Planning has been kept to a minimum as being retired with no ties i can take as little or long as i want.
Basically I leave Portsmouth for Santander in Spain on sept 1st. Having toured all over Europe, except Spain, I intend to tour spain until 18th sept then at last a ferry from algerciras to cueta on the moroccan mainland. From there touring moroc to rabat to get to mauri and mali visas. The next step will involve daily planning until mali-bukini faso and then on to ghana /togo. Flexibility is the key word.
Don't get me wrong, I always do a great deal of planning and research before leaving home - it pays dividends when on the road. Travelling is for enjoyment not spending hours in an internet cafe trying to find details about the next country.
By the way i know a little bit about africa as i lived and worked in Southern africa in my early 20s but i feel west africa in 2009 is going to be different, to say the least
I am travelling without a carnet and getting visas along the way. Will it prove troublesome? Time will tell. Especially as i dont speak french ..... watch this space
Hopefully it will be interesting and entertaining.
At last i am on my way the journey to portsmouth proved uneventful baring a last english cloud burst to see me on my way.I arrived at portsmouth 2 hours early a shame really as jackie furnue had arranged a few HU members to see me off which i missed being early.
The ferry went as any ferry journeys do boring.
I did have the pleasure to talk to a couple on the heading back to their home in the Algave(I think) having enjured two months of rain on and off. A most delightful couple
The ext morning one old lady complained to me about a lack of that days papers on the boat she felt sure it would not be to much trouble to drop a bundle of papers from a helicopter i did not comment
As the boat docked 2 hours late i decided to give that days proposed destination Potes in the Picos mountains a miss and head for a campsite about 4 miles from the docks to get there just keep following the promanade round the bay you will eventually come to Cabo Mayor campsite on the headland. By the way i found the next day to be a nice 4 mile sroll down to Santander worth a visit catch a bus back.
Opposite the campsite, steps go down to beautiful secluded bay. Although there did seem to be a majority of single men going to the beach i felt they must be free masons.
Oh one promise readers this is the last time i will thank my friends back home for their care and help the last 3 years- Neesha and Tarun my son and daughter AL and Liz Kingston and Ray my dear friends from derbyshire Tim and Paul from Morpheus motorcycles, JAckie Furneux and Rich neil,chrisstie and the lads and lassies from ethicall fund raisers were all real gems and kept me laughing through ill health.Oh and my ex wife wished me luck on my journey good god what next.
Until level with Madrid the weather was perfect after that afternoons are very hot 38 degress ridings no problem its when you stop. Still im learning all the time before pitching camp get out of motorbike gear and just wear shorts and flip flops sorted
Now of to Portugel the Algave until now i have just used A roads and CL roads there great and empty and you see rural spain Fire blade owners eat your heart out. Sat in a village bar sunday afternoon and watched Rossi beat the beat the spaniard danny pedrosa i was the only one cheering dont know why.The headline in the sports section of a national newspaper the next day was Rossi Fabula aint he just i was weened on Hailwood and Ago but this man well what can i say
GRIPE OF THE WEEK
As my sat nav would be no good after spain i decided to ditch it in the uk and use my tried and tested navigation using old fashion map reading as i like to wear vario focals under my goggles quick checks of the map and crib card is no trouble ah you say what happens when you break your glasses well you get out your spare pair thats if you dont drop them as you get them out your tank bag and then stand on them as you step back to pick them up, great its going to be slow navigation using just my reading glasses every time i stop . Oh you say why dont you look at the map and memorize the next couple of major junctions Er i am 65 you know .
It not hard to find superb roads in rural spain empty of traffic and in great condition they do not have to be major roads one such road the EX 101 going onto the N435 from Zafra is 120 kms of exceddingly fast sweeping bends over the mountains and no suprises, biking at its very best Ive been all over europe and this has got to be the best ever
i am in Portugel, now prices half that of Spain, my next blog will be from Morocco and hopefully the fun will start
i did say in my original bog how great the country and scenery of marocco were do not believe the crap they say about getting into maro or the hassle i can only asssume they have never been here the german and french bikers come here in droves what about seeing a few more brits. Even the police are nice and its pretty cheap
As i have just deleted by mistake the whole of the Marocco mauritania Mali blog i will give you a quick precee and do the full monti tommow Maroc was a dream chefchaouen; rabat, azrou, tinihir Gorges of todra and dades tried to do the circular route including middle piste first i had a puncture then got caught in horrendous rain in middle piste bit ending the worst biking and worrying day of my life
lesson learnt here
By the way thanks to Liz Ross of Trailblazzers for your translating skills
on to quarzazate great biking all the way to here
then on to tiznet over the anti atlas here i met a super brit couple who live in france with a VW camper van they where great lovely wine, fruit salads g and ts beer i will always remember them by the way after you left i found i could buy a bottle of plonk at the hotel opp for 4 euros , i hope you got back to france okmore tomorrow
once you leave Tiznet (a nice small town) the sahara really comes into your life the scenery gets starker dessert one side of the road and the atlantic ocean via massive cliffs the other side. By the way looking left there is one other tarmac road running between me and the nile and too the right the atlantic to the americas
Most of the time the mid day heat is about 40 degreess great while your riding awful when you stop
Distances between comunities and petrol station start to spread out, by the way you see fisherman with rods casting straight down into the atlantic must be a couple of hundered feet
it was a hot and tiring 267 miles to the next big town Tan Tan, imagine going london to manchester with 3 filling stations and 2 very small towns to put things into perpective
Its about now you start to realise how long going down the sahara is OH by the way i dropped my laptop on the marble floor of my hotel room in rabat hence internet cafees now
Do not try and understand the rules of the road in Maroc, Mauri or Mali the locals dont understand them either except in Mali give way to the biggest so a 600 honda beats a moped one of thousands. Cyclists should be given a wide berth but you can see them picking themselves up in your mirrows
I stayed on a empty camping site by the beach in TanTan Plage because there was no lights about at nght you could see the lights of Fuertuventure across the sea
From Tan Tan down to the penninsula of Dakla theres just desert both sides of the road 470 miles and aboou 4 filling stations i sang its a long way to Tipperary for hours to relieve the boredom some youngsters have ipods in stead
You really get a sense of the sahara on this strech By the way ptrol was tax free from Layonne down due to it being UN mandated territory at the moment
Meeting Ben Ware
In Dahkla i met up with Ben for the future bit of the trip he proved to be a gem of a guy we headed south for Mauratania border sand sand and more sand At the exit border of marocc we had been warned it was a slow process it was worse than that, after 4 hours waing to be stamped out a official noticed my age and pulled me to the front of the queque but he wouldnt do the same for ben
Always look old at borders certain countries have respect for the eldery take note siblings and youngters at Ethicall
Then the no mans land bit piste between two minefields ok really nothing difficult except sand and rock to ride on Muari border no problem on to Nouadibbou and the sahara campsite.
