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Thread: MA For Morocco: Apr to May 2012.

  1. #65
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    Day 13 04/05/2012: Chefchaouen Blues.

    There was definitely coffee at breakfast this morning after a few extra drinks with Ian in the bar last night. That bar, a short walk around the corner from the hotel, was exceptionally lively and it showed that the Moroccan men know how to have a good time in the company of alcohol albeit mostly without women. MrIFan and I were the only pale skins in the place and it was very loud with both music and the shouting conversations to keep us company when sipping our Pastisse. There was a couple of dusky looking females there hanging around a doorway to somewhere looking like the Monsieurs Toilette and they seemed to be very busy with whatever was occupying them. However entertaining this place was it was a rare call from me to call it a night because I was done-in after the last few weeks away and today was our last full day in Morocco and I thought it would be better to be in a usable condition to complete a road day's riding and make it back to Chefchaouen in one piece.
    It was a challenging day from the start when having an early start and two chaps wanting access to the ablutions with only a tatty shower curtain defending each other from the sight and sound of you know what before your shave and shower. It's difficult to determine on which side of that curtain one's embarrassment is greatest although I should offer apologies to my room mate for that morning.

    So it was back to the bikes for an 08:00hrs start after another forgetful forced breakfast, even if the coffee is usually good, and onto the roads for a spot of tourism, another trailer assembly exercise, and then onto our penultimate destination in Morocco and the same hotel we used upon our arrival here.

    With not a lot to report or do on a road ride in reverse from Azrou we stopped for an early tea & coffee break on the way to a tourism break at Volubilis.


    The woman on the right is cooking large doughy pancakes on a hot plate whilst trying to ignore our near perfect parking...

    I reckon we are in El Hajeb or Boufakrane because there was something to be seen around this town of one road. There are a few places to choose from to eat & drink, there's shops to buy a thing or two and establishments to repair, build or make something for you. They also tolerate future mousers but life is tenuous around here when faced with a size nine Adventure boot...


    This little thing nearly went unobserved. Little did it know that it had put itself in a very dangerous position beside a table of heavy men in heavy boots: I dread to think what would have happened if Gary hadn't guided us to one side. I wonder whose boot that is...

    It only takes another hour to ride to Volubilis, even if we have the challenge of the busy city Meknes to deal with: It's not like London or Paris but nevertheless we have not been to many places with this much traffic recently and waiting at the lights is something we're going to have to learn to put up with again when this trip is over.
    Volubilis is very popular. There are coach parties, police & Army (at least they look like the Army) and parking attendants ensuring they get their cut to look after your bike while you go and have a look around. There's a short walk to get to the ruins, and avoid the adhoc guides, but it's worth the effort in a Klim riding suit to see what the Romans were doing elsewhere across their empire. Even though the Roman remains in the UK are, or were, built using similar principles to these here, it looks so different in this light and landscape and if you were wealthy and successful, or under the wing of someone who was, life wouldn't have been so bad if you were clever enough to avoid the sword of your master.

    If you were an artisan tiler you are in with a chance of having patronage and a long life laying these down for those who could afford it...






    That lot has survived the plundering of this site over the years and rightly so in respect to those who laid them so carefully, one at a time. after decorating and glazing.

    Even though vulgar English probably hadn't got this far when this place was thriving it was soon introduced here by one of us...


    Awesome. Guess who?


    He's almost out of control now and claiming dispensation continually for being in charge of us.

    So what of the masons? There would have been hundreds of them working on a job like this backed up with even more labourers shifting the stones around...






    I wonder where it's all gone? We conclude that the materials were used by the many subsequent conolianists who had there time here over the centuries gone by.

    This looks a bit like a millstone but is more likely to be a keystone for a long lost column...



    ...and this could be a washing bowl or fish oil serving dish in a High Street takeaway...



    If you were clever enough, and more importantly blessed by your masters, you could even get to work on something like this and be a real big cheese without having to do battle across the empire for years on end to secure a place in high society and dodge an early and violent demise.


