Gibralter – Gary’s diary with additions from Ginette
Yesterday was still wet and drizzly and was Sunday so a lot was shut.
We walked over the border across the runway into Gibralter.
We had a wander around with the rest of the tourists of all nationalities, but lots of Brits.
I had 2weeks here with the TA back in the 80s and it has changed enough for me not to recognise any old haunts.
We didn’t go up the hill as we didn’t want to pay the £5each to walk up the steps. After we tired ourselves out around the town we had two beers and wines in an English bar, the bill of £17 knocked me for six.
Back in Spain, we struggled to find somewhere to eat but in the end Net found a Chinese so we had a nice meal, however, this later upset Nets Tum as she is used to mainly fresh produce now.
I cooked on the balcony the next night and we were told off by the hotel staff.
The next day we found a cycle shop to do some adjustments to my rear wheel and fitted a new stand (I think this stand will break in a week), also a laundry trip.
Monday was National Gibralter day so we booked another night in a cheaper hotel in Spain so we could visit again.
The day was nice with everyone wearing red and white, we spent some time on a sandy beach and watched a biplane do a one plain air show.
We missed the main events on in the morning, but a nice atmosphere all the same.
We left early as the drink was taking effect on the revellers so left while the island was still in a good mood.
Breakfast in the park opposite the hotel of cereal and cake.
Today was to be a short ride of 27k to the ferry port and another 3k from the port to the hotel we’d booked, well that was the plan.
The ride was a bit pants, along the same industrial area back to the main road, then we had to cycle along the hard shoulder of the main road as there was no other way to get across to the ferry port.
The ferry process was simple, tickets at the port and onto the next ferry which was less than an hours wait. Our passports were stamped on the ferry. We watched dolphins playing in the wash from the boat. It was also interesting watching a Muslim women breastfeeding her daughter. She like most of the other female passengers were dressed from head to foot but she openly breastfed the child at one point conversing with her friend with her naked breast on show. The world is a strange place.
When we arrived in Morocco 1.5 hours later it turned out that this ferry had taken us to a port some 40k further up the coast, which meant we had to cycle the coast road to reach the booked hotel, a nice bonus?
The ride had lots of little ups and downs all along the coast, we were battered by a side wind which at times helped push us along, however, it had strong gusts and had us both wobbling all over the road, to the point that we both came off our bikes. Ginette nearly went under a tarmac roller, it was very gusty.
The people are much friendlier in Morocco than in Spain, we had lots of eager Bonjours thrown our way and car drivers shouting encouragement as we trundled up the hills.
There were also a few inconsiderate drivers that wanted to shave the hairs off our legs with their car bumpers, not easy cycling when you also have strong winds to make you wobble.
We arrived at Tangiers and our accommodation was inside a small narrow-streeted market area next to the Kazbar. As soon as we arrived in this area we were accosted by the hawkers trying to sell us a room to stay in, one young lad spoke good English and knew the hotel we were aiming for so took it upon himself to lead the way. At this point, we were pushing the bikes as the streets were narrow and full of people.
In the end, we were glad of the man’s help, our hotel was tucked away and would have been very hard to find.
I love the pace we are in, its a Riad, with three stories all tiled inside on the walls and ceilings. Ginette is not so keen, she likes the interior decor but does not like the views (derelict buildings but if you can see the sea), nor the fact that our room opens up to the hotel’s restaurant and the only thing separating us is a very thin curtain and a single pain window. Not the best place to spend your anniversary.
Once settled we made our way out and our ‘new friend’ took it upon himself to be our guide, he took us to a cafe where we sat feeling self-conscious with lots of local boys, with Net the only lady on the level we had chosen. We were hoping for coke but ended up with water, whilst Abdul had a mint tea, this cost us around £3 which seemed a lot.
We were then escorted to a place to eat. the place was great and the owner spoke in excellent English fully comprehending Ginettes dietary needs. we had a 5 course dinner but a £40 bill as well. This was very expensive as we only wanted a snack but felt rude refusing the food which was fairly basic. Ginette was not impressed when the waitress insisted on a tip and not understanding the currency I gave her a further £5.
After lunch, Abdul appeared again like a magic genie. he then escorted us all around the Kazbar but as this trip continued it turned into a sales venture, we were taken to several carpet and silk scarf merchants. I started to get tired and a little stroppy.
It was good to have the tour, we did see a lot of areas that we may not have stumbled upon on our own, but the feeling of being trapped tourists having to be guided was not so good. When he finally led us back to the hotel he wanted money and was clearly disappointed with the £5 I reluctantly gave him.
Tangiers to Lanache
Last night we had a lovely meal in a local restaurant and was stopped on the way back to the hotel to see if we wanted to purchase some weed nice!
A nice breakfast but come bill-paying time thought I was overcharged. Kicking myself afterwards that I should have known what the bill should be, will do this for the future.
The ride out of the city was rubbish, along the main Road which led right to the motorway turning before the road we wanted branched off, this was nearly 20k.
At our lunch stop, we had a huge salad and Ginette managed to fall down the loo! she’d forgotten how to use a drop toilet and her shoe (with cleats) slipped on the enamel on the floor and over she went. Her foot landed in the toilet bowl and the rest of her landed on the floor – yuk!
Once on the minor road things started to get a bit better and as the afternoon c9ntinued we ended up in a rural area with locals walking on the road edges to markets. Donkeys laden with goods. Small motorised carts and also horse-drawn carts. A cycle back in time.
The main crop was melon and watermelon so every 100 yards a farmer was selling his wares at the roadside.
We stopped for a late break and treated ourselves to a melon for 80p, the guy even sliced the melon and fed us the slices. As we entered one of the towns a group of young boys chased me, one fell over and apparently a fight broke out, which soon dispersed when Ginette rode on by this provided another opportunity to chase a bike down the road.
