! We agreed that coming down the P was more spectacular than going up- you just seem to descend for ages.Areas of no guard rails and just a vertical drop to the side.We have a lovely photo of the mountains in the fog but you can just see the snow capped areas in the background.

The other side was a different world- 20 degrees and we had a good trip to Huesko, Spain. These roads are also deserted and you can cover alot of miles in a short space of time. Petrol is 75p per litre and a bottle of beer and a Nestea is 2.07 GBP- cheap. Tourist menu of 3 courses is 13 Euro (1.4 E to 1 GBP) Hotels are about 60 Euro for the night including breakfast.Smoking is the same as in France, despite the rules ,they seem to make up their own mind which are the designated areas!

Sat 5 may and on to Requina through Zaragossa on quiet roads- even in the towns.The first part of this drive was very windy with cross winds that 'got you' on the high plains.Ther are plenty pf places to stop and eat on the side of the roads here with all amenities . Very traveller friendly.

Sunday and on to Jaen through the mountains that are spectacular on the N322 road.- Good biking road and the highest point was 3500 feet.Here you can stay on the bike as they fill up with the petrol for you!-- what an easy way of doing it! On the plains you have a panoramic view to the horizon of fields and fields of olive trees and cereal crops. Poppies are in abundance and there are no fields that lie fallow here and boy, are they self sufficient. Every house has a small vegetable plot.

Jaen is another town with cobbled streets and is old.It's lovely to sit in the square and watch the world go by - very civilised ! The restaurants don´t open till 8.30pm and often people are coming in to start eating at 10pm.We have managed to find a hotel nearly every night with secure parking as some where along the line we have lost the cover for the bike - hey ho- these things happen.

Mon 7 May and on to Ronda. It was a great ride and getting hotter by the mile !Took the 3221 which took us up through the mountains again and was a great drive - just as good as the Pyrenees.

Ronda is a lovely place with charecter and charm. Very old and is famous for the gorge. We actually got a hotel with a view right over the gorge. We were above the height of the birds flying and were able to see them nest in the rocks!The gorge is so deep you are unable to get it all into a photo.There are pavements that are marble or beautifully tiled.

Today we have seen oranges growing, so a sure sign that it is getting warmer.The roundabouts usually have a statue in the centre and the traffic lights in towns are above your head and are winking amber as you enter. If you do not slow down the flashing becomes quicker and then red.If you are first in the queue every one knows that it was you that was speeding !-- a good deterent and it really does make you slow down.

Tues 8 May and here we are at Gibralter. The first view was amazing in 30 degrees. It´s actually smaller than I had imagined.We are off to visit the sights tomorrow - our first day off since we left home.


Posted by Dee Masters at 05:24 PM GMT
May 10, 2007 GMT
Gibralter


Total miles to Gib was 1675. .

Anyway the trip from Ronda was great: through the mountains with towns and villages dotted on the side of the mountains and all the houses painted in white.

The first view of Gib was fantastic. A sheer rock face and a huge chunk of rock! The other side is full of trees.Just cannot believe that we are here in 8 days of easy travelling.Temperature is 30 degrees. We expected the traffic in La Linea de la Conception to be heavy but that was totally wrong. It was very quiet. Not as bad as a local town in UK.

We booked into a 4 star hotel at 90 Euro per night= so still cheap .

Wed 9 May and our first day off.We went up on the cable car and our first view was spectacular. The view over the sea of blue; with clear blue sky and the ocean dotted with yachts, liners and container ships. The monkeys are in abundance with plenty of young around.Playing and preening.

Gibralter town is nestled at the base of thr rock and is busy! Narrow roads .Petrol is 0.59p per litre but it could have been 0.59 Euro. Anyway its cheap! Cigarettes are 7.85 GBP for 200! It is a lovely place and a cross between a mini Hong Kong with the views and 1960 UK.

We did loads of walking about to see the sights and managed to buy a replacement cover for the bike.Next stop is Morocco.

Posted by Dee Masters at 10:22 PM GMT
May 16, 2007 GMT
photos

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A busy road in France at noon!


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Forts at La Rochelle.

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Pyrenees in cloud !

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Spanish cafe on side of road.

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On way to Ronda

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Spanish mountain town.

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Ronda gorge

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Town nestled in Ronda mountains

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Gibralter!


Posted by Dee Masters at 03:49 PM GMT
Morocco

10 May and we had an easy entry to Morocco after the ferry ride which was half an hour and cost 59 GBP.Through the formalities in about an hour with some help from 2 guys who expected a tip and got one!The customs guys picked up that we had been to Iran and Pakistan and called Colin over to quiz him about it.The entry for the locals was very different and they were being taken apart at the seams!

