We love using “medina” and “kasbah” in everyday speech, as you can in Morocco, as in “I’ll just pop up to the medina to get a few things from the souk, and meet you near the gate to the kasbah.” Oh no, we are not in Sweden or Australia any more. No more gazing longingly at Africa across the water…..we have crossed Gibraltar Strait and landed in Tangier, Morocco.
Some new experiences included:
Being in AFRICA! This continent is new to both of us – and further from the familiar than anywhere we have been together so far. The sounds, smells, sights, and daily rhythms are strange and enchanting, and we are throwing ourselves whole heartedly into the difference! We expected that Tangier may be quite touristy, but this has not been our experience, apart from the fact that of course the marina is full of foreigners, including a surprising number of Aussies!
Emerging intact after being lost in the slums of the drug capital of Europe, before leaving Spain. I was, and remain, very happy about that. As it turned out, I ended up finding the fishing supplies shop I was heading for! Win win I would say! (The being alive win is a little bigger in my mind, even though the lure I bought did land us our first TUNA!)
Meeting VIKINGS! You may think that bumping into a viking occasionally is quite normal for me, living with Magnus, but no. We actually met some others who will cross the Atlantic with the Viking Explorers in January as will we, all being well.
Circumnavigating The Rock of Gibraltar on a bicycle before crossing the Strait.
Visiting the town of Chefchaouen. It is in the hills of NE Morocco 3 hours bus ride SE of Tangier. Much of the town is painted blue; the reason for which may be to deter mozzies, among other theories. The blue symbolises the sky and heaven, and serves as a reminder to lead a spiritual life. Simply stunning!
Visiting The Caves of Hercules, where the Greek God reputedly rested during his labours. The entrance to the caves is the shape of Africa!
Becoming familiar with the many interestIng places in Tangier’s Médina.
Meeting friendly, relaxed, experienced long term cruisers, willing to share their experiences, tips and a glass of wine. We have learned a lot, and met people who will share our journey south, and then across the Atlantic. As a bonus, we have had shared meals, day jaunts, supermarket trips….all the more enjoyable in good company.
Our ongoing power problem. Our brand new, top of the range wind generator appears to actually DRAIN our batteries…. aaarghh! Even the clever Swedish engineer Captain has lost some hair and sleep over this!!
THINKING we had engine failure in the middle of the traffic lane in Gibratar Strait! What we thought was the “engine off” noise was actually the newly installed AIS alarm, which unfortunately has exactly the same sound as the engine alarm! Several more grey hairs…. not to mention a defibrilated heart for the Captain!
Google mapping it around the medina in a remote Moroccan village – a little hit and miss as you can imagine! But all the richer for the dead ends, suggestions from locals, wild gestures, offers of assistance, you get the picture!
Food and Bevvy Highlights:
Pot luck group dinner to farewell to our new friends Paul and Lori. Delicious lamb tagine, curry, bbq pork, bread, dips…. perfect!
Beef Tagine complete with prunes
Moroccan crepes, kind of like roti? Delish, buttery, moreish, and obviously low fat 🙄
Khobz – round flattish bread with an almost brioche interior, and a sprinkling of crunchy semolina on top! We ate it compulsively like one would wolf down a fresh white knot roll from the bakery, slathered in butter. Clearly NOT low fat…
Tuna cerveche – recipe and fresh tuna provided by a French crew with an excess from a big catch; zesty, light and tasty. (and quite possibly better for our health than the crepes/khobz…)
Mint tea – fresh mint and chinese green gunpowder tea apparently, with lots of sugar, served in a glass. The higher it is poured from the better; it seems.
Taco, but not as we knew it! From a street stall, a soft roti/crepe STUFFED with a delicious chicken filling like we have never had before. When we asked the cook what this treat was (in sign language obviously, as neither Arabic or French are our strong suits!) he said “taco” – duh, of course!! This shoe sized taco must rank among the best we have had!
Incredible fresh produce from the souks/ markets. Fish, meat, dairy of all sorts, heavenly fruit and veggies….(we washed these with a vengeance… I am a little nervous about contracting something nasty here!)
SPICES! I loved buying spices from huge hessian sacks lined up in shops; the rich aromas and vibrant colours were truly intoxicating. And of course there is some fun in not being entirely sure what you are buying, and having to find out one way or another!
Wind generator taken down, put up, cajoled….etc
AIS alarm installed
More flyscreens produced
Hatch repair number 7 and counting….
The film “Casablanca” is reputedly actually about Tangier, but for mysterious reasons was named after the more southern town instead ?
The aqua blue taxis here are this colour as a reflection of the sea.