    It's easy to imagine Brian being chased by the Roman soldiers along this avenue for being a naughty boy.



    It's very impressive architecture for a civilisation using simple levers and gearing...






    And there's even some more wildlife to be seen...


    A Stork(?)


    A lizard (definitely)...


    ...and some Reservoir Dregs.

    No matter how advanced the Roman civilisation was for its time, or what they have done for us , it has had no effect whatsoever on the vulgar Englishman's appreciation of culture...


    Yes. It's that man again!

    Regretfully we went though the Roman ruins at Volubilis fairly quickly and it would have been nice to have learnt a bit more about the place but we didn't have the time because it is always better to make it to the hotel than risk a long day on something we were not strictly here for. Nevertheless I would have liked to have known what the guides had to say and more importantly, what they had learnt and where. I'll look all of this up myself and next time I will see if a man in a woollen dress has anything else to add to what I can find out to be true: If you can't tell, I'm a tad sceptical about these geezers but hopefully I'm wrong and they are authoritative guides for their tours.

    Pressing on we're heading for one of my top three lunches of the trip. It's roads and only roads and even though we not taking on any trails today it's a good ride. Occasionally there's the feeling that we've been here before but travelling on a road which may have only been seen once before, and from another direction, not much is recognisable except for a couple of bridges over almost dry, broad and rocky river beds which I think “I could ride that now with no problems.”.

    Soon we stop for fuel at an almost European styled service station and decide to have lunch while there. Skygod arranged our meal and we were all delighted to be presented with a bowls of chunky BBQ lamb with red onions and bread. This simple combination worked so well and everyone was so satisfied that nothing was left except for a few lonely olives on their own. You can try this yourselves, as I have done, with some cheap cuts, a red onion and a pinch of cumin and black pepper. Try it with some buttered continental bread for a quick hearty lunch and you can even flash fry the lamb in olive oil if it's raining and the BBQ wont hold a flame.

    With both the bikes and ourselves fuelled it was time to finish off the day on the road up to Chefchaouen. When we started off I got the first significant feeling that this is almost it, the trip is nearly over. To be honest I felt it a little bit in the morning at the hotel and afterwards at Volubilis but now it had hit me on the flat straight road heading north. I for one was trying to absorb all of the scenery as we raced on, and because the riding was easy there was a lot of time to soak up the views across the plains and valleys to distant hills before we were due another climb into the Rif Mountains where we would have to concentrate more on the corners and traffic. This wouldn't last though because there HAD to be another puncture to deal with just outside of Ouazzane and only about 40Kms from the hotel...



    Steve's rear tyre had let go in a big way and had a tear about an inch long causing an instant handling problem. He did a good job of keeping the bike inline and even managed to get it off the main road to avoid the often wayward local traffic. There was quite a few of these at this stage but as a boy scout would say "Be Prepared" and the trailer was out again because we couldn't be bothered to repair the puncture.


    Come on Chaps...

    It wasn't a long ride for Steve in the car and soon we were all seeing Chefchaouen again and the sight of the many blue painted houses which are characteristed of this region. The colour of the houses are not the blues in the title of this thread but it's the Blues of the realisation that this is it. We're done, it's over, finito, and all we have to do is sort out Steve's rear tyre, have dinner tonight and get back to Spanish hotel safely tomorrow.

    Steve's rear tyre was completely ruined but he and Ian managed to find a geezer in Chafcha' who sourced a 2nd hand replacement and got the job done in good time before we set of for an early dinner at the same plce we had been to two weeks ago: It was beef & prune tagines all round this time and we even had the chance to act as a local food guide to a group of Australians who had arrived here on a cruise ship doing a world tour. (PS. Chefcha' is a fair drive from the sea so I'm going to presume that there's nowhere else for well heeled travellers to go and be comfortable any further north and therefore this could, or should, be your first stop over here.)


    A now sharp and well honed team...mostly.

