Starting with mountains

Things I forgot to mention yesterday!
*I won a small photo contest in the Bicycle Touring group on facebook. Theme: Freedom, prize: The picture will be used as cover page for one month!

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*My light switch didn’t really work yesterday, and while they were buying a new one, I had it like this for a time. Also, they don’t turn off the electricity while fiddleing with it (“This is Africa!”).

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I headed out to buy breakfast, and then packed my stuff. At 1015 I started, with the hardest thing being getting out of the city. By using my compass and asking people, I managed. GPS really simplifies things!
I started biking, and the uphill were not steep at all. I had no problems keeping 20 km/h, even though I gained altitude. I saw a photographer on the way, headed in the same direction but by car, who took some shots of me when he got the chance. I stayed and talked with him, and he told me I could get the pictures later!

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Walking away like a badass

I took lunch after 30 kilometres, and on the way I had taken some nice photos. I also used my home-made bicycle stand, just putting my walking pole as a stand.

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The wind was strong, so the clouds were rolling over

I got up to 650 metres, without it being too steep. As Chefchaouen would be at 590 metres, there were two alternatives: more or less flat, or downhill with a big ass uphill in the end. You can guess which one…

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300 steep height metres

It took an hour, with really steep road, but I managed to get up. Asking around, I got in the right direction for the hotel Veigar had told me about. Close to the top I saw a man with a nice hat!

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After some steep biking in the medina, I got to the hotel. They only had the terrace rooms available for 100 dirham, but I took it. It was a nice view at least!

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After eating some more, I went out to discover the place.

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I bought pretty much of this in Tetouan

I bought some bananas and a baguette with omelette and french-fries in it (weird but good) while looking for some wifi. A cyber cafe cost 10 for one hour, so I bought dinner for 30 at a restaurant with wifi instead.
After that, I went home and fell asleep by eight o’clock.

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The small mat I bought…

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…and the big one, but I am not going to unfold that one!

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First sightseeing day in Morocco

I went out for breakfast, and bought some round bread and some triangle-things with chicken in it. Delicious!
After walking around for a while, I found a tea cafe with wifi, so I stayed there for a while. I met a middle-aged guy who started speaking with me, and treated me a glass of orange juice. Mfodal also showed me around for a bit, and I don’t think he wanted money from me, but was a nice guy. Not that I can know, as I am pretty paranoid about that as a tourist.
On the way to the hotel, a friend of his started talking to him, and he was on his way to a big market. I followed him, Ahmed, and this guy was more of a false-guide. He told me he would do this without wanting to get paid, and he showed me some nice places.

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He took me to a top, which I admittedly wouldn’t have found without his help, and took some pictures.

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He also showed me a tannery, where a guy seemed angry about the photos,

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and a place where they were crafting things from the leather.

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Then, he showed me an old place, I think it was Berber. What I didn’t know was that I was led right into a carpet-seller.

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They view was free!

He started showing me carpets, of course after treating me tea, and I was trapped. They were beautiful, and I ended up buying two. Of course his starting price were pretty high, probably because of white-tourist-Sweden, but I got it down to about 1/5, and more importantly, to a price which I think was fair (500 Dirhams, about 425 Swedish) for one small mat, and one big (3×2 metres or something) kind of carpet-something. I can’t really feel tricked about this, so I guess it was a good price for me. The only thing I regret is that I should have done this in the end of the trip, now I will have to bike with those for a month!
Also, the whole experience was really cool, actually, so I don’t mind.
When I came down, Ahmed was waiting for me. I was pretty tired, so I went back to the hotel (he wanted me to look at other stuff, spices for example, but I felt that I shouldn’t buy anything right then). He asked for a tip, but when I said no, he didn’t get angry or anything (he actually said no money in the beginning).

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I think this is the entrance to a children’s mosque.

I went out again a bit later to shop for food, and also found more cool places to take pictures of. There were another guy starting to talk with me, who if course wanted to show me things. I was headed the same way, so couldn’t really get from him. He asked for money for his autistic son (that was probably true, his son were with him) but I said no, and went in another direction. Now, I had no clue about where I was, but I had time.
On my way walking around I found a market which I had biked past the first day.

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I also saw those nice colours, which are used for colouring the building, as I understood it.

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After asking around a bit here and there, I finally found my way back to the royal palace.