We had planned to try to camp but reaching the fishing/ port town we decided to head to the town centre and booked a room.
Entering town we passed a fish market at the dockside with cafes around it cooking the fresh fish, once we showered we walked back to have a meal of various fish, prawns and calamari. We were given a huge plate plus some other dishes all for £17.
We enjoyed the second part of today with the rural old-fashioned lifestyle.
Lanarche must have been an impressive town in times gone by, there are some amazing buildings that over time have been neglected. There is a lovely square where everyone congregates in an evening, was sat with the locals and watched the children play.
Friday – 105k today ouch.
Set off on a planned route towards Fes, which is over 200k away so no plan to go all the way.
The ride out of town was not too bad but the road again was long and the main road had heavy lorries even though the traffic was light.
Cycling through rural cowboy country, donkeys, old trucks and locals in all sorts of odd clothes, particularly the roadside workmen who like to wear large fluffy and colourful hats.
We had a few issues with the school kids running along side-us they make us a bit nervous as they are sometimes quite a few of them and they can be unpredictable.
The Garmin wanted me to turn down a gravel road so this turn was ignored, we had to go another 20 k before we could try to get back in the right direction, we saw a sign for Chefchaouen, I wasn’t sure quite where this was but knew it was a tourist attraction which was some way closer to Fes so we followed this road.
It climbed a few hills but the road was nice had far less traffic on it. A thunderstorm and lightning was building around us and we could see a downpour in front of us, we took shelter at a bus stop.
Whilst waiting a local lad came over with his I phone on translate to offer us a room for the night. How nice, however, we knew there was a larger town in 25 k so waited for the storm to blow over.
Reached Ouazzane around 7.30, it was on top of a hill, yeah. The town was very busy, men were seated in all the cafes and the streets were packed with market stalls. We had to push our bikes through the crowd, fortunately, a car pulled up and asked us where we wanted to go and in broken French, we explained our dilemma. At first, he seemed to suggest there were no hotels but another local interjected and suggested the hostel. Later that night we walked passed several local hotels so we think there may have been a communication issue,
Found a very basic hostel with shared drop toilet and no air conditioning and went out for dinner. It is difficult to find places to eat/drink which are not full of men, but we found a little cafe. I ordered chicken and chips but Net only managed a salad. I treated her to a packet of biscuits and pop for supper.
A local school teacher engaged us in conversation during dinner, afterwards he took it upon himself to show us around his town, this was great but after a while, the inevitable happened in that he took us to his mate’s shops, carpet shops, clothes shops and asked for a donation to his school.
We did get a lot out of the tour but it leaves a sour taste when there’s a charge and attempts at sales. I don’t think we will be falling for this trick again. A noisy and hot night in the hostel, no air con and a market right outside our window, ear defenders are working out to be a must have as we use them most nights.
We have had no internet for the last couple of days so are going by using old long routes I had plotted on Garmin, maps.me and mainly the street signs.
We did head off towards Fes and Chefchaouen, but pretty soon the road to Chefchaouen headed North East away from Fes so we abandoned the northern route and just headed for Fes.
The morning was spent cycling through the poor rural areas again, the afternoon had less habitation so we spent a long time cycling in 35 degrees with just fields and passing cars.
We thought we were going to have to wild camp, I was pretty tired so only had a few more miles left in my legs when we stumbled on an oasis of a sign stating hotel with swimming pool.
The hotel, was behind a service station and yes there was a pool but there was no water in it.
Evening meal was cooked by chef Gary tucked out of the way from the forecourt. Pasta tuna and vegetables. (out of the way means in the car park)
Some observations from today.
Ginette has her cycle legs back and is leaving me behind, especially when some dogs came barking. Seems I am fair game as long as she gets away.
There are lots of well-preserved waterholes in which the locals gather to feed their animals, wash and take large water containers back to there homes (I presume from this they have no running water). I so want to get a good photo but feel I need to ask permission as I have been told off for taking pictures here.
There is loads of rubbish just thrown by the street sides.
Lots of children ride and work the donkeys.
People wait by the side of the road and hitchhike any passing vehicles
We are drop toilet and no loo roll land
Lots of poverty, poor and old-fashioned farming methods
Cafes full of men drinking tea and coffee, rarely and women.
Loads of stray cats.
Gimmick shops sell long thin pipes for smoking the weed man.
Regular police stop points en route, we are waved on by but many vehicles are stopped.
The service station hotel was quiet and had air con which was good, not so good was the dinner I was providing for the Mozzies. I have several raised and very itchy bites to add to my collection.
Breakfast was cereal with water (Gary had sparkling water).
The day was one of some bumpy bits and views across the hilly area, including a large water reservoir. We are both tired, it’s Ginette’s turn today be the slower one. She has a tummy bug and is going for a Guinness record on the amount of times you can go to the toilet (this is the fourth day so we will find a friendly pharmacist in Fes).
I have again discovered what Coffee and coke do to my body when trying to ride a bicycle. At the 20k mark it felt like someone had turned a switch and zapped all my energy, it dawned on me I had started the day with a coffee, then had a coke at about 10k. I will avoid these in the future the low is not worth the small high.
At one break we finally had WiFi access so booked a room in Fes, whilst the local lads played table football listing to western rap music about cock sucking, nice.
Ginette is hot and weary and has lost the use of language, a simple task of asking for something from her top box turned into a cave girl grunt and point session, ugg, but considering her bad um she is in good spirits.
The temp today was 38 degrees and our water bottles are warm yuk!
The Riad we are in at Fes is really nice, just the like the one in Tangiers but the people seem nicer, speak good English and are welcoming. The room is cleaner with far more privacy. We are going to have a day off tomorrow so that we can explore the city.