day 127 to 133 Ronda, Spain to Chefchaouen, Morocco

day 133 – Chefchaouen, Morocco

15th January 2012.  Today we walked into town to explore and there is a path and steps down which made it easy.  We were approached by some nice young and friendly Moroccan men that tried to convince us of the virtues of smoking hashish but we were having non of it so they just gave us the best directions into town instead. 

Blue Arch, Chefchaouen

Blue Arch, Chefchaouen

 

Blue door, Chefchaouen

Blue door, Chefchaouen

 

Blue Street, Chefchaouen

Blue Street, Chefchaouen

 

Another Blue Door, Chefchaouen

Another Blue Door, Chefchaouen

 

Another Blue Street, Chefchaouen

Another Blue Street, Chefchaouen

Well the Medina as its called is amazing and we don’t of course know yet if all Moroccan towns are the same but it really was like something from ‘Disney’ I just felt like I was on a film set!  We wandered around and around Tina taking loads of pictures until we felt we needed a sit down and a cheeky mint tea.  Tina wanted to try falafels for lunch so we wandered around until we found the big square were the main Mosque and restaurants are.   There was plenty of choice and plenty of willing vendors but apparently Falafel is only available in Tanger so we settled for a gorgeous chicken, lemon and olive terrine and soaked up the fabulous atmosphere of the square. 

Life in the Square, Chefchaouen

Life in the Square, Chefchaouen

When you visit Morocco you really get the feeling you are experiencing a different culture, different foods and a completely different way of life compared to the countries we have visited so far which are really just a variation on the same theme.

I think the photos Tina took tell the story and if you want to know more about this wonderful place then we found a great website http://www.chaouen.info/in-medina.html  [Camping Morocco, page 55, CHEFCHAOUEN, Camping Azilan, Rue Sidi Abel Hamid, Chefchaouen, www.campingchefchaouen.com from, www.vicariousbooks.co.uk].

View of Chefchaouen from the camp site

View of Chefchaouen from the camp site

 

We loved this Double Decker Camper

We loved this Double Decker Camper

day 132 – Martil to Chefchaouen, Morocco

15th January 2012.  Martil is a very pleasant coastal resort and a ‘soft’ start to touring Morocco but we felt one day was enough and we should move on to visit the blue town of Chefchaouen. 

Tina and I normally have quite in depth ‘discussions’ when travelling that revolve around directions so I anticipated an interesting journey as we only had a map!  Can you imagine! 

The journey was fab and very interesting.  After we by-passed Tetouan we drove inland on the N13 and a climb up to Chefchaouen.  Now this was more like it – proper Morocco with laden donkeys and women bent double with the weight of their loads of what just looked like green twigs.

You get a great view from Christina’s cab and the landscape in Morocco is not manicured as it is in the rest of Europe.  Buildings just pop up, shepherds look after their goats and sheep as there are no fences, walls and hedges everything seems more natural. Roads are not as good as we had previously experienced so you just need to allow a bit more time but time is something we have plenty of.

Again ‘Sat Navless’ we still managed to find our way easily to the campsite recommended in ‘Camping Morocco’ and after negotiating a couple of very steep roads behind a huffing and puffing lorry we settled in our new camp up on the hill with a beautiful view over the town. [Camping Morocco, page 55, CHEFCHAOUEN, Camping Azilan, Rue Sidi Abel Hamid, Chefchaouen, www.campingchefchaouen.com from, www.vicariousbooks.co.uk].

day 131 – Ceuta, Spain to Martil, Morocco

14th January 2012.  We set off early and we made it across the border!  We had been given lots of advice and heard different stories about how easy or difficult it was going to be but our tactic of over-nighting in Ceuta and getting to the border early before the rush worked well.  We would recommend it if you ever make the trip yourself.  We ignored the con men that try and flag you down to offer their help.  You don’t need ant help and it costs nothing to clear customs unless you want to support the local Moroccans of course and make life difficult for the next visitor that comes along. 

Both Tina and I have spent a bit of time in developing countries and there is a noticeable cultural difference between Spain and Morocco but the roads from the border are good and flanked by well kept and well watered grassy borders.  There is lots of development going on including a new Ritz Carlton Hotel being built along the N13.  For the first time on the trip we were using just a map as Garmin don’t have a map for Morocco and neither does autoroute we followed the excellent directions given in our ‘Camping Morocco’ book from Vicarious Books to the campsite at Martil – no problem.

We hadn’t realised that it wasn’t 9.30 when we arrived but 8.30 as we gained an hour driving into Morocco – no wonder the whole campsite was still asleep!  We discovered it’s great to arrive early at a site because you can get sorted and out to explore. 

We walked up to the beach with Loli and then wandered into town on the look out for a bank and Maroc Telecom so we could get a 3G SIM.  We found a bank and got some Dirham but not a Maroc telecom office that was open but we needn’t have worried because when we got back to the campsite we found out we had a fab Wi-Fi signal better than we have experienced in Spain or Portugal.

