12-13/07/2019: Granada
Km travelled today/sum: 171km / 8528km
Sun shine, 30 degrees, country road

We managed to leave Ronda the next day after all.  Following a beautiful ride through the mountain we hit the highway and were in Granada in no time. From our hotel room, we had a nice view onto the surrounding mountains.

The next day we hopped onto the train, which would bring us close to the Alhambra.

We walked from the train station to the entrance, most of the way being… uphill. The Alhambra is a fortress complex, which was built on the ruins of a roman fortification and then extended from around 600 BC by the Sultans and later by Kings. We entered the Alhambra through the Justice Gate.

The tickets to the Nasrid Palaces, the most interesting part of the Alhambra, are time bound. We got some tickets for the late morning. We were amazed as soon as we entered the palaces. The details in the decoration were magnificent!

Entering the Palace of the lions was the highlight of our visit. The rich decorations as well as the court yard were just awe inspiring. Below is the entrance to the court yard.

 

And here is the court yard and the fountain, which gave the palace its name. Each of the twelve lions is slightly different. Some have different paws, other different faces or fur.

One side of the court yard leads to the hall of two sisters, which had a dome honeycombed with tiny cells comprising the ceiling.

We were again and again amazed by the intricacy of the craftsmanship in plaster, stone or wood.

Some ceilings had small windows with colourful glass, which illuminated the wall with different colours.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Below is a nice view into a garden with a fountain. In the palace, the temperature was pleasant even when it was around 35 degrees outside. The open design with the fountains and the garden worked like a natural evaporative air condition.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From the place we walked to the ‘General life’, the sultan’s summer place outside of the fortified Alhambra. In case of danger, the Alhambra could be reached in minutes by foot. The garden with the water fountain felt really nice, particular during the hot day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One staircase had a water channel as a handrail, which I found quite unique.

From here we walked to the older part of the Alhambra, ‘The Alcazaba’ which was the fortress only. Later on, the Palaces, Gardens, Housings and new rampages with defence towers were added. I must admit, we had the best view over Granada from the largest tower.

And here is the view from the tower along the rampage. It is hard to show the dimensions of this defence structure.

After around seven hours in the ‘warm’ weather, we were exhausted and went back to our hotel with aircon J. Tomorrow we ride to Cordoba to have a look at a cross pollination between Christian and Islamic architecture.

10-11/07/2019: Ronda
Km travelled today/sum: 20km / 8357km
Sun shine, 31 degrees, highway and country road

The next morning we had a nice breakfast in the hotel. There is a huge difference between a Moroccan and a Spanish breakfast. In Morocco you get Juice, Coffee or tea, Roti-like Bread, Omelette, sweet pastry, Fruit and Yogurt. In Spain, you only get Coffee, Juice and a two halves of toasted bread with jam 😩
Nevertheless, breakfast always tastes always good after a diet day😅. After breakfast we hopped onto one bike and were in Ronda 10 minutes later. We parked the bike on the plaza.

From here we walked through the streets to have a look at a palace, ‘Casa del Rey Moro’. The whole city was fortified and to supply the city with water the Moorish king built a water mine.

It sourced water from the river below and a human chain brought the water up to the surface..

The way down to the river is about 60m deep with around 300 steps.

Slaves had to climb those steps with skin bags full of water. Well, it was hard enough for us to make it up, even without any additional load like waterskins.


This is the view from the top of the stair case. The water mine was down by the river.

And here is the bridge which caught our eye when we were riding through Ronda yesterday. To take the picture, we had to climb down a bit. I think we managed it around lunch time – like always…. so it was really warm here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some more views from Ronda to the ravine and to another bridge.


After walking up and down the whole day we relaxed for dinner in one of the many beauituful restaurants. After a nice meal we went home and I had another look into the lonely planet. There I discovered that nearby was a town called ‘Setenil de las Bodegas’. It is known for dwellings built into rock overhangs above a river. So we decided to stay a day longer and check it out. Our host smiled when we extended our stay again. We promised that we would try harder to leave next time 😁

 

So the next day we hopped onto one bike and went to ‘Setenil de las Bodegas’. Not knowing exactly where to go, we went for the highest place. Well, that turned out to be a dead end with a nice view, but we would really like to be at the bottom. So back to the bike, put our riding gear on again, and off we went down to the main attraction.