Some believe that it was the footstep of Hercules that forged the divide between Europé and Africa, resulting in the Strait of Gibraltar, who knew?
Well! We almost met some YouTube superstars and Magnus wore the pavement thin in front of their boat as he walked past at increasingly frequent intervals in case they were on deck to say hello to. Unfortunately not.. And as far as rocks go, Gibraltar is a good one to be on, and the rocks north west of Malaga are not too shabby either.
Some new experiences included:
Seeing a boat that we follow on Youtube in REAL LIFE! We saw Polar Seal, but unfortunately not its Captain or crew. (Although Magnus thinks he spotted the first mate huddled incognito under a cap at a bar, hoovering up the wifi, no doubt uploading Youtube videos that we will soon watch)
Cycling across an international runway, while migrating briefly to another country for dinner!! Gibraltar International Airport’s runway is built out into the sea, and to enter or leave the British Territory from Spain, you have to cross the runway as boom gates permit, just as we usually cross a train track. As you do.
Doing two incredible rocky walks – El Caminito del Rey, and scaling the Rock of Gibraltar! (serendipitously, we were on Gibraltar on the day I turned 51)
Steering Almazul by hand for more than 24 hours.
Meeting another friendly Aussie who is attempting to document some fun travels.
Walking El Caminito del Rey. I have been looking longingly at this walk since 2013, in a book called “1000 walks to do before you die” and so at 51, am glad to have another one ticked off! It is a one meter wide walkway along a narrow gorge near Malaga in Spain, and was known as the world’s most dangerous walk until its repair and reopening in 2015. (disrepair claimed 5 lives in about 2000) Its purpose was to service local hydroelectric plants, and it once bore the footsteps of King Alfonso XIII hence its name;”The King’s little path”
Seeing, breathing in, and climbing the Rock of Gibraltar. I remain incredibly impressed by this iconic monolith…. especially for an Aussie who has not seen seen Uluru…and have taken far too many photos. As we approached from the east by sea I was like a kid at Christmas time, and still feel like that as I look at it from the boat hatch each morning.
Visiting the ancient precinct of the Alhambra near Granada. Remarkably well preserved monuments from another time abound – some shrouded in that peculiar damp smell that shaded ferns and ancient stone exude. The hardy olive trees nearby growing under the harsh sun only exaggerate the softness of the ancient city I think… that’s Spain I guess. As an aside, I was especially taken with fine herringbone patterned footpaths, made from carefully sourced pebbles, placed meticulously side by side 1210 years ago.
Autopilot intermittent and then complete failure, near the beginning of a 24 hour hop from Almerimar to Gibraltar. Good practice for manual night steering though.
Straining repeatedly unsuccessfully to join a bubbling conversation with my family in Oz. Internet is a blessing – but sometimes raises our expectations unrealistically. 😮
The monkeys on Gibraltar! We were delighted, curious and wary, but then I almost stepped on one, oops! When I noticed (oh pardon me!) and moved politely away, he followed me! I know, don’t run.. Easy to say. You try it! They were all over the place, and not shy. The Barbary macaque population in Gibraltar is the only wild monkey population in Europe – and we were very happy they were out in full force when we visited. 🙂
Seeing very British sights very far from the UK. English bobbies, red post boxes, Marks and Spencer, cobbled streets and very English pubs ad infinitum…. but the traffic is still driving on the RHS. Easy to be mowed down by a speeding scooter while wafting along in a daze of familiarity. 🙄
Food and Bevvy highlights:
Absolutely smashing fish and chips at The Stumble Inn at Almerimar. The fish was honestly the size of my shoe, and well encased in light crunchy batter. The fun conversation with a remarkably beautiful and interesting 68 year old Norwegian woman whose son lives in Sydney no doubt added to the flavour.
An enormous golden Cornish pastie and Cornish pudding eaten on a birthday morning in the centre of Gibraltar town before tackling The Rock – just the sustenance required! The Cornish pudding was completely new to me – a kind of moist apple blueberry rhubarb baked flattish slice/bread and butter pudding thing, with some white chocolate thrown in for good measure? Pleasing to the eye and the palette, but otherwise a mystery.
A crisp thirst quenching birthday Prosecco after a VERY big climb and quite a stressful day dodging monkeys! I was expecting Cava, a Spanish variety of sparkling white wine (now I know about it!) – but no, of course we had an Italian variety in a British Territory south of Spain. Duh!
Autopilot, autopilot, autopilot! Taken apart – of course everything appears in working order, despite the fact that clearly IS NOT. TBC no doubt.
Activated our Garmin in reach satellite communication tool, and established contact with Magnus’s friend and expert weather advisor; Anna.