A Travellerspoint blog

The end of the journey from the end of the earth

Ouzarate to Marrakech.

sunny

Unable to find the restaurant we were looking for, we settled on La Kasbah, which had a great view of... The Kasbah. Food was soup with official king of spoons, followed by lemon poulet, and cakes with fruit. We wandered back, and a selection of joyous events occurred: we chatted to a man named Abdul, who asked if we could say hello to a short man named Mohammed at our hotel (I did; he didn't know any Abdul. How?). Then, a man asked me to write a letter to his friend Claude, inviting him to his wedding in September. Lastly, as we walked across the long, dark, narrow bridge between the two halves of town, an ambulance pulled up alongside us, and said - in French - "get in, its dangerous here". Hywel turned to me and asked "shall we? It is an ambulance." I don't know if he meant it should be safe, or that it would be fun. We got in. Hywel shared a language barrier moment in the front, while I rode in the back with the medical equipment. Went to bed happy, but due to warmth and noise we didn't sleep until Hywel covered his ears, and in my case until 2am when it grew quiet.

In the morning we arose, abluted and headed downstairs. Mohammed, our guide, met us and we set off to the south. It's mostly paved roads all the way, except a small section beside Agnz. We took in some great views of Draa Valley - the valley around Morroco's greatest river, nearly dry - and met a man with two lizards - one angry, one mellow - passed police roadblocks (bribes changed hands I think), and took in an impromptu tour of a really old Kasbah, from a hyperactive man who loved plaster and really didn't know how to haggle: "its 40 DH each" "Each?" "No. But there's a 10 DH entry fee too" "Really?" "No. Its 40 DH". Arrived at Tinfou (one big sandune and some smaller ones. Why?) and rode camels. Hywel took the bigger one and mine struggled, so later we swapped. Once behind the dunes, our camel guide asked us if we could pay him (we made a small donation, but funds were low and our main guide had a host of ideas for tour extensions) in a perfect blend of English, French and German. He also took some photos and let us run around the dunes a bit. Took lunch at the Camel Gourmand. It was delicious, I ate chicken.

Afternoon we drove up Draa, passed Ouzazate and went to a massive Kasbah famous for movies. Mohammed had sourced some hashish and was flying high, and had gone a bit "picture crazy", so our tour was an amble through the streets with many photos of all of us. He's a camerman when not guiding, and the photos were really good. He invited us back to his, but through tiredness we declined. Shame, as it might have been fun, but I for one needed drink and sleep. Returned to hotel, found restaurant and a selection of staff appeared. Iwas supposed to meet Hywel in the lobby, but felt obliged to take a seat. Hywel, disgruntled, found me soon after. Ate soup and a big pile of meat and melon (seperately). Laughed a lot (second hand smoke?) and went to bed. Dog's chorus kept us awake though.

Woke and took early bus to Marrakech. Battled taxis and ended up sharing one with a girl and a policeman, both of whom we paid for I think. Tried to find hotel Essoura, where one can sleep on the roof for 30 DH, and LOTS of people tried to help / waylay us. One guy told us he'd take us to the street we wanted... But he didn't. When I pointed to the street sign and read it, he seemed pretty surprised, and I felt proud, although still lost. Eventually - and with some help - we found hotel and checked in. Headed straight out and bought drinks and tagine, then visited Sidi Yussef Medersa - beautiful old religious school - and Almoravid tower. Skipped museum. Then bought souvenirs in the souk, and as we haggled badly only three people will be receiving gifts. Drank OJ and wandered down to cyberpark where we found out we'd miss Eurovision. Tonight its food in the square and sleep under the stars. See you tomorrow.

Posted by urchinjoe 10:54 Archived in Morocco Tagged gay_travel Comments (0)

Up and down

Marrakech, Jebel Toubkal and Ouzarate

sunny

We explored Marrakech for a day. Things were largely closed when we arrived, so we wandered around in the medina, which is mainly pink of wall, until we stumbled upon a cafe / restaurant. Menu was... just whatever they brought out, as they fancied. Great heap of meat. Hywel thinks I already said this so I'll stop. Just in case I didn't: snake charmers, Americans (lost and puzzled), monkey on the head, small but pretty tombs hidden down an alleyway, and a delicious meal of pigeon pie (Ahhh, pidge-ON), in a smokey restauant on the square. Also great orange juice.

Climbed Jebel Toubkal (4163m), haggled with taxis for a long while there and back - on the way back driver let some guy look at our bags in the boot, and fought with passers by. The climb itself was very hard (for me) and perhaps worse for 'no shoes' Hywel, who did it in trainers. Met a fellow called Jon who had a map, and hung out with him a while, also met many other climbers in the refuge and played cards until lights out. Arose, climbed some more until I felt like crap, then found out were 150m off summit. Got to top for stunning views, Hywel was highest man in North Africa for a long while - PHOTOS PROVE IT. Took photos for group, then descended at my request. Fell over a lot, and did a few sections tobogan style. Last one best by far, included chicane.

Both feeling crap on return to Marrakesh so ate at McDonalds. I had Tagine Burger - cultural. Made no plans for tomorrow.

Went to Ouzazate (south of High Atlas), on a whim. Looks like you probably think Morroc looks like. Hailed a (free) taxi and ended up arranging a tour for the morrow - some serious haggling; but in the end the chance of camels won us over. Now looking for dinner.