After we found a suitable bike park, we walked back to the main street. It was nice and cool here, so we had a coffee and some small snacks and let the world pass by.


This is a view inside the restaurant. The rock formation have not been altered, so they build a wall in front of the cliff and ready was the pup/shop. It was nice and cool in summer, not sure how much water soaks through the stone in winter when it rains.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From here we explored the cliffs dwellings a bit more. At one stage the road leads through a hole in the cliff, so the width of the street is just a bit wider than a car. So if a car is coming, you better search for refuge, otherwise you risk your toes J

As in overall in Spain, there is an Islamic influence in a lot of buildings. We found this beautiful restored house front, I thought I knock and let the owner know that we like it 😁

I liked this street sign, it translates to something 'non-macho violence'.

Here is the church of ‘Setenil de las Bodegas’. We thought is looked a bit like a mosque which was converted into a church. The Spanish peninsula was occupied by the Islamic Moores for around 700 years, so it is quite common that buildings were converted to be used by christians. We couldn’t find anything about it on Wikipedia or the internet, but in the church we found a pillar which looked like it had the typical islamic symmetric pattern engraved which was removed later on.


These houses were really different, and it was nice and cool along the river. We hopped onto our bike and went back to our accomodation for a swim. Tomorrow we will really make an effort to leave, maybe it will work this time. The next stop would be Granada to have a look at the Alhambra.

09/07/2019: Ronda
Km travelled today/sum: 130km / 8357km
Sun shine, 31 degrees, highway and country road

When we bought the ferry tickets, we got a mail with some paperwork to print. Our host was luckily nice enough to to print it all out for us! So in the morning, we arrived at the harbour early and since we had printed everything we followed the signage for travellers with tickets. As we found out, we didn’t print the tickets, we printed the booking conformation. So when we parked the bikes to walk back, an official approached us and tried to sell us tickets for the ‘fast ferry’. We explained that we had tickets and where happy with what we had. To cut the story short, he ‘helped us’ to get our tickets and our passport papers, and in the end his friend was asking for money, because ‘they’ helped us. We had only 50 Euros and which would have been way too much, so we told them we didn’t have cash with us. Obviously prepared for this, they had a great solution at the ready “over there is a ATM, you can get money from there”. In the end I gave it to the guy who really walked us through the process and simply said to the other guy that he wasn’t much help to us and left. It is amazing, how quickly you get a helper without wanting one J. Anyway, there was no fast ferry in the first place; we had booked the fast ferry J. So we continued down the street, had to wait for our bike to get a full body scan and then we went down to our terminal. When we arrived, there was nothing, the gate was closed. There was a guy standing nearby, so I ask him and he explained that the terminal was changed to the first one…. Great! So we drove back with a couple of semi legal turns and finally arrived at our terminal really early.

We got our camping gear out and had breakfast there. Well, it was diet day, so it was pretty basic, but fun.


Two hours later, we hopped onto the ferry and waved Africa goodbye.

The crossing was really fast, we saw Gibraltar within a few minutes. I think the ferry spends most of the time around the Spanish habour, since there seems to be a speed limit. I was looking for the Iranian Oil tanker, which was meant to be stuck there due international disharmony, but I couldn’t see it.

We left the ferry, followed the highway until we reached Algeciras and filled up the bikes, had a coffee and defined a way point so we would follow mountain roads instead of the highway. Not long after, we left the highway and had beautiful windy roads with mountainous landscapes.

 

When we arrived in Ronda, we were looking for a supermercado, and we found Lidle. Somebody was happy about it:

We arrived at the hotel, which had a pool. After settling in our room, we had to sample the pool J

 

We decided that we wanted to explore Ronda because when we passed the bridge we saw amazing looking ravines… So we extended our stay for a night.

