Morocco April/March 2010

So, as I enjoyed [stag]Morocco[/stag] so much last year, I had to see if something was wrong (one never know), and to see if actually was possible to buy gasoline in the country.

The plan was to meet up with some people somewhere in Spain then spend some time in Morocco and then maybe split up again – different interests.

My plan was to leave home Saturday March 27th, then meet up with one or more people in Spain sometime Monday, as it turned out a few things went wrong…. Note to one self; make sure the GPS works before leaving home. I got on the road and the blasting Zumo turned it self out, I switched it on again, a few km. later the same happened, it continued until I got into Belgium, where I decided that maybe a reset would help, it did…. Then my next mistake, as I really dislike the Péripherique around Paris I decided to part the motorway system north of Paris for then to join it again Orléans, what I didn’t know was that this would add 4 hours to my travels south.

I don’t know if it’s me, but it seams that my journeys going to and from my vacation destination always tend to be a bit of an issue, the weather last year was nothing to write home about, also as some might know there was an accident in Spain, this year was cold, so bloody cold, don’t always know why I do these things.

Day 1, 27/3-2010, 559km
Rotterdam -> Dreux (France)
GPS played up, bit of rain, and not very warm, what happened to spring (which was supposed to start 6 days ago). Formula1 hotels are to be avoided in the future.

Day 2, 28/3-2010, 1292km
Dreux -> Ventas de Irun (Spain)
<censur> weather. Don’t know why one actually do these things, but there much be a reason for it. After Bayonne the weather started getting better, 16c – 19c what a bliss. In Spain!!, found a Hotel, no restaurant, but free internet (humm)

Day 3, 29/3-2010, 2305km
Ventas de Irun -> Malaga
Nice morning, sun is out, looking promising. Well, that was only for the first 50km, then everything went back to my normal vacation weather, meaning cold, and rainy (heavy mist). While waiting for Martin and Tom in Burgos I got some more cloth on, not that it helped much. Arrived in Burgos around 12pm found a place to sit, send an text got an answer… found my book, 2 hours later I asked where they where, on the way was the answer, an hour later I send an text that I would be leaving and meeting up with Matt in Malaga, who had an issue with his bike. South of Madrid was horrible, heavy gusting wind from west, and as everyone know overtaking a truck in these conditions are nerve racking, still enjoyed Sierra Nevada (as always), arrived in Malaga around 11pm, meet up with Matt who was a bit down due to his bike problems, but a recovery truck would take the bike to BMW next morning.

Day 4, 30/3-2010, 2338km
Malaga -> Melilla (Spanish Morocco)
Went out to BMW to see how Matt was doing, and by surprise everything got fixed, off to find the ferry (how can it be that ferry ports are so difficult to find). Martin and Tom was already there. Got the tickets, and after a bit of “exploring” and asking around we found the ferry. Custom lady like me bike <grin>, well to say it this way; she was not ugly. I discovered that my sunglasses was broken, and in the hysteria in getting ready I forgot my hat. Sitting on the top deck in the wind was not the best thing, ugly burns on the top of my head was the result….

Day 5, 31/3-2010, 2491km
Melilla -> Guercif (Morocco)
Martin had to change tyres (TCK80’s), which he was done with around 12pm (yarn…), then off to the border.. How was it, oh yes, white paper for the entry visa, papers for the bike afterwards, easy, got everything sorted fairly fast, around 20 minutes, then all hell broke loose. Matt and Martin did not have any insurance (green card), and Melilla there is no way to get the bike across the border without an insurance, they tried going to the shop across the border no luck; “we will have the papers in 3 hours” was the answer, then into Nador with a taxi, where they didn’t want to deal with them (I think). Not that it isn’t interesting sitting at the border, but there are limits.

Finally after more than 3 hours (even more yarn…) they got the insurance, and we got across.

Arrived in Guercif, where we found a Hotel, without European toilets… after some very nice food, bedtime.