    After dinner we had plenty of time for another walk through the market to spend a few more DibDabs and buy something to take home. All we ended up with was mint tea, T-Shirts, and safron as far as I recall but it is still an adventure of its own to take the walk through that market and come out with a shirt on your back. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, Chefchaouen is definetly worth a night or two especially when you find the Duff Palace. That's not its real name, a Duff is a Royal Marine colloquialism for dessert or puddings which I have learnt on this trip and four of us decided it was too good to resist.
    We had a good look through the windows of this establishment before we went in and noticed it was only occupied by locals who were eagerly consuming the western styled food of burgers, fried chicken, fries, pizzas and something from the vast array of desserts...


    This place is Heaven after two weeks of the same menu everywhere but...


    ...some are enjoying this alot more than others.


    No Fromage thrives on this food and I can see why looking at how happy he is to be here and I'm happy for him even if he did dip into mine whilst I wasn't looking.

    It'll be back to Spain tomorrow and a culture with which we are more familiar, a language I can decode , a meal with some expats at a South African restaurant and a long walk back to the hotel...




  2. #66
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    Top job as always Ditchwater

  3. #67
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    Days 14&15 05&06/05/2012: Cruising, Crashes and Carnage.

    Quote Originally Posted by Duchess View Post
    Top job as always Ditchwater
    Thanks Petal. You my want to avert your delicate eyes for this post because its gets a bit unpleasant at the end.



    An early departure from Chefchaouen was dictated by the sailing time of the ferry we'd decided to take for our return to Espania. After two weeks of hard riding throughout Morocco we had one more to complete to a hotel in Alhaurin el Grande. This wasn't our first choice but it was the only decent place to stay which is close to Malaga, and the airport, for those flying home on Sunday morning.
    We didn't over do it last night. We took our own wine to the restaurant for dinner, the team had a last beer together in the hotel lounge, and later No Fromage, MrIFan and I had our final couple of whiskys or Pastis in the bar with a slightly heavy heart whilst discussing the last 13 days and what we're doing tomorrow night.

    It turns out that 06:15hrs is very early for the chefs in Moroccan hotels and we caught them on the hop when we began to arrive for breakfast in the restaurant. Taking a place at the table one or two at a time relieved the pressure slightly but our morning waiter was clearly under stress delivering pots of coffee and the single glass of the delicious orange juice they allow per person. We're not complaing though because the same staff on duty this morning were the same staff who were tidying up last night after the last of their guests were going to their rooms.

    After a last taste of doughy pancakes, cheese, olives, bread and honey it was time to clear our rooms, load the support vehicle with your overnight baggage and present yourself next to your bike for one last parade for Sunray.


    It's just gone 07:00hrs and it is very quite now except for the hotel's Guardian, a random policeman, and a couple of hash dealers hoping to give you something to remember your time here: As if we need it...

    It may be early but there is one unusul observation I make. It's a woman up a tree. What is she doing? A bit of early morning topiary or harvesting fruit? I may never know now but I'm guessing she's picking the new season's olives...


    You see, there to the right. No ladder, no scaffold or Hi-Vis. A Health & Safety nightmare in the UK.

    There's one more thing to do this morning regarding food and that's to make sure we get to buy a tagine to take home to practise our cooking skills with. We could have purchased tagines from day one but they would never have survived until now so we held our patience over the weeks and found a roadside trader outside of Chefacha' who had the real and useable items we wanted at the right price. MrIFan advised us that the heavily decorated pieces will not last long in the oven and to choose wisely if you want to use it or look at it. I chose one to use....



    ...and a moment to have my picture taken as a RagHead.



    As you should by now expect it was not incident free here. Once we had made our purchases and we were safely loading our pottery into the Land Cruiser Bill noticed his crash helmet starting to be blown off of his skinny KTm seat and took a lunge to save it but went right over the bike and skittled Gaz's (actually now Jono's) HP2 for one last pile of decked metal in Morocco. We'd be better off out of here!

