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Photo by Josephine Flohr, Elephant at Camp, Namibia

I haven't been everywhere...
but it's on my list!


Photo by Josephine Flohr,
Elephant at Camp, Namibia



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  #556  
Old 20 May 2015
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Lining up the boats so they all fit nice and tight


Sorry Mr. Seagull. No food for you!

Since we are still on the coast, we had another seafood meal. There's a spot right in the docks where you can order fresh shellfish that's just come in. Unfortunately, there are no prices, as the locals see this as another opportunity to gouge tourists. We were getting a bit hungry, but I hung around and watched as other people haggled to get an idea of the prices. When we approached the table, I asked the waiter how much, he replied, "1000 dirham" ($100). We started to walk away and he smiled broadly, "Just kidding, it is 200 dirham". I negotiated more shellfish, some expensive octopus and eel and that seemed fair for the both of us. So we sat down.

While waiting for the food, more people streamed in. I listened to the haggling and was dismayed when I heard some locals haggle down to almost half of what we paid! We're so bad at bargaining... When our food arrived, we enjoyed it much less than if we had paid half price for it...




Our riad was inside the medina, so we spent some time walking around


After visiting all the other Moroccan cities, the medina here was typical, not as big as Fes or Marrakesh
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  #557  
Old 20 May 2015
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From Essaouira, it was basically a highway ride, back into the interior of the country, taking the central road to the north. Having read up beforehand, we skipped Casablanca and stayed in smaller towns.


Outside of Rabat, we saw some spring flowers blooming by the side of the road. What is Neda doing?!?!


Answer: Instagramming


Last stop before Tangier

In all our research, everyone recommends to skip Tangier. Nobody ever has a nice experience in that city. We skipped it when we arrived, but now we're headed there because our fellow traveller, Trevor is arriving to Morocco and that's where he's staying.

How bad can it be? We are about to find out..


Trying to find parking, we have to make room for a funeral marching through the narrow medina streets

When we got inside the Tangier city limits, some boys tried to steal Neda's dry bags from behind her bike while stopped at a traffic light. They ran away when I motioned to get off the bike. *SMH* We arrived at the riad that Trevor was staying at. He was in the middle of an argument with a parking lot attendant that fleeced him out of some money.

Although we had experienced lots of hustlers in Morocco, they had always stayed within the boundaries of the law. Tangier in comparison was lawless and disrespectful to tourists. The minute I arrived in the city, all I could hear in my head were the words of a famous old man, "You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy".

I felt bad for Trevor. He was just starting his journey into Morocco and this was his first impression. At least we had done our research and had a much better experience in Chefchaouen.

Trevor welcomed us into the riad with some liquor. After a month of dry country, we guzzled the schnapps he had smuggled in with relish. That almost made it worthwhile coming into Tangier for. Bless his heart!
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  #558  
Old 20 May 2015
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Catching up over dinner and drinks

We've run into Trevor over and over again, first at the HU meet in California then on the Stahlratte between Panama and Colombia. He stayed with us in Croatia and he returned the favour opening up his villa in France to us.

It's amazing how small the world is!

We spent the evening comparing routes, hints and tips, and also the all-important hard-drive exchange. Every long-term traveler keeps an external drive full of music, TV shows and movies which we all share when we meet up. It's a well-established ritual.


I know food trucks are popular in North America, but have Escargot Trucks caught on yet?

The snails on top of the truck have creepy glowing eyes and there are big, silver bowls in the middle for everyone to spit out the shells. I thought this was hilarious!


Next morning, Trevor heads out to explore Morocco


We were on our way further west back to the Tangier Med port

If we hadn't had to meet Trevor, we would have totally bypassed Tangier and went straight to the port for our departure date. Everything we had read about Tangier was true. The fact that it's a popular port for cruise ships to dock at means that it attracts every low-life looking to make an easy buck by stealing from the cash-laden tourists that never stay long enough to fill out a police report.

It was such a dirty place, totally unrepresentative of the country. It really reminded me of the first city we stayed at in Mexico: Ensenada, also a port town for cruise ships. We were wisely told to get the hell out of there and experience the real country. Tangier was exactly the same.

