Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Cap D'Or Tower - 20 Nov

The walk up to the Torre (Tower) on Cap D'Or (Golden Point) is one of our favourite "local" walks that we try to do as a couple on every visit to Moraira. This is partly because it is visible from our terrace, very close, does not take too long and has wonderful views of our coastline. This is one of the worst bits, the steep roads up from Portet to the start of the footpath and Rosemary pauses to get her breath back.

Once past the initial steep path it becomes a bit easier with splendid views of Portet and Moraira yacht marina against the backdrop of the Sierra Bernia Mountains. Whilst this time of year is not as colourful as spring (with masses of flowers) there are still bushes of Rosemary (!), Heather and Gorse on all sides.

Now turning right around the corner we are on the seaward side and looking northwards to Cap de la Nau, the most easterly part of the Costa Blanca. Whilst there is not a sheer drop to the sea it is still steep enough to need a good head for heights. 

Another 180 degree turn to the right and the path leads up to our objective, the Tower. By this time it is so windy that it's difficult to keep your cap on! At this time of year at this altitude the wind can be very chilly indeed.

Reaching the Tower the only shelter from the wind is at the back, sadly for us this was occupied by a Spanish courting couple (no photo!) We decided to retreat to a beach bar in Portet.

Just time on the way down for a view south towards Calpe and the Penon de Ifach also in the mist behind the towers of Benidorm.  The gathering dark clouds also had their own message for haste, this is not a good spot to get caught in a rainstorm in November.

 We had to admire the surf far below the cliff.

The rain started just as we reached the road but we were soon at the beach. Then lunch at the beach bar (inside!) at Portet to end a nice morning's walk on a changeable autumn day. By the time we were half way through lunch the sun had reappeared and the surf was sparkling.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Morocco Trip - Fes to Moraira - 12 & 13 Nov

 Having left Fes at 7.30 we had one last "pit-stop" before arriving in Tangier with an hour in hand before our 14.00 ferry sailing. Compared with Wednesday, today's journey has been excellent on much better roads.

 Our spare hour was spent eating our rolls and fruit on the beach at Tangier.

Bob and Janet, our walking friends and trip organisers, can relax too having almost got their "flock" back to the safety of Spain.

 This unusual and non-pc sight was a fitting end to our visit to Morroco.

 Our Driver, Pepe, and our "coach-minder & facilitator" Youssef say a final goodby. I could not understand why Youssef slept on the bus overnight as we had removed our luggage but the answer to my query "what could they steal?" was obvious - the Bus!!

 As we left Tangier we passed this French Cruise Liner disguised as a Tall ship.

 This Strait is very busy with Tankers, Cruise ships, Fishing boats etc and our "Jet ferry" travelled at very high speed - an exhilerating and very smooth crossing back to Spain.

 The ferry approaches Tarifa and home.
Then back to the Royal Costa at Torremolinos for a really nice dinner, a walk along the promenade and an evening of entertainment, too noisy for us but very quiet in our room and a restful night. On Saturday morning the journey home started a 9.00 and Pepe, our excellent Spanish driver, got us back to Moraira by 5.30. An interesting trip to see a whole different culture, many thanks to the organisers Bob and Janet.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Morocco Trip - Fes - 10 & 11 Nov

 Today is our long journey to Fes on "National Roads" (poorly maintained B roads!) across country and through the foothills of the Atlas Mountains. Our first stop after 3 hrs was a nice surprise with immaculate toilets and a rose garden. It was facinating to see the irrigation systems and ploughing with Donkeys alongside the road.

 By this time it had started to rain but this did not deter the villagers buying flowers in this mountain village.

 By the time we got to our last stop it was raining, foggy and cold but this did not deter Jan & Rosemary from posing by the Lion! We finally reached our hotel, the Zalagh Parc Palace at 19.00, 10 very tiring hours for us but amazing calm and skill from our spanish driver Pepe, who well deserved the round of applause

 The following morning our "rest day" (second night in Fes!) started with a tour of Fes (not Fez - that is a hat), here our party pose by the Seven Gates at the Royal Palace with our local guide Mr Haj in the centre.