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My hotel is close to the palace, and I was in time for tea!
Also, they had fixed the wifi, so I could start uploading pictures and all that stuff again.

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The alley

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The entrance

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People in the main room smoking stuff

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Roof in main room

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Some old wall, or something

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My room to the left

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My room

It was small and cheap, and I really liked the people working there! The quality was so-so, but as Nordin, one of the guys working there said, “This is Africa!”

New continent – Africa!

After breakfast and packing, I had one more thing to do. As I don’t think Africa will be as open minded as earlier countries, I removed some nail polish from my toes. Apparently, mosquito repellent works as a remover!

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I started biking in good time for the 1330 ferry. The ride to Algeciras went smooth, and I stopped at a ticket seller to see the price with my bike. The price was good, and it was an open ticket, with departures every second hour or so. The next ferry would be one hour earlier than the planned one, but I figured I could do it!
I want to buy some food, but the first store, Dia, has a limit of 12 euro for using cards, and I don’t want to withdraw more money when I am going to change currency. I find a Lidl on my GPS and go there instead. The time is now 1210, and I can make it!
I put all energy I have into my bike, and after asking around, I get to the right place. The clock is actually 1230, but luckily, the ferry is delayed. I had to wait until 1300, but I didn’t mind, as I didn’t have to wait for the next one!

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My ferry is here!

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This badass went on another ferry

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Onto the ferry!

The ferry went well, and I made some cold food during the short trip (couscous with oil and mozzarella) and watched series.

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Goodbye Europe!

When I came into Ceuta (which is still Spain) I started with buying a map, as my phone-GPS did not have maps for North Africa. I bought the Michelin 742, and it seems pretty good (even if the quality could be better, but it is made for use in cars). Then, I headed to Morocco!
I was really nervous at the border. There were people throwing things over fences,and it looked kind off scary for the people walking over.

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Soon, I passed the Spanish part, and headed for Morocco. On the way in between, I saw some smuggling, I am pretty sure of. The police were checking the first cars of two, and one of the guys started scream-talk with the police. In the meantime, the guys from car two popped the hood, took two pretty big bags and one of the guys ran away with them.
I got to the passport control, and after filling some paper, he asked some questions, and let me in. I headed towards the last gate, and they checked for the stamps, and I was ready to go!
I started with biking away from the masses of people, so that I could relax a bit.

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Goodbye Ceuta/Spain!

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Hello Africa!

I then headed for Tetouan, and I thought it was already a bit late, but I wasn’t sure about the time in Morocco.
One the way, I saw the purple off road car again, and I also saw this in a roundabout!

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At one part, some kids with a football kicked it at my bike, twice. I ignored them, and continued, and hoped that the prejudices would not be true after all I heard from other travellers.
When I came to Tetouan, I had a few problems. The first, I didn’t have an address, map of the city or anything. The second, I tried to withdraw money, but couldn’t. I hadn’t opened my card for Africa!
I started searching for wifi, and found one after a while. I opened the card, and looked for the address, which was only two kilometres away. I went there, and found the hotel fairly easy (not easy at all, but I didn’t have to go in circles). I put my stuff in the room and start relaxing a bit. They treat me tea, which tastes awesome, and then I take a shower. Then, it is exploring time!
I put a pinpoint at the hotel, if I would get lost. I start wandering along a pretty big street until I see a place which looks good enough. I buy some chicken, french fries and rice (didn’t know what I ordered more than chicken) and it cost me just 25 dirham (I thought it was 40). I was also suspicious that the bread were not included, but it was. (25 dirham is 22 SEK, or 2.5 euro). Cheap, big, and good!
On the way home, I bought half a kilo of dates, which was also cheap. Good energy stuff!
When I was back, it was time for fore tea, and I got to meet another guy staying at the place, Veigar, from Norway. We went out to a place he knew had wifi, which sadly worked bad, and then went for a second dinner at some small restaurant (soup) , but I was so full I could only eat half of it.
Back to the hotel, more tea, more talking and finally go I sleep.
Even if many tries to hassle you as a tourist, speak with you, show you something, my impression so far is that Morocco is really nice!

