Pats highlight to date was Alhambra, an extravagant, Moorish castle overlooking Granada, which would rival any dwelling Queen Elizabeth would have, but was started well before Christ by the Muzlims from Morocco. We have never seen such granduer and it is yet to be fully restored. For anyone travelling Europe, this is a must which rates up there with Ankor Watt in Cambodia.
Belindas highlight was a beachfront hotel in La Marina, south coast of Spain, with beachviews from the bath. She kept singing a song about being in heaven!!!
You can smell Spain as you drive by the aroma of olives and fermenting wine. Wine and alcohol in general is so cheap compared to Australian prices, but that is where the cheapness ends!! We like the fact that all countries in Europe have the same currency and no official border crossings. Central and South America was a hassle for both these reasons.
So far the toll roads are too expensive and the pace too fast. We would rather ride along the slow, free roads with all of the character, drifting through the villages and stopping for tapas or menu del dia at quaint outdoor restaurants.
On the south coast of Spain we stayed the night in a whitewashed village called Los Negros. It was along a very rugged coast with its own sandy beach sheltered between high rock outcroppings. The sunset turned the sky to an orangy- purple colour which reflected onto the white and very Spanish haciendas and beach.
On the drive to Granada we drove through the mountainside whitewashed villages of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. We stayed overnight in an elevated village known for its medicinal hotsprings. It seemed the average person on the street was overweight and over 65 years old. Water fountains continuously pour out from the mountainsides to give us as much free pure water as we can carry. Windy roads carry us slowly up 2000m where we have to don our winter clothes to keep warm near the top. Temperatures dropped from 30 deg on the coast to 15 deg in the mountains, but the roads are clear and dry and the riding was free and easy.
After Granada we drove inland towards Cordoba. We thought we had seen some lovely cobblestone streets full of character, but this was something else. We strolled the streets till 11pm ( nothing to do with the fact we got a wee bit lost!!) It was very hot- we didnt realize how hot until we saw the temperature was 36° at 9pm!!
Slightly closer to the coast and a bit higher and about 10° cooler we found the city of Ronda. This city was built centuries ago on the top of a cliff and is split in 2 by a river gorge. A stone bridge of considerable magnitude was constructed in the 1700's spanning the gorge to expand the city and extend travel to the opposite side. At sunset we watched the falcons swoop and dive in the updrafts as though they were jet fighters. Flamingo dance classes were conducted in the amber light of sunset on a stage platform overlooking the valley floor. Two hundred dancers moved in harmony to the guitarist and spanish singer ( the Spanish really have style!)
Having heard about the rock of Gibraltor for so long, we had to visit. It astounded us for its military history; it has been an English fort since the 1700's. The rock has 33 miles of tunnels honeycombing inside; with ports for cannons to fire at enemy ships as they approach. Only the rock is English with Spain surrounding it, but never able to conquer it.
We rode the Super Tenere up the rock up its narrow road spiraling nearly to the top where you can see both Europe and Africa from the same spot as well as the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. With all the rock and dirt that was taken from the tunnels they made the airport running across the ithsmus so that you drive across the middle of the runway to reach the Rock from Spain. Gibraltor is a tax free zone, so we were surprised to see no bargains available except fuel and cigarettes. The accomodation is double that found in Spain, only 1km away!
We took the 35 minute ferry across to Morocco the next morning to find a huge queue 2 km long to get through customs. One of our favourite customs in Spain is that all motorcyclists can move to the front of any line any way they can to take the front position, even at traffic lights. So we hit the front in a matter of minutes and we were through shortly afterwards. We were surprised to find that we need not check out of Europe before entering Morocco, which may prove invaluable when we store the bike in Europe and only have a 6 month permit for the Super Tenere. We will see when we have to go back in!
Stay tuned for Moroccan adventures during the month of June.Posted by Patrick Peck at June 08, 2004 03:07 PM GMT
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