While we were packing to leave, one guy who was trying to sell me a bag of weed (which looked suspiciously like oregano) asked me indignantly when I turned him away, "Why do you tourists even come to Morocco?!"

The question really should have been, "Why do tourists even bother coming to Tangier?"

Despite this final city leaving us with such a bad taste in our mouths, and despite the hustlers in all the medinas constantly pestering us (they were only trying to make a living), we will remember Morocco fondly.


The last hustler in Morocco


Out of Africa

We are exhausted. We've been constantly on the move since the Pula girls picked us up in Spain for Christmas. We're long overdue for a long break from our travels, so we're just going to hunker down for awhile and continue our journey as the weather starts to warm up in Europe.

See you in awhile.
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  #559  
Old 21 May 2015
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Enjoy the rest Gene & Neda & thanks again for sharing your travels & great photography
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  #560  
Old 24 May 2015
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I look forward to more stories some time to lighten up the nights at work.
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  #561  
Old 25 May 2015
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Its a well deserved break. Ive really enjoyed following your travels. Thanks for letting us come along.
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  #562  
Old 26 May 2015
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If you're looking for some down time, go and stay at La Calera in Teba.
Trust me, it's amazing for relaxation. Not at all on the gringo trail and it's beautiful there, especially at this time of year.
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  #563  
Old 27 May 2015
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Hey Folks,
I'm having a great time reading through your journey, up to page 12 so far and loving it. We're going to our first HUBB meet at Boonah near Brisbane, Australia in September; really excited to be meeting up with a great bunch of like-minded travellers. Thanks for the inspiration and stories, keep it coming.
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  #564  
Old 4 Jun 2015
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Hi everyone, we're back in Toronto for a short visit and we've been invited to give a presentation of our journey so far! If you're free and in town, please join us:

Thursday June 18th, 2015 6:30PM
Endras BMW
100 Achilles Road, Ajax, Ontario

We'll be talking about our trip and showing some of our pictures and videos. We'd love to meet you!
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  #565  
Old 5 Jun 2015
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Smile HU Ontario 2015 event is happening - please come!

Hi Gene and Neda,

Just an update to let you know that the HU Ontario 2015 meeting is happening June 18-21 on Lake Couchiching near Orillia, and a personal request to you to please come and present at the meeting!


We understand that you're committed for Thursday, but we've got slots available from Friday through Sunday!

We'd like to be able to put your name and face up on the page as a presenter, so please let us know as soon as you can if you can make it! Start here to register:
www.horizonsunlimited.com/events/presenter

Hope to see you there!

Grant & Susan
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  #566  
Old 8 Jun 2015
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Updated from http://www.RideDOT.com/rtw/221.html



It's been two weeks now and I'm worried about Neda. She has been motionless on the couch for all this time, Kindle in hand, and if weren't for the regular tapping of the "forward" button, I'd have to check for vital signs. We are holed up back in the same apartment that we stayed in over Christmas in Calella, just outside of Barcelona. There has been no movement, either by bike or by foot. The last few months of travel have knocked the winds from our sails and we are suffering from travel fatigue big-time.

Two weeks ago, the ferry spilled us onto the sunny port of Barcelona and we rode out into the glorious arms of Europe, and more importantly into the land of Español, where Neda could freely communicate again. I was more than happy to relinquish the reins. The plan was that we would stay somewhere familiar and recuperate, and then as the spring slowly thawed the north, we'd venture out and see if the snow had melted.

At least that *was* the plan. Normally Neda only needs a few days of rest before she gets ants in her pants and is raring to go. But it's been two weeks now and she's only left the apartment a couple of times only to shop for groceries. *THAT* was very unusual. Honestly, I didn't feel like pulling up the stakes either, but we had a team meeting and debated the pros and cons of staying or going. Even though we're still not feeling 100%, there seems to be this frustrating pointlessness to just sitting around and waiting for... what? The weather reports seem to be encouraging. How long will it take for us to feel ready to continue on? We have to acknowledge that our journey is now heavily influenced by four seasons instead of one.