06-08/07/2019: Tangier Med
Km travelled today/sum: 269km / 8227km
Sun shine, 23 degrees, highway

This time we used the highway to quickly get to Tangier-Med, the port-city out of the country. We arrived in the early afternoon at our accommodation.

We booked this particular accommodation since it was only about 10 minutes to the ferry terminal as well as being close to a sandy beach. In the afternoon we had a stroll to the beach, which felt really peaceful.

The next day (Saturday), however, there was a festival at the beach with local music, dancing groups and some stalls selling cloth, jewellery etc..

When we arrived at the beach, it was a complete different picture to yesterday. The beach was choc a bloc full. Merchants were pushing their cart through the sand, selling ice cream, soft drinks, water and… Corn?

Sigrid interest was piqued by the corn, so we bough one. For me it looked a bit too well done, but it looked worse then it tasted. I like the natural wrapper J

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In our accommodation we met another motor cycle couple, Max and Christina. They are two Italians which were also on their way back. We talked about motorcycle traveling, particular in Africa. Max did travel quite a bit here and it was interesting to listen to his experience.

Tomorrow we will leave Morocco (Africa for beginners) heading back Spain.

04-05/07/2019: Rabat
Km travelled today/sum: 110km /7958km
Sun shine, 24 degrees, highway

We talked to the person at reception and he suggested that the coastal road to Rabat wouldn’t go along the coast. So we decided to take the highway. We had found a nice place and pre-booked near Rabat. We arrived at our accommodation within no time at all. Our host let us in and we had a look around the property.

The view down the valley was really nice and our room as well.

Our host gave us a long list of things to do, so we decided to have a look at some of them the next day. First we visited ‘Chella’, which is a medieval fortified Muslim necropolis. This place has been a trading emporium from the Phoenicians before the Romans came and established a colony here and so on.
So we parked our bike in front of the city wall and entered through the main gate. At the lower site of the rampart were the ruins.

 

Below is the view from the ruins of a temple. On the right, there is the ruins of the temple and at the lower part are the leftover of the shops, which were below the temple. These are from the roman times.

 

From here we hopped onto the bike and went to the ‘Mausoleum of Hassan V’.

On each door stands a guard, and they don’t mind to have their picture taken with them – if my arabic serves me right J

Opposite the mausoleum is the ‘Hassan Tower’. This was an attempt in 1195 to build in tallest minaret and mosque in the world. But when the Caliph who instigated this died, nobody was completing the started work and so it remained unfinished. The minaret is only half the high it should have and only the pillar of the mosque are there. Well close to the minaret there is a fountain which was finished as well.

This is part of a small wall that was finished at the front side of the mosque. I was often wondering about the holes in the tall wall around Morocco.It turned out they are holes for rigging. Not sure if they would have stayed open.

After all that running around, we decided to have a look at the Kashbah (old Fortres), which is supposed to be quite relaxing. So we parked the bike in front of the old city wall, not without the semi official parking inspector approaching us and making sure that we know that he is looking after our bike when we are away J

We strolled through the Kashbah down to the river, where we found a nice restaurant. Here we had a Mint Tea (of course with sugar) and watched the people around passing by.

On our way out of the Kashbah, we found a grave yard. For me, it looked extremly crowed.

On our way back, we noticed that Rabat has a new tram system and it was still beeing built in the direction of our accomodation. Talking to our host, he mentioned that there is a technology hub close by and the tram would be extended up to there. Apparently, in three years, there will be about 60000 people working there. During our trip we noticed that there were houses build everywhere, the infrastructure enhanced or developed and the water supply secured. We had to buy bottled water only once or twice, the rest of the time the tap water was drinkable

Back in our accomodation we had a beautiful sunset.

So, that nearly concludes the Morocco section of our trip. Tomorrow we travel to Tanger Med, book the ferry, might have an additional day off and then we are back in Europe.