The Sahara Campsite Nouadibou
This used to be the meeting point for the 300 mile beach run before the tarmac road to Nouakachott was built 2 years ago now sadly its empty and run down Except for the 3 ladies that occupy the previos renting rooms one of the ladies invited ben and me to see her room It had a toilet with no door in the middle of telling us what she could offer; the word began with f she lifted up her skirt and promptly had a pee in full view of us showing off the goods on offer We promptly made our excusses and left. The next day we did the boring 300 mile run to Nouakchott no villages or building just 3 filling stations it wass44 degress in the shade
sorry for delay on blog update as my mother used to say when i travelled in my twenties I know when your having good time as you only write when you are bored A worried night was spent prior to heading for Rosso an irish guy sorry terriable on names was to very kindly travel to the rosso crossroads to try and take the attention of me at roadblock thanks mate your a true traveller, it partley worked they didnt ask for parrsavent but did me 20 euros for missing mirror You corrupt gits eventually at the rosso crossroads this great guy headed back for zebrabar hope cops didnt steal from him on way back
The plan was for me to meet up with fixer at border to help me thru (Bribe) the prob was i got the wrong fixer my mistakeHe dissapeared with my papers passport etc to sort it out telling me to stay hidden in this back alley till he came back Yes what a pratt i was should have rang his number when a guy said he was Ifrane.
standing there waiting in the back alley my phone rings Its Ifrane here were are you (the penny drops) Im here where you told me to wait Ifrane but ive not met you yet my heart sinks im here hidden in a back alley on my own and some stranger has all my papers* shit felt like a donkey he haw.
Just as i feel i may just have a blood pressure problem again.
The fake IFRANE APPEARS WITH PAPERS thank god i snatch them back not waiting to argue i head in a direction i think will take me back into main street.
Back on main street straight into rosso border guard arms so to speak .Papers please in frog language, i look up i can see the ferry 50 yards in front of me Thats mauratanian sovereignty a little more pardon from me
i look down at the bike *Henrietta lets go for the ferry NOW he wont fire at me Will he!, start engine clutch out wiz onto ferry im through yippee Then in the background a well spoken mauratanian says what have you been doing Im the real Ifrane your safe now Thought of giving him a kiss but better not this is muslim country
The rest history Ifrane sorted mauratanian papers im on the road to Nouokchott yes singing Mr Blue Skies what a day!
arrived elated in Nouochott im heading home , well only another 3 thousand miles
Next prob as you know had my visa card stolen Master card dont work in Mauri thanks Al and neeshas help in sending out money via Western union instant on line transfer except neesha didnt give me ref number thats sorted now Oh stayed at sahara auberge wife of owner made me cup of tea to calm my nerves thanks luv
Down to nouabibou and morroc Border went thru minor sand storm cleaned right side of bike beautifully spokes and all
Picked up flees at hotel in nouabibou and so to border , on the way down i worried about going through piste and minefield
Im first through gate into 3 k of piste no sweat this time easy peassy
God what a clever little sod im getting Night at Dahkla, Layonne, Tizi ifnet and so to 5 week R&R at Sidi Ifni met lovely couple kev &alison ,Derek& Joy and most marvellous old french guy had three african wifes, great place by the sea Fish cheap and out of this world , im now below Anti Atlas on northern edge of sahara heading for leaving Marroc end of Jan
What am i doing next winter maybe travel for a change Well im getting to old to sit still
As that american ceaser McCarthy said as he left his troops to perish in the philliphines ill be back with me it will be africa.
Next blog in a month will be final chapter
Have i enjoyed the trip YOU BET I HAVE nowt like travelling on a moto warts and all The bike superb well it is a honda not a KTM,BMW or whatever and its mature 11 years old 54 k on clock.
Any problems that bloody fork seal is still leaking Tim be ready for my return Tyres still on originals as are brake pads
Will put pics on in uk Will you help me Rich, slide presentation need yor help neil
Oh and the sun is shining
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