Perhaps we needed to force ourselves out of this lethargy. Otherwise we'd be stuck in Spain in this comfortable little apartment watching the summer slip away.


Skirting east of the Pyrenees mountains, which would most certainly be snow-covered this time of year

It's a slow chore to pack our bikes and we wistfully waved goodbye to Calella in our mirrors for the second time. The warm, sunny microclimate of the Barcelona region had given us a false sense of weather in Europe as the grey clouds of south-west France greeted us at the border. I am acutely aware that I am now back on language duty again. Not much of a break... and Neda won't be happy that she is incommunicado yet again.

We are both second-guessing the decision to leave Spain.


Perhaps the still-stark-naked vineyards of Southern France are trying to tell us something...


And so castles in the rain...


We didn't get to see Carcassonne last year because of the weather. So we headed up there. And it rained...
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  #567  
Old 8 Jun 2015
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The citadel of Carcassonne is a huge medieval fortress set on a hill above the vineyards of south-western France. The architectural plans look like they were lifted straight out of a Disney fairytale movie, although in reality it was probably the other way round. With the dark clouds roiling in the background, you really felt like there could be a magic mirror on the wall that could tell you who was the fairest of them all.

We'd settle for just an accurate weather report...


Cacassonne is France's second-most visited tourist attraction behind the Eiffel Tower


The inside is filled with souvenir shops and pricey restaurants

There is a traditional dish in southern France called cassoulet, which is a casserole with pork and white beans. Almost every restaurant inside the citadel served it. We window-shopped the food, but were reminded just how expensive everything is in Europe, so we held our appetites in check until we hit the grocery store on the way back to our AirBnB.

This is something that's going to take some getting used to again after our relatively cheaper sojourn in Morocco.


The fairest of them all

Another major difference that we've noticed in the south of France (which we do make a note of everytime we ride here) is that most drivers are very laid back. Such a contrast to the chaos in Morocco or the aggressiveness of Italian drivers. Most people drive under the speed limit and seem to be in no rush at all. It's actually nice riding down here.

I wonder if maybe there are very stiff speeding fines here. We still remain invisible to photo radar because of our Ontario plates, but really, we're in no rush either and the roads are still slick with freezing rain.


This gargoyle is straining to listen to our incessant whining

Did you know that gargoyles originally were used to divert rainwater away from the building? Spouts were routed through the throat and out the mouths of these creatures. The French word gargouille is derived from the Latin for "throat" or "gullet", and it also sounds like "gargle". If there is no spout in a gargoyle and it is purely ornamental, then the correct architectural term is a chimera, not a gargoyle.
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  #568  
Old 8 Jun 2015
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Chimera

I think our favorite part of Carcassonne are the chimera on the Basilica de St-Nazaire, inside the citadels walls. As usual, I take my usual pictures of votive candles inside the church.


Basilica de St-Nazaire


Stained Glass Goodness


Rose Window


And then I was all like Pew Pew Pew Pew Pew
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  #569  
Old 8 Jun 2015
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One of the more handsome chimeras standing guard outside


A purple haze in the air obscures the sunlight




happiness staggering on down the street, footprints dress in red


Mostly it's French tourists pay a visit to the castle during the weekdays


All along the watchtower, princesses kept the view...

These are our first steps back out into Europe and we're wondering if we've jumped the gun both on the weather and our willingness to continue our travels.
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  #570  
Old 11 Jun 2015
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lightcycle View Post
...
Another major difference that we've noticed in the south of France (which we do make a note of everytime we ride here) is that most drivers are very laid back. Such a contrast to the chaos in Morocco or the aggressiveness of Italian drivers. Most people drive under the speed limit and seem to be in no rush at all. It's actually nice riding down here...
I fully agree. I'm italian and live in Italy, nevertheless riding here is often stressful also for me.
At the end of this month (on 20th) me and my wife are going to Sarlat-la-Caneda to visit Perigord (Dordogne) and I'm sure it will be a relaxing week on the road.
We hope to meet you there, one never knows.
Andrea and Paola.
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