Day 6, 1/4-2010, 2879km
Guercif -> Hotel Timnay north of Midelt
Started out, got breakfeast in Taza, then went south on the small “roads”, which was really nice. We finally got to a junction where we more or less had decided to turn right, but that changed, and we turned left which for me ended my trip off “tarmac”. In a hairpin on gravel the beast decided to take a nap which caused me to bust my shoulder and twist my bag.

I have to say that the scenery was stunning though.

There is one “rule” to driving in Africa, “DO NOT DRIVE AT NIGHT”, it’s pitch black. We finally got to the hotel, and after a fairly quick dinner went to bed. The dinner was in a way interesting, there was entertainment by a local folk group, I am not sure if it’s one of the things I would like to experience again.

Almost fell of the bike, when we finally stopped, inscrutable pain in shoulder and back.

Day 7, 2/4-2010, 3174km
Hotel Timnay -> Merzouga ([stag]Erg Chebbi[/stag])
Due to the issue with my shoulder I decided to continue on tarmac, where the others continue on grave and worse (last time I saw them). There is not much to see in the desert, well there is as there is the Atlas mountain range which is like big…

Now the warm weather started, when I left the hotel it was around 24c, which was nice, after I crossed the Atlas it got to around 28c, which was really nice, before long I was no longer freezing, and before end of the day it was 34c – hot!

The reason for going to Merzouga was to see Erg Chebbi which are the largest dunes in Morocco reaching 150m, ie. big pile of sand;-).

Blasted shoulder kept me from doing fun things….

With the help of a Tim Cullis and his way point file I found a place to stay for the night; Chez Jullia. Julia is an Austrian lady who runs an auberg which at edge of Merzouga (N31°05.937 W04°00.858). Julia speaks French and German, no English, and as I speak German we had a quite entertaining discussion about Morocco, being the only guest that evening probably helped.

Food was awsome…. !!!

btw. it’s hot….

Day 8, 3/4-2010, 3506km
Merzuga -> Zagora
Got off to a good start, decided to take the Desert Highway (“Highway”, ha!), also known as N12. Still warm, stopped for fuel and had a nice conversation with the owner of the next door cafe. Hot!! and dry!!

Driving at the edge of Sahara is interesting, but also not as fun as one would think, many places people beg for money or food here children (shepherds) beg for water, but being on a bike where one does not have too much in the first place (2l in camelbag, and 2l on the bike, which is enough for a day if something should happen), also due to bacteria one cannot let them drink of a bottle. Heartbreaking. On the other hand, as I’ve seen how donkey are treated in the north where they live a miserable life, down south where it seams that the women are looking after them they seam to have a good life, hard but good.. nice.

Due the wind much dust in the air, humidity is close to 0%, drinking water does not help much, actually it doesn’t…. Can look at the sun without any protection….

Finally goto Zagora, checked in at Chez Ali, quite interesting, except that they could do with air-condition in the room, blast they are hot. But as long as the shower works everything is fine.

Day 9, 4/4-2010, 3707km
Zagora -> Ouarzazate (War-za-zat)
Got packed, the people at the hotel looked as they where happy that I was leaving, don’t know why, could be my skin color.

Julia got me looking in Lonely Planet as she mentioned that there was a library in Tamegroute which is famous, of cause I had to have a look, it then turned out that it was closed as the caretaker died the previous night. Oh, well next year.

Turned north, and after some uneventful hours on the road arrived at Bikers Home.

Many good things can be said about [stag]Bikers Home[/stag]; hospitality is great, the food is great, and the beds are a bless…. and with some luck one might meet some people who have interesting things to say.

Day 10, 5/4-2010, 4073km
“Gorge de Dades”

Wow, stunning… Peter (Bikers Home) already warned me that the corners might be “interesting” due to sand and stones, turned out that a rain the previous week had removed some parts of the road.

Went the whole way up, before turning back, back 2 hours late… (shame on me), but I had a great day.

A Dutch couple in a converted Steun truck (4×4… big!) had arrived, nice people.

Day 11, 6/4-2010, 4074km
Hanging around doing nothing the whole day nice…

3 British KTM riders showed up, funny people. Went out for dinner.

Day 12, 7/4-2010, 4527km
Ouarzazate -> Artist Motel/Camping (N32°34.325 W6°00.595)
Early start to meet up with some people from last year… Nice to see them again. News flash they want to make to Mekness in one day. Got to the pass, still in one piece.