The campsite restaurant did a ‘Menu de Jour’ for 50 Dh or €5 so we tried it out and it was amazing Couscous Chicken we couldn’t eat it all there was so much and I discovered ‘Mint Tea’ Moroccan style which is now officially my favourite drink!   [Camping Morocco, page 57, MARTIL, Complexe Touristique Al Boustane, BP 727, Tetouan Principal from, www.vicariousbooks.co.uk].

day 130 – Tarifa to Algeciras to Ceuta, Spain

13th January 2012. It’s very windy in Tarifa which is perfect if you are a wind or kite surfer but apparently there is a very high suicide rate among residents due to the incessant wind so we have ruled it out as a potential place to settle.

We had a wander around the old town near the port.  It was very ‘hippyish’ and Tina mentioned that for people who don’t or can’t go to Morocco they go to Tarifa instead for a taste of Africa which is only 35minutes away by ferry and clearly visible.  We had a walk along the fabulous beach which stretches for miles with Loli and then headed back to café Central for a cheeky coffee and a snack.

We passed a few offices selling ferry tickets and popped in to compare prices which were €240 return.  However one of the guys came out of one office when he saw us pass again and offered us a special price of €220 so clearly it’s negotiable so we decided to go to the agent recommended in @camping Morocco by Vicarious Books in Algeciras.

The agent was extremely helpful we only got charged €180 return and they produced all the required import papers for the motorhome they gave us all the other forms needed in a nice wallet and a chocolate cake and a bottle of Cider what fab service.

We needed to get at least a months supply of dog food for Loli at Carrefour which is her favourite make and I noticed at least 40 motorhome parked up in the Lidl car park across the road all set to stay the night before taking the ferry the next morning.  So rather than get caught up in big queues we decided to take an evening ferry and beat the rush.  Why wait!

We were the only motorhome on the boat which was empty so it made for a pleasant crossing.  At Ceuta we filled up with duty free diesel and asked where we could park overnight and were directed along the coast to a car park where there were already a few motorhome sparked up so we settled down for the night. [Car Park on sea front, Ctra Nacional 352, Ceuta, N35.880280, W5.326529]

day 129-  Ronda to Tarifa, Spain

12th January 2012. We got Christina ready for the off but before we went we were invited to tour around Jo Jo and Andrews van.  It was fabulous inside with loads of nik naks, a shrine to the trip and a Spain shelf. It inspired us to ‘theme’ Christina in some way.

Tina with Andrew, Jo Jo in their fab van

Tina with Andrew, Jo Jo in their fab van

 

The 'Shrine' to their trip

The 'Shrine' to their trip

 

A Shrine to Spain!

A Shrine to Spain!

We paid up and headed away from Ronda which we had enjoyed so much towards Tarifa on a different road to the one we had come in on.  The scenery was awesome we have been so impressed by the area that we both felt we need to come back and spend even more time there. 

Now our original plan had been to stop on the beach near Tarifa where apparently all the cool surfers hang out so we headed to the recommended co-ordinates to find what seemed more like a gypsy encampment.  Yes it was on the beach and there were surfers around but it just wasn’t us and we were worried that Loli might catch something form the mangy looking dogs that patrolled the space so we turned and left.

We had noticed a few motorhomes parked up on the side of the road that we had passed so we went back there and felt much better despite the howling wind that persisted all night.

I also met a Dutch guy who had an expedition camper based on an old army truck which has apparently used in the desert who was also off to Morocco[Field on right about 3 to 5 km going West out of Tarifa on the Ctra Nacional 340, I forgot to get the coordinates]

day 128 – Ronda, Spain

11th January 2012.  Our 7th day in Ronda and our last so we got Christina ready for the off the next day, caught up with more blogging and computer stuff and planned our trip to Morocco some more.

We were up for one last night out on the town so we mounted ‘Taz’ headed out of the camp site but before we got out we bumped into Jo Jo and Andrew the fab couple with the lime green tent and decorated bike and colourful van.  It was their last night too and like Tina Jo Jo was craving pizza so they said they would probably see us in the town. 

It was a very cold night and we were glad to park Taz up and walk.  I took us straight to the two Pizza restaurants I had spotted before and both were closed.  We thought it may be because we were a bit early so we nipped into a Tapas bar and had a cheeky drink and Tapas.  Jo Jo and Andrew must have had the same idea and saw us in the bar and came in for a chat.  Jo Jo is a hairdresser and Andrew an Art teacher and they were both really good fun.  We separated to look for another Pizza restaurant and eventually met up again when we saw Jo Jo heading determinedly down a street on her ‘can’t be missed bike’ decked in flowers and a squeaky duck bell. We gave chase and sure enough they found the only pizza restaurant in town open so we ate Pizza together and caught up.  They are also travelling for a year and were leaving the next day to go to Marbella. [Camping ‘El Sur’ Carretera Ronda-Algeciras, Km1.5, 29 400 RONDA, N36.72111, W5.17138] 

day 127 – Ronda, Spain

10th January 2012.  We found out that if we stay for a full week which will be the longest we have camped anywhere on the trip then we would get a discount so as Tina was not feeling brilliant we decided to stay an extra day and chill.  [Camping ‘El Sur’ Carretera Ronda-Algeciras, Km1.5, 29 400 RONDA, N36.72111, W5.17138]

 

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