03/07/2019: Casablanca
Km travelled today/sum: 103km / 7848km
Sun shine, 24 degrees, highway

Today was a short day. We arrived in Casablanca around lunch time. And here we got to experience our first traffic jam in Morocco. The time you have to wait at a traffic light felt extremely long. It got worse when we came closer to the central place. So we decided opt for a different route, and that worked well. When we arrived at the hotel, we were directed into a two story underground car park with an extra guy directing the guests to their car/motorcycle parking spot. I wasn’t sure if we really booked into this posh hotel. I quickly got out the reservation and confirmed that we were at the right spot. We were, so I was happy J

We were too early to get into out room, so we sat in the lounge, had a mint tea and made some skype calls using the hotel wifi. Not long after we got our room. The view was fantastic. We looked straight onto the Minaret, the Mosque and some administration buildings.

Unfortunately, the next allotted visiting time was at 15:00, so we had to have a rest before we could head to the Hassan II Mosque. It is the largest mosque in Africa with the highest Minaret. And for us even more important: we could look at it from the inside while participating in a guided tour. So we did. On the left picture you see the mosque and on the right the plaza in front with the museum behind. We booked the tickets and off we went with our guided tour.

First the entrance looked stunning. We learned that around 25,000 worshippers can pray inside, and 80,000 outside, that’s over 100,000 people who can pray at the same time. Not sure how it is with the logistics to get the people to and from the Mosque. Our guide said that during ramadan there are actually that many worshippers praying here.
Anyway, we noticed that the temperature inside was nice and cool compared to the outside temperature.

Here you can see the center of the mosque. Have a closer look at the roof.

This roof is nicely decorated, consists of two parts and is retractable. I guess, this is nessary if 25000 people are inside the mosque.

On the floor was a window to the ablution block below.

Here is a view of the other side of the mosque.

From here we went downstairs to the ablution block where the worshippers wash their hands, forarms, face and feets before praying. This is the entrance to the ablution area.

Here is the ablution area. The ablution area as the mosque itself is devided into two parts, one for women and one for men.

This was the end of the guided tour. For us, it was intersting to see a mosque from the inside. The intricate ornaments were impressive. At the outside there were plenty of fountains, all of them had these beautiful blue mosaic. And particular at a hot day, the water gave a nice feeling.

This is one of the entrance doors. Check out the wood work and the plaster around it, just amazing!

Included in the ticket for our visit to the mosque was a ticket to the museum. Here they explained the craftsmanship and we had a closer look at the carvings, paintings and wood work. During the construction phase, there were apparently around 10,000 artists involved in the decoration of the mosque.

After the museum, we walked to the sea to have a look at the mosque from the front. There was stony beach in front of the dyke wall, where the locals went swimming and surfing. We watched them for a while before we walked to our next destination.

Well.. we are in Casablanca and ‘Here’s looking at you, kid’ should give it away…

Right, we were on our way to Rick’s café! By the way, not one scene of the movie was done in Casablanca. The café with the same name did put a piano in a corner after to create a similar feeling as it was in the movie, but technically they have nothing to do which each other. Anyway, we had to go there to have a look. So we did. Here is the outside of the cafe

And here is the inside of the café with the piano on one side. We opted to have a glass of wine in Rick’s café before walking back through the medina to our hotel.

We were tempted to extend our stay, but unfortunately the hotel was booked out. Tomorrow we will continue to Rabat which would be our last visit to a city before leaving Morocco.

01-02/07/2019: El Jadida
Km travelled today/sum: 264km / 7745km
Sun shine, 23 degrees, country road

We decided to follow the ocean again and it was a good choice. The road was fantastic, with some long curves, following the ocean.

 

At some point it reminded us of the Great Ocean road. There were sand beaches all over the place, sometimes just a small strip at the bottom of a cliff, sometimes nice wide beaches in the middle of nowhere.

The last couple of km we got caught out by the GPS and ended up on a highway… Oh, well can’t win them all. The nights accommodation would be in the Medina, apparently we could park the bikes there. Below is the entrance to the medina and yes, we fit through that gap!