    We rode for for a few hours to Tangier Med on what was supposed to be the fast route to the motorways and then toll roads but it felt like an age when suffering from post trip depression. It was a real bummer heading back to the port but we had to leave for now, until the next time, and be content with what we've experienced and wait to board the ferry for the next couple of hours. It was cloudy at the port but the veiw over to Spain was not good and it looked very grim weather wise and, almost as soon as we were sailing away from the N. Africa there was spots of rain falling on the decks dispelling our thoughts of a sunny afternoon's riding along the Med Autovias.

    Algercias was wet and in fact the whole of southern Spain was wet on that day. It was one more test of our mettle to have our first ride on genuinely wets roads in two thousand miles and perhaps get a little bit of water down the back of our necks. So it was out of the port, onto the autovia and looking for a convenient fuel stop to ensure the HP2 and TTR weren't going to run out and give us a straight run to the hotel, a shower, a change of clothes, and a night out for a meal from a menu with choices.

    The fuel stop was simple but the exit wasn't. It was only a matter of a few hundred meters and a mini roundabout to get back onto the motorway. I was following Skygod and he and I entered the highway and set off with the sort of speed which takes you home after a long weekend under canvas on a field. After a minute or so it became clear that we were on our own and pulled over into the narrow hard shoulder. We decided to move on to somewhere safer and stopped at a layby for a limited discussion about what was going on. It took about ten minutes for Steve to arrive and report that there had been a crash for someone just after leaving the fuel stop: It was Grez who had gone down. Apparently there was a fuel spill on the mini roundabout which caught Grez out and another couple of cars as well but, he had twisted his forks in the yokes and it was going to be one last trailer ride for Grez's bike and one more ride for him in the car.

    We needed to get a move on because we had a table booked in a South African themed restaurant for this evening and we didn't want to lose it for being late. We pushed on as best we could through the rain, giving our bikes a wash on the way, and eventually arrived at the junction for Mijas which took us into familiar territory for the first time in what seemed like a lifetime ago. It was a shame but we have ride past Mijas to get to Alhaurin el Grande on the southern slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountains which face the Med
    from the Costa del Sol. It turned out to be more of a shame when we started to ascend those hills when the rain stopped and we arrived into the clouds which produced it. This was probably some of the most difficult riding I have EVER done. The visability was almost zero on a narrow and twisty steep mountain climb. Goggles because useless or misted, hands were cold and wet, and trying to keep sight on the taillight in front became as must of a challenge as staying on the road and avoiding the near invisible roadside stone walls. These last difficult kilometers of road riding could have easily separated the group with each individual's desire to make it to our destination but when riding as a team, we all kept an eye on those behind in our mirrors and ultimately everyone made to the hotel carpark for an animated conversation about what we'd just been through: Thankfully the F-Word swearing rule ended when we left Morocco otherwise there would have been three of us doing several tens of press-ups outside of that hotel's reception. I must say, Well done to all. With tired bodies, worn tyres, second hand tyres and tyres we didn't want, it was good job well done to get through that unscathed (except for Grez in the car . I know you would have done it. )

    After a quick turn around in our rooms it was off for a short walk, up hill again, to the The Boma (the S.African restaurant). The clouds had miraculously cleared while we were getting ready for a proper Boys night out and we were all looking forward to it.
    The Boma is lively place on a Saturday night and was well populated with English speakers when we arrived. It soon became clear that this was a popular place for the expats from the UK and the colonies living in this part of southern Spain.
    We were straight onto to the cerveza when we arrived and gave our orders for a three course dinner. The food here was a delight after the repetious offerings in Morocco, The was a lot of chicken, pork ribs, steaks and burgers on our table for starters and main courses and of course a couple of bottles of vino tinto. The desert of Honeycomb Ice Cream was almost universally taken on our table and then it was time for some more wine. We were enjoying ourselves...


    I don't know what he's doing but it's all over me...

    We were even privileged enough to have group pictures taken by another punter who realised that we were on a night out and all should be included for posterity...





    But we're not the only one's out for a good time tonight. The wine is flowing at our table while others are making the most of a Saturday night away from whatever they do here for their work and those on holiday for a couple of weeks...


    The Table Dancer's look like they've done this before and...


    ...maybe at this location because the staff don't care.