 Mr Haj, a Berber not an Arab, explains about Fes and the Palace.

 David was shouted at by these soldiers for photographing the King's Palace entrance.  Perhaps HE was actually there!!

 We then visited a open air "Mosque" on a hill above Fes where Mr Haj adopted the role of teacher from the official niche.

 There was a spectacular view over the city, especially of the cloud of pollution!

 A visit to observe the production of hand crafted pottery was very interesting. 

 Then Mr Haj leads us through the Blue Gate into the Medina and the Souk.

 In the maze of narrow alleys comprising the Souk it was a good idea to keep up with Mr Haj because it would be virtually inpossible to find the way out without a guide. No maps available in Morocco!!

 David narrowly avoided a pony bite (note the teeth) as if he was to blame for this excessive load of gas bottles. Wendy & John wisely avoided the savage beast!

 Since David was, by this time, suffering from "deli-belly" he was grateful Rosemary found him a seat in the brass & copper workshop.

Mr Haj and his mates give us a song! (at a price!)

 The worshippers arriving for prayers at this local mosque perform their ritual ablutions .

 This Tannery was like a scene from an imaginary hell, or from the Middle Ages, and the smell was appalling.

 Jan and Rosemary thought that any sacrifice or pong was worthwhile to make handbags! Although they did resist the urge to buy, well done for two handbag-aholics!

Final visit to a hand weaving shop before our returning to the hotel for a well earned rest.  Back to Tangier tomorrow for our ferry trip back to Spain.

Morocco Trip - Marrakech Tour - 9 Nov

 By 16.00 we were off again, the bus took us from our Hotel, the Atlas Asni, to tour a palace in Marrakech. The part we visited had been restored with beautiful tiled floors, decorative plasterwork and a courtyard garden with mirrors.  David could not resisted photographing the photographer!

 We were informed that this area was the Harem for the Vizir's 4 wives and 24 concubines - one for each day of the month! We all seem to find this very amusing. Then off to the Square.

This is the famous "Djemma el Fna" square where the "action" is, snake charmers, falcons, dancers and musicians were you are expected to pay for taking a photo!

 We admired the heaps of fruit, dried fruit and fruit juices. Note the tightly clutched handbag in the "security" grip!

 We did not try the very tempting outdoor restaurants because we were warned of the possible dire (!)consequences.
 Then on into the maze of the Souk and trying to keep up with our guide.

 This maze of alleys was very crowded with people, donkeys and rough carts - a Health & Safety nightmare

 The Square at night was very vibrant but also a bit overwhelming.

 So time for a mint tea (or two) in a balcony cafe before the bus collected us at 19.00 and back to the Hotel for dinner.  The best day so far but leaving at 9.00 tomorrow for the 500kms (313miles) to Fes  

Monday, 22 November 2010

Morocco Trip - Casablanca to Marrakech - 9 Nov

We left the hotel at 8.30 this morning to visit the "Hassan II Mosque".This was built on a platform out into the Atlantic from 1987 to 1993 as a tourist attraction in a country where non-muslims are not normally allowed to enter any other mosque. We were charged €12 each for this privilege (locals only €6!) although some of our party felt this was poor value and declined.

We were told that the Mosque would accomodate 25,000 worshippers inside, 20,000 outside and has a sliding roof and underfloor heating.  The sumptuous interior contrasted with the obvious poverty outside!

 There are 41 marble fountains for the faithful to perform the required ablutions before prayers.

 The gardens and fountains were beautiful in a very spectacular site
 At 10.00 a  quick rest on the sea wall with Jan & Paul and we were ready for the bus journey to Marrakech.

 We travelled on the motorway (as we did yesterday) arriving at 15.00 at our Hotel the "Atlas Asni" to check-in and freshen-up. Marrakesh looks like the Morocco we expected, all buildings sand coloured.

Just time for a cup of mint tea before we set off to explore Marrakech.