Posted by urchinjoe 12:26 Archived in Morocco Tagged gay_travel Comments (0)

The Marrakech non-express

we went to Morroco

overcast 25 °C

Polished off Spain with a quick visit to the largest Cathedral in the world, Seville, drank Sangria and headed back into Portugal. Camped once more in our feeble tent, although it is now warm enough to survive in, and ate a huge plate of mixed meat and chips. Returned our car. Now, a word of warning: when we collected the car, we were told specifically that we did not need to report cosmetic dqamage, e.g. bumps and scratches, however, on returning the car they tried to charge us for a scratch that had been there before we set off. You want to know which company, ask me in person. Also charged us for damage where someone had tried to pick our lock, possibly in Andorra (but they don't know we went there). Left for Spain by bus, arrived Algaciras late and slept in Hostal Marrakech, which was run down but ok for a night, run by a slightly strange man.

Morning and we went to buy tickets - touts abound and try to sideline you into their own business, but you CAN buy tickets in the port, down all the way to the new buildings. As it went we sailed from nearby Tarifa, bus ride away. Arrived Tanger and booked bus to Fes (gave away some cash in tips or fees, not sure which) and wandered town until a guide of sorts caught us, told Hywel that the Welsh fuck sheep - his words - and led us into a carpet shop. Drank tea, avoided making a purchase (Hywel bought a turban, on purpose though), and shook off our guide. Late bus to Fes, got off in Meknes, realised, bought new ticket to Fes, Hywel had and excellent Kebab, I had illness. Arrived Fes, negotiated way to hotel, slept soundly.

Its been hard to tell swindlers from the genuinely helpful, but I think we missed out on an actual nice guy, he hangs around near the Kasbah and perhaps you should take his help, if you see him. Took a self guided tour of Fes, including Africa's largest Mosque, souks and tanning district - smells better than advertised. Wandered up a hill and around town, ate Couscous and left for Marrakech. Crazily hot, slow and late, met a girl named Zenab who spoke to Hywel, and arrived very tired. Battled with taxi - Hywel, star haggler, got reduction from 150 DH to 30 DH, arrived hotel, tried some French - successfully - and slept. Now exploring.

My name is Ali Baba. I am known for hanging out with 40 women and having a beard.

Also - Chocitos! Don't let the Spanish laugh at you (face of Winston Churchill, voice of Elvis).

Posted by urchinjoe 06:00 Archived in Morocco Tagged gay_travel Comments (0)

Andalucia

Sights, warmth and out of town hotels

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Having spent an enjoyable weekend in Barcelona looking at Gaudi stuff and eating tapas and potato based foods, we drove 800 km or so South, to Granada. Slept in the car again - our tent is awful - and therefore rose early. Visited Granada's sites - old town, so called cave dwellings, and chapel Real, ate (well, if slowly served) then went to the Alhambra. It's brilliant, particularly the ornate Nasrid Palace, which we were unceremoniously ejected from at 8pm precisely. Drove to Cordoba and slept in gorgeous 4 star accomodation, before meandering into town, eating chocitos (messily) and visiting sites: Mesquita, where we played hide and seek, chatted to schoolchildren about Cordoba (Hywel gave a false name) and then left for the old town (typically warrenlike). Ate some sort of crazy pork tube stuffed with ham, left for Granada via ancient Moorish ruins. Slept in huge room with various wings, ate limon lollies and drank sangria. began considering next leg of journey. Awoke, broke fast and headed into town. Visited WORLD'S LARGEST CATHEDRAL - I expected bigger, but it grew on me, and had awesome alterpiece. Climbed belltower / minaret and then looked over town. Wrote this blog.

Posted by urchinjoe 05:43 Archived in Spain Tagged gay_travel Comments (0)

The Holiday that has Everything

Holy Toledo! to Barcelona via Andorra

all seasons in one day
View Summer of the midnight sun on urchinjoe's travel map.

As we´ve been sleeping in tents and car there has been little chance to use the internet, so I´ve not written a blog for a while. And in that time, we´ve done a huge amount, so much so that this entry will be perfunctory at best. It might even be the last one, if it stays hectic.

We fought our way out of Lisbon getting grievously lost, drove East towards Evora where we explored Roman ruins and a bone church. Then we headed to Toledo, via Marida (more Roman ruins) in Spain - my first time in the country! Made our way North and East through a national park (name escapes me) and may have seen and photographed vultures. Hywel left my guidebook behind so we had to turn back. Back on the road to Toledo, arrived late and paid a rather high rate to camp out of town

Explored Toledo, including huge and ornate Cathedral, and I ate Manchego cheese. Helped a lost man. Went to Madrid and saw The Great Masturbater and Geurnica, amonst others. Saw Royal Palace. Returned to Toledo and fought over a street. Got lost a bit.

Drove North of Madrid and visited Monument of the Fallen and Franco´s grave, then a monastary. Drove to Pyranees. Slept in a petrol station car park.

Drove to Andorra, followed the Iron Trail, Saw Man Walking Like Mole, made a snow nigel, ate rabbit, and went to Caldea - awesome huge spa, worlds largest in mountains. Slept in another petrol station.

Drove South and climbed to summit of Monserat. Drove to Barcelona met Laura checked into hotels and went to Gaudi´s unfinished church - my most wanted site in Spain and no disappointment. Watched football and fans. Went home to hostal.

Posted by urchinjoe 13:52 Archived in Andorra Tagged gay_travel Comments (0)

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