The smell was different as soon as you crossed.A mixture of heat, spices and drains.All the thermal kit is stowed away now and we are well loaded! Arrived Tatouan at 3pm and ended up in a 2 star hotel that was not what we would recognise as 2 star.We have had worse and the shower was a 2cm stream of water! The bar of soap in the bathroom was covered with some one elses hairs_ UGH!
We realised later that night that we had gained 2 hours and not realised.Every other shop here is a barber; patisserie, shoe shop or cafe. The men congregate in the cafes. Where do the women go.The roundabouts have chevrons that flash with the direction you must go around.

Friday 11 may and on to Azrou through the Riff mountains and it was a great ride.The scenery is spectacular but it is also like going back to Biblical times.people of all ages are riding side saddle on donkeys or the donkeys are pulling a cart.People sit on a piece of cardboard in every little bit of shade available even if it is a telegraph pole or a signpost. Kiff is being offered as you pass .

Customs checks abound but we are waved through each time.The flowers are a riot of colour with bourgonvillia and prickly pear that is in bloom.You can be in the middle of no where and you see some one walking___ where too I ask myself.The locals must walk miles.
We had a better hotel that night but the hotel was deserted of people and was like the Marie Celeste.Every thing you had to eat or drink you had to pay for it at the time.The storks were nesting with their young on top of the chimneys and chattered with their beaks. A lovely sound.

Sat 12 may and on to see the Casades near Azilal.This again was through the mountains .Lush green with alot of cereals being grown and Juniper trees .We reached the high plateau and were glad to bowl along at 70 mph as the temperature was 35 degrees. There are alot of water stand pipes around and you are free to use them to wet your head.Usuallly srrounded by tiles.

In one garage the squat loo was swilled out with water before I was able to use it.In full motor cycle kit and holding on to your helmet; it was quite a fear of endurance!We are now back to dousing our head under water and putting on the helmets with wet hair.

The hotel at the Cascades was a really lovely .Adapted from an old farm house and made from adobe which is coloured a bright red.Relaxing sitting areas with seating all the way around the room and low coffee tables. All the rooms are built around the central courtyard which had an orange tree growing.The cascades are a sight to see and are a big tourist attraction.654 steps down .

Colin had a job to park the bike here as it was parked in an enclosed garden and up 3 steps.I was having kittens but no problems at all going up_ or coming down.

The villages are one long street with shops on the road side.Petrol is 69p per litre and a small beer is 1.25 GBP for 25 cls _ expensive.Taxis are yellow with 4 in the back and 3 in the front!Peugot 103s abound and will carry 4 people with ease!

Next on to Marakesh. More to follow. Total miles 2401

Posted by Dee Masters at 04:36 PM GMT
photos

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Tatuine
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Just to make sure you stop at police checks!

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Unexpected lakes in the Atlas

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Herman in his garden

Posted by Dee Masters at 08:11 PM GMT
May 21, 2007 GMT
Morocco2

Sun 13 and we were off to Marakesh after having had our boots cleaned for 50p,through the Atlas mountains and what a spectacular ride on deserted roads with tiny villages.They say that traversing the Atlas is one of the motor cycle 'musts ' and we tend to agree with that!
Again we were offered kif and there are pottery places every where trying to sell their wares or crystals of bright red or green. A lorry had lost 2 wheels off the axle near to the top- just avoided going over the edge !
If it's market daya you see pick up trucks with 2 horse, some sheep, goats and people piled into the back .Peugot 103's qbound with 4 being the maximum we have seen on one- so far!
There are water taps by the side of the road that are well able to be seen as they are usually surrounded by tiles. We take advantage of these to douse our heads with water.
Bourgonvillia abounds , flowers are a riot of colour and the prickly pear is in bloom.It is like going back a few centuries in time with the abobe houses, people harvesting by scythe and all using a donkey or horse as the main transport.

They sit in any bit of shade available which could be a telegraph pole or a sign post.

25 degrees when we left and again, alot of police checks. Before we left a cat ran across the road right in front of us ( and used one of it's 9 lives), a child deliberately jumped out in front of the bike and a taxi cut us up from the inside !---- All in a space of 5 miles!

The thermal kit is stowed of course and we are now wearing the camel paks for fluids on the go.

Alot of the ladies here have decorations on their hands with henna. The Morrocons love to laugh and share a joke. They are very friendly even if they do not understand my French !A good hotel is 780 drms per night ( £50 per night ) including breakfast. Meals are £7.74 each and that's for 3 courses. We bought a large packet of crisps, cheese, biscuits and toothpaste for £1.16 !