Fixing the bike

After more pancakes for breakfast, I fixed my flat. I put my tire inside out, and found another of those metal things I had earlier, which I think I should have seen earlier.
After a new tube I went to La Linea for some shopping. 26 kilometres and 340 metres of climbing, but without luggage, it went fairly fast! It felt a little bit cold, though.
Back home, I put some GPS coordinates in my GPS and planned more for where I would go and so on. I got a tip from Martina and Michael to visit Hotel Africa in Tetouan, and as it was only 40 kilometres from Ceuta, it should be doable.
Martina made homemade hamburgers for dinner, which were really awesome, but too big to eat by hand. A real hamburger!

Gibraltar!

We woke up at seven as Martina and Michael were going to work.

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I followed them as they work in Gibraltar and that gave me a chance to shop for what I needed and explore Gibraltar.
I started with taking the cable car to the top.

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I went by the outlook points and got a good view of Algeciras, where I will take the ferry from, and also Gibraltar+Spain.

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Then, I found a monkey!

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And more monkeys.

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And one who tried to snatch me!

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A monkey started climbing up at my head when I was ten years old. Now, I fled.

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I then took the bus to the south point of Gibraltar, the European point. I bought some ice cream and took a look around. I think this may be the biggest mosque in Europe.

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Then, it was shopping time. I did not find a good book I wanted in the small book store, but I found some postcard in another store (which was easy).
I went by a bike shop to buy some tubes and then went back to the car.

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This is actually the first border crossing where I had to show my passport.

After waiting a bit at the beach with some coca-cola first Martina appeared, and a bit later Michael. We went home, and I fell asleep two hours on the sofa, to be woken up by more pizza and soup made. Yummy!

Time for pancakes!

I made breakfast which, of course, was pancakes.

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We then went to Tarifa, where we got a view over Morocco. We were on the beach for a couple of minutes but the wind was too strong, so it was like a small sandstorm.

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We walked out to the most South part of Europe, and on the way out we stopped and watches the skilled kite surfers.

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On our way home we stopped by at a looking point and got some pictures of Morocco.

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That is Morocco in the background!

Home again, we ate home made pizza, which was nice but a little bit too strong.
In the evening we went into La Linea to a small tapas bar we ate really wonderful epic nice meat. It was too awesome!

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We went by another tapas bar and then went back home.

A really good paella

After breakfast, we were headed to a market in La Linea. We went by Gibraltar for fuel, so that was my first fifteen minutes there!

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Gibraltar from a distance

We went to the market, where most of the non-fish seafood were alive. Talk about fresh!

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On the way from the market we bought something deep-fried which we ate with chocolate when we came home. We also went by a supermarket I pick up some other food.
We went by the beach for a couple of hours, and maybe my tan will get a little bit more even.
Back home, a really good paella was made, with really good fresh seafood, among others Kalamari.

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The paella tasted really awesome!

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It can always get worse!

The puncture has gotten worse during my last kilometre yesterday. Now, the air wouldn’t stay for more than a couple of seconds, but that also gave me the chance to find the flat! I put a repair patch on it, as that would also reinforce the rubber, and maybe hold up for the whole day. After fixing that, I started just an hour late. It was already warm, though, and I started with a 250 metre steep climb…
It felt so sucky, and my legs were so tired after five days of biking. There and then, I thought about hitching a ride, and I broke down in tears for a little while. I am bad at giving up, though, and continued upward.
Of course, everything felt better when up. This was the last day, and going to the coast, all the height metres would be given back. I went down for a short while, up a little more and took a break at a looking point.
There, I met a German pair who were really nice. I spoke with them for a while, and then continued.
I stopped counting height metres, and just pushed on through small village after village. Even if the uphill were still really bad sometimes, I could see the kilometres count down, and I saw an end, a rest!

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I thought it was a mountain of Morocco, but later learnt that it was Gibraltar I saw!

After one village, I had two ways to choose from. I took my chances, and I will not know if it was the best one. I went down pretty quick to 90 metres, and then had to climb up to 450 again. Even though, I had less than 40 kilometres left, and just continued. A racer bicyclist helped me with choosing the most flat at the next place, and suddenly I was at the coast!
After buying some crisps to have something to eat, I continued. Now, it was really flat, and I got tailwind. The kilometres started dropping even faster! I went through some areas I am not sure if I am allowed to, as there were gates for the cars (but I went over the grass). It was the rich part, and suddenly my GPS had led me into a golf course. After biking through an “employees only” area, I was met by a gate only people living there could open. No one was there, so after a small pause I had to go back. Hate to break this rule!
From 7 I went up to 10 kilometres left. Then, when I was going out of the golf course, the other gate was closed… Trapped on a golf course?!
I spoke with some people living there and got let out.
On my new way I met a biker I talked a bit with, and it helped me push through some uphills. He told me about the way where I was going, with one big and one small hill left, and less than five kilometres!
After pushing through it, and some trouble finding the place, I was now in Martina’s and Michael’s apartment. I met them two months ago on the Paris Rendevouz, and Martina had read my blog and offered to host me. I was now really dead in my whole body, but a really good dinner helped cure that!