One have to know that there is a solid white line more or less the whole way over the Atlas and overtaking isn’t always easy, as I discovered coming around a blind left, where an idiot was in the middle of overtaking a bus, only luck saved me from lots of pain, but he still brushed my pannier. One fell (by breaking, no harm done there). Everything stopped, and suddenly he just took off, before I got a picture of the number plate, blast!!!

We stopped for lunch some where past Marakesh, then off again. Now I’m on vacation, and can take it easy (which I prefer), so after a while I went back to driving the speed I feel comfortable with, then stopped for gas, and send a text saying “sorry…., see you later”.

Yet again Tim came to the rescue, found a Motel/Camping (camping was closed), where they didn’t speak English, French only – well gestures also work… and I got a bed for the night.

Day 13, 8/4-2010, 4977km
Artist Motel/Camping -> [stag]Chefchaouen[/stag]
Turned out to be a long day. Got away later than expected, the drive to Mekness was interesting.

;

Stopped for 10 minutes to take a couple of photos which is what I can call my tourist time there. Took some time to get back on the road, and further ahead the Rif Mountains where looming. It’s not one of my most favorite places, and I really would like to be able to find another easy way to the north without having to pass them.

Turned left instead of right to get to N13 (you’re on N13, but have to use N4 to continue on N13…), not the most “interesting” place, found a place for fuel, turn around and found the right way.

Got to Chefchaouen, and a hotel, was too polite to say no thank you, and that got me a cheap hotel, €15 for the night, but not really that nice… as I forgot the name I cannot really recommend it to anyone, which I wouldn’t do anyway. Except that the people where nice, had to explain the “bell-boy” that I could carry my helmet myself!

Went to the medina, where I ran into 3 UK students who where on a charity run, ended up talking to them the whole evening over a drink and some food (olives are always nice… <smile>).

Getting out of the media turned out to be a bit of a challenge, no matter what I did I ended up at the wrong exit, had to back track my route 4 or 5 times before I found the right exit… pew, that was the longest hour in a very long time. Had to explain to a few “nice” people that no I was not interested in hashish.

Told the people at the hotel about my non-ability to find my way out of the media, they where laughing out loud – understandable.

Have to go back and get some photos of the media, the blueish colors are amazing.

Day 14, 9/4-2010, 5187km
Chefchaouen -> Jerez (Spain)
Got up early, while packing my bike someone asked me in Danish how I was.. looking around I didn’t see any pale-skinned people, and thought that I must have been dreaming… turned out that the owner of the Hotel had stayed in Denmark for sometime years back and spoke a very good Danish… funny…

Got to the border (Ceuta) papers sorted, ferry ticket, then the 2 hour wait for the ferry….

Then Spain, back in Europe, I had decided to take the western route north, and as it was still “early” I decided to heard north and find the first Ibis I would run into.

Day 15, 10/4-2010, 6255km
Jerez – Biarritz (France)
I really have a strong dislike against driving in Spain, I really don’t know, but when one look at the roads, and know that I / you paid for them, and they where paid 4 times, and at the same one have to pay to drive on them. On top of that people (the locals) drive like idiots (worse than the Dutch)….

Made it across the Pyrenees and into France (yes!!!), got a bed at the first Etap Hotel, which is one step up from Formula1 (one bathroom), but that is the best there is to say.

According to my GPS it’s only 1.195km home.

Day 16, 11/4-2010, 7472.9km
Biarritz – Rotterdam
Long day, cold day, not enjoyable at all… only thing which was missing to make it even worse was rain, which didn’t start until the last 1 hour, luckily only misty rain. Paris was amazingly fast compare to other times, maybe I should go via Paris next time I go south… Home at last, shower, cup of tea, bed…..

All in all:

  • 7472.9km
  • 80.4km/h avg.
  • 92.51 hours driving

Going back, bet ya!

All the photos can be found here

One thought on “Morocco April/March 2010”

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