We arrived in the red walled city of Marakesh and could hardly believe that we were here. Such a romantic sounding place and traffic was'nt as bad as we thought. We took a taxi to the Jemma el Ftn square at dusk and it was great. Stalls selling every thing you can imagine, snake charmers, story tellers musicians playing,water sellers wearing traditional dress, magicians. All of theses surrounded by a huge mass of people watching-- talk about atmosphere.It gets dark about 7.30pm . Cats are every where and are tolerated even in the restaurants. Stray dogs live on the outskirts of town and are thin.

Next day we had a day off with the view of getting a new back tyre. The guy from the hotel was very helpful and took us to the garage to try to arrange this. This was at 10 am. Told to go back at 1pm. Then told to phone at 4pm-- when we were told that the tyre could be got from Casablanca - that he wanted the whole of the money up front and that with fitting it was goling to cost £295 !!!!!!------- Colin politely told him that was far too much money and demanded the deposit back ( which we grudgingly got ).

So that was virtually a day wasted but we did manage to see the souk etc.The best bit of the day for me was realising at the last minute that I could go with Colin ( thought the guy from the hotel was going to ride pillion ). I hopped on the bike wearing jeans, shirt, hat and FLIPFLOPS !!!!!!! What a great ride, definitely some thing you could'nt do in UK! The bike is parked outside the hotel which has a guard 24 hours a day and costs the massive sum of £1. 29 as the tip to the guy.

The currency here is MAD's - ie Dirhams and there are 15.5 to £.

That evening we went to a traditional Morroccan evening that included a meal of 7 courses ( one was the inevitable cous cous) and then we had a display of horse riding which was amazing. Jumping over the saddle when the horse was at full gallop, doing hand stands and picking up a hat at full gallop.What agility and fine horse manship.

Tued 15 and on to Ouzazarate still through the Atlas with the famous red soil. The girls are singing as we pass walking with fully laden donkeys. The children will wave madly and stand by the bike, very shy and hold out their hand for a bon- bon. They are in tatters of clothes and you wonder what the conditions are that they live in.There are areas here that remind you of Turkey and Iran.

On the other side of the mountain it was totally different terain and near to the Sahara we had 10 huge drops of rain !It is more sandy and stark and hot at 35 degrees whilst travelling.

The hotel here had a very nice area outside by the pool that was arranged like the Bedouin tents- very pretty and comfortable.

Wed and out to see the Atlas film studios which had film sets for many Egyptian films. The guide assured us that Hollywood films' are all an illusion'. One set took 1 year to build. The builders get 500 drms per day(£32) and the extras 150 drms (£9.67)

Thur 17 through to Tinhir at 85 degrees at 9 am. Desert scrub with areas of green oasis. We drove up through the Dades valley and went off to see the Todra gorge which is 900 feet deep. There are loads of touts about and are a pain in the neck.

Friday 18 and on to Midelt through the mid Atlas to greener areas and trees.
Sat 19 and on to Fez that turned out to be 100 degrees ! We eventually found the Ibis hotel and they were full. Our error as we should have booked ahead. Unusually for the Ibis the staff were less than helpful and we were having a deja vu of what happened in Delhi ( heat exhaustion )--- and we got out as fast as we could.So it turned out to be a long day of driving 288 miles and boy , did we know we had done it as it was all mountain riding!

We stopped at a road side cafe for a drink and there were 20 young men sat in a circle watching the TV, I asked for the loo which had no door, the Western toilet was positioned just off centre in a large room, just out of sight of the cafe! No seat, of course.
We arrived atChefehouan which had a lovely Medina and souk and it was really nice to be in the cool of the mountains.

Sun20 and onj to the ferry from Sebta to Algerciras for £57 and then back to Gibralter where we are for a few days , trying to get a tyre! This is turning out to be difficult and we are now waiting for a phone call from Spain to see if they can locate one. It's definitely thrown the budget out of the window as the hotel id £79 per night- but I can think of wordse places of being stuck ! Weather is cool and last night we had rain but Gib is lovely.
Total miles 3134


Posted by Dee Masters at 04:58 PM GMT
May 22, 2007 GMT
photos

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High Atlas Pass

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High Atlas Pass

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Sahara storm

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The Stoney desert

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Not wher you think !

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Hotel at Ouazazarate

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Local transport

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shop in mountains

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Desert town

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Beduin tent

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Over loaded or what ?!

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Camels!

Posted by Dee Masters at 11:01 AM GMT
 


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