Really crappy roads – no rest for me

During the night I got Mosquitos in the tent, probably when I went to the toilet. As they woke me up, I tried to get as many out as possible before killing the few left (I got seven of them).
And the morning started with a flat.
As it was a slowly one (all the air had yet to get out of the tube) I made the decision to take my chances and just pump it up. I ate breakfast and packed my stuff, and found this “small” one sitting on the tent.

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It was another hilly day, as South of Spain apparently is. After refilling air and water I continued biking, with a couple of hundred meters up, a couple of hundred down and then repeat. One part was hellish, as there were more than 7%, and no asphalt. I had problems with traction, but I did not give up, and after a couple of hours I were through it. At least I got some more good views!

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The downhill were not to enjoy, though, as the roads still sucked.
At a petrol station I bought candy and nuts as I needed more energy. The air cost money, though, so I continued adding some air by hand every second hour.
There were more hills, and from the start at 404 meters, the highest point I passed was 887 meters. I probably ascended more than the total of 850 metres I got numbers on, a and it was hard, but I got closer and closer to the south coast, so sometime I have to get it back!

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I passed through many high mountain villages during these days.

I was going to refill my water from a fountain a man said was drinkable, but a woman gave me 1,5 litre instead, and the taste difference were big, so I didn’t mind!
I bought more food in Ronda and refilled my stock of small energy. I got some wifi from a McDonalds and checked out the camping just south of Ronda. It seemed reasonable prices at ten euro, and I would be able to have a shower.
I went there, and apparently the price on the website were wrong. I didn’t really have the energy to argue (it was eight and dark) and at least the staff were nice. After eating my dinner, I went to the restaurant to use their wifi, and bought a plate of spaghetti carbonara as a second dinner. I am happy I did that, because tomorrow would be hard!

The day that started shitty

I woke up, made breakfast and packed my stuff. So far, so good.

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The problems were not before I saw that I apparently had a flat. I search for the hole, and any scrap in the tire, for a total of 30 minutes, without finding anything. Some road bikers stop, one who gave me some repair patches and “rubber cement”, and one who could help me plan the rest of my day.
When putting the wheel back, I managed to get the brake pads to hop loose, so I also got to learn how to insert those.
I got enough air in the tube to get to the petrol station a couple of kilometres away, where I put in more air and also bought two baguettes for an euro. After a high climb through the city, I could start biking, and at twelve I had managed 5 kilometres in total, far behind the schedule.
It started slow, with head wind and roads in pretty bad shape. I felt that this day sucked and wondered if I would even manage 80 kilometres. Then, at an intersection, I was turning right, and suddenly I had tailwind and good roads. Now I rolled really fast!
Suddenly, I got 150 meter height to take, and it was around 30 degrees. I pushed through it, and finally on the top, went into a petrol station to refill water, use the toilet and buy some ice cream. As it was time for lunch, I found a place in the shadow, and ate one of the baguettes.

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My last honey!

It went down, until the next city, where it went uphill again, until at 385 metres. I found a Lidl with some free wifi outside it, so I bought some food for dinner and for the next day.
In the next town I found another Lidl where I bought snickers. It was getting late so I needed a place to stay at, and started looking. I found a petrol station at the intersection between my road and the highway, and asked if I could pitch my tent there. No problem, and there were a water tap on the outside. No wifi though, but there were a 24-hour restaurant nearby, where I went and asked for wifi. No problem, and I talked a bit with them. After taking a look at the menu, I decided to eat some “real food” instead, and I am happy for that! It was really much, to a pretty low price. I also asked if they had a shower, wish they had, and they told me I could use it for free because I was “an adventurer”!

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Yummy!

I also asked for a table with a power outlet, so they got me a cable from the outlet to the table. Not a small one, but the ones you usually see at construction sites. The people really were nice and even if the day started shitty, at least it ended really well!