The streets were not too bad, narrow and cobble stones in places but not too bad. We parked the bikes near by, in a place our host said he parked his vehicle a couple of years and never had any trouble. So we unpacked and covered the bikes.

This picture is the view from our rooftop garden. 

 

The main reason why we were here was the Portuguese Cistern. This was build when the Portuguese were ruling this town, to hold water in case of a siege. I liked the reflection in the water, so we decided to have a look ourselves

Next morning when we had breakfast and met David and Andrew from the Czech republic. They were on a short trip to hike up Mt.Jbel Toubkal. Since they had a couple of days left until their hike, they were traveling through Morocco to wherever the train would get them. After a good conversation we took a picture before they departed.

We had a walk at the Ramparts of El Jadida, it was just around the corner. It is hard to imagine how much work they put into these tall thick walls.

It was nice to look down and just listen to the sound of the ocean and watch the fisherman going in and out of the harbour.

Tomorrow we’ll ride over to Casablanca, particular at the ‘Hassan II Mosque’, which is the third largest mosque in the world and it’s open to Non-Muslims.

28-30/06/2019: Essaouira
Km travelled today/sum: 179km / 7418km
Sun shine, 22 degrees, country road

We decided to travel the back roads close to the coast, near a road following the coast more remotely. From some vantage points we could clearly see what a difference a river makes. Around the river, everything is lush and green, not far away from the river, it’s bare.

 

 

We stopped a couple of times just to take in the view.

On our way, we planned a stop to buy some Argan Oil from a womens cooperative. We thought we give the money to the people which are doing the real work. Argan oil is traditionally produced by Berber and is used for food and cosmetics. Since we bought some oil in Tetouan and it smelled beautifully nutty, we thought we replace the nearly empty oil bottle here. We saw the trees with the yellow fruit before, but all of the sudden there was one tree full of goats!

Apparently the goats are eating the fruit, but can’t digest the nut. The nuts come out again and get collected by the Berber women, before beeing further processing to Argan oil. Well, since the demand for the oil is high, I guess there are probably more moderns methods to get the fruit from the trees nowadays…

We thought there would only be one cooperative, but along the way there were several advertisements and when we arrived in Tamanar, there were two shops side by side. Both were trying to get us in…. Eventually we just picked one and went in.

 

 

Here we got shown how Argan oil is produced, step by step. Since it was a Friday, the women who produced the oil had a day off, only the sales staff were there. But it was good enough for us, since we really could take our time to see the production. We bought some oil, went to the shop on the other side, and bought some more 😁.

 

Not long after we arrived at our accommodation. The secure parking was a bit tricky. The bikes should be as close as possible to the fence. So we brought both bikes in, but my bike is lowered and stands more upright than Sigrid’s. This was no problem for our host. He got a piece of wood and jammed it under the bash plate. The bike wouldn’t go anywhere.


According to the Lonely Planet, Essaouira is called the ‘Wind City of Africa’. Well, the wind was blowing hard over the sand. You got a free leg peeling during a walk on the beach. The wind also created the desert shape of the beach. I haven’t seen a beach like this before. There were, of course, camels to ride and hustler to hustle, but when we explained that we have been a camel riding in Merzouga, they left us in peace.


The next day, the wind had died down. Hardly any wind at all, I was happy. So we had a great walk on the beach and enjoyed a visit in the fortress.


Essaouira also has a fishing fleet, which when moored, gives a nice picture.

At night we had a nice dinner with a beautiful sunset in our riad.

The pavement in front of our hotel was great. The tiles were completely flat, but it looked like there were waves.

Breakfast in the riad at the pool.

On our last day, we noticed that we haven’t seen the rampart, so we walked to the fortress, through the narrow alleys and to the rampart access point. The view from here was great.



On our way back, we discovered some shops, just behind the ramp to the rampart, I though it looked great.