    Alas, we can't stay here all night because three of the group have to be at the airport by midmorning tomorrow and our tired bodies have had enough after an unccountable number of bottles of South Africa's premium Shiraz and therefore we'd better head back to the hotel. The walk back to the hotel, previously a short walk, was almost as difficult as the ride up the hills from the coastal roads earlier in our day. It was a stagger of gross proportions in the fresh night air and I must admit that all I can remember of this was trying my hardest to stay upright and be sure to keep up with the group I've worked so hard to stick to since leaving home. Only by luck and flaw did we manage to make it back to the hotel and not get runover on the road or fall over a wall.

    It turned out that Matt had fallen over a wall but landed in such a relaxed state that he managed to avoid any injuries and went straight to bed, and my bed as it happens. MrIFan tripped over something and by the morning his left foot was hanging off (it later transpired at home that he had cracked a bone in his ankle ) but it didn't stop him finding a place for a rest before bedtime...


    Come on Old Chap! That can't be comfortable for your lower back.


    Steve doesn't seem that keen on helping him out of there and I can see why.

    The fact of it is that at this stage during our trip we had almost given up helping each other out of a hole and have regressed to nothing more than school boys laughing at each other.
    In the morning I wondered who was responsible for this mess...


    I don't think we'll be welcomed here later in the year.


    I don't know how long He was there but it was an Awesome effort to extricate himself and get himself to his room.

    Time for bed. Boing! As Zebedee would say...


    At least Ian is maintaining his sense of humour.

    After the carnage of Saturday night Sunday morning was bright and sunny. This didn't help us much though because there was a breakfast to be avoided, a run to the airport to be done for the flyers and a trailer to be loaded.
    I managed to drag myself out of Matt's bed (see above...He'd taken mine. ) before I wet myself and get to the bathroom just in time. Now, it's nothing new to me that I need to get up early for a pee sometimes but the sight I encountered on the way back to bed made sure that I was now awake...


    Oh Dear! I need my flipflops on my feet.


    I hope none of that's gone into my travel bag.

    To give him some credit he did attempt deal with last night's dinner and wine and all I can say is that I'm glad I wasn't the room maid on that day!



    Bill, Grez Matt and Steve were all due to fly home today and even though Matt's flight wasn't until the afternoon he decided to go with the others on earliers flights to minimise the logistics. We all managed to congregate for our fairwells outside of the hotel's entrance doors and load the baggage into the car before the troubles started again...


    I didn't know Steve could move so fast.


    It's not a quickie...


    ...and there's time to move...


    ...from place...


    ...to place.

    "Get on board a go you lot." We all shake hands and they're gone. Skygod takes then to the airport, Ian and I go for our morning coffee and after small breakfast I go and sit outside and send Gaz a text message after realising my own condition is worsening as the morning sun gets warmer:

    "HELLO SUNRAY, THIS IS DELTA WHISKY, NODUFF OVER."

    For those who don't know, a NODUFF message is military radio procedure for a medical emergency and it could be said that there were at least seven casualties on that morning and I had suddenly realised I was in that squad.

    When Gary returned from the airport and had had his coffee it was a simple matter of loading six bikes onto a trailer, for the next two hours, before a humble departure from the hotel and one last difficult descent down a twisty mountain road and the road north towards Bilboa and a ferry home.

    Well there's nothing more to add here except to say Thank You to the guys at AdventureBike Warehouse for the time you spent helping me with my new bike and the parts you supplied, and more importantly those with whom I travelled: You were a great bunch of Geezers and I look forward to seeing you all again the next time we get to go on an adventure.

  4. #68
    What Tyre pressure you running
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    That was a MANS night

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    Be Safe............and if you cant be safe..........BE LETHAL.

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  5. #69
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    not now


    not long now

  6. #70
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    you need to get weaving... if it's gonna be ready for the weekend...!


  7. #71
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    I don't know what happened there i must have drank from a dirty glass or something !!!

  8. #72
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    just spent 3 hours reading that

    why do i want an xt600 now

    top stuff

    how much was teh bar bill in the end

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