We noticed on our beach walks in all different parts of Marocoo that there is garbage all over the place. This time, we thought, we just get a small plastic bag and collect the garbage flying around. When we arrived at our hotel, the bag was full, and we didn’t try very hard to fill it up.

In our opinion, this is a real pity, that the beaches are polluted with so much garbage. My suggestion, every visitor gets a bag and if the bag is returned full of garbage, they don’t have to pay the city tax 😁

We had a really great time in Essaouria, but tomorrow the wind will be back, so we’ll move on. Our next stop is ‘El Jadida’, a port city fortified by the Portuguese.

24-27/06/2019: Agadir
Km traveled today/sum: 87 km / 7302 km
Sun shine, 26 degrees, highway

We packed the bikes, said good bye to Mark and Ann and drove off. On our way was the town of Taroudant. We had a brief look and took some pictures of the Town gate.

From here we drove through Agadir. The traffic reminded me a bit of India, everything goes and keep doing what you are you doing, don’t stop. We arrived at our accommodation unscathed, this time we’d booked an apartment where we could cook for ourselves and the bikes were securely parked.

After settling into the room, Sigrid …… jumped into the pool.

We didn’t have any particular aims, except to plan the last leg of our Morocco trip. But first, we had a look at the beach. Our accommodation was not too far from the beach, but the way to the beach was not very nice. There were some unused properties where the footpath ended and the lots were used as rubbish dump.

Anyway, the beach itself was quite nice. I think it might be a major vacation place for Moroccan families. There was also the opportunity to have a camel ride… since we already did that in the Sahara, we gave it a miss here.

During our walk, we found this nicely decorated mobile tower, it looks like a palm tree!

During our time in Agadir, we went shopping in a super market. To our surprise, you could buy rice and noodles in bulk and the same with the spices.

Here is Sigrid with our dinner, notice the bottle wine on the table. We stumbled across a bottle shop here in Agadier, how nice!

Our next town to visit is Essaouira, apparently the wind capital of Morocco. Apparently they have very nice seafront ramparts, some sort of fortress.

23/06/2019: Quled Aarfa
Km travelled today/sum: 218 km / 7215km
Sun shine, 22 degrees, Mountain road, highway

The Tiz N Test pass is a semi (in-)famous one lane road with mostly tar on it.

As we started though, the first part of the trip was on a road with a lane for each direction and great tarmac.

We passed a water reservoir and could see the start of the High Atlas.


Just after the reservour, the one lane road started. Again, I like these mountain ranges particular looking back at the road we just came from.


We noticed that the drivers were considerate and, if possible, they made space for us so we could stay on the tarmac. We really appreciated that, since the side didn’t have any guard rails and the gravel on the side was partially pretty rough. Eventually we made it to the pass without any problems.

The view was great, in the backgound (right side) you can see the Anti Atlas. After the pass, the road got worse, there were parts without any tarmec at all and riddled with potholes. Just as we were getting used to it a bit, we came around a corner and all of the sudden there was a newly laid road, one lane each direction!


The remaining ride to our accommodation was a breezer, except when we turned onto the last laneway. It was heavily corrugated and had corse pebbles. I guess this bit only lasted 1km, but we were happy when it stopped. When we arrived at the accommodation, I first parked my bike, then I tried to park Sigrid’s bike. Pressing the starter button resulted in a short clunck noise and then nothing. No display, no light and no starter motor. We pushed the bike into the accommodation, fearing the worst.

Off we go, I got the tool out and had a look. Turned out that the battery screw loosened through the bumpy road today. I was happy that it was such an easy fix. And the tools I got from Klaus were put to good use!


Here is a view into the court yard. During the conversation with Mark, our host, we realized that it was his birthday.

Some of Marks friends arrived in the evening, and after dinner we got invited to join the birthday round, with cake made by his wife Ann. Both were from Belgium and moved to Morocco three years ago, to fulfill their dream and run a hostel.

During the time we were celebrating, Diddle made another friend.

Tomorrow is an easy day. We have only 80km to Agadir, the road is a highway and the temperature will be below 30 degrees 😊