Chefchaouen

 December 15. – December 24.

Wow, its hard to believe it is Christmas already and I am here for 10 days now! Chefchaouen is amazing. The sun, the clouds (sometimes), THE ROAD, the landscape, the city,……… It really feels a little like Pushkar here only thing I miss a lot is Gopals chaishop. Daytime temperature is around 20° and fine. I make motorcycle tours nearly every afternoon which is pure joy on roads and in a landscape like this. Its pretty crazy that there are drug dealers at every corner who whistle at me and wave their hands. When I stop for coffee, food or taking pictures they are not really annoying after I explain I am here for enjoying the road and the sun… In the mornings I take my guitar and sit and two cafes in the sun (around 9 the first place becomes shady so I move to another café). People who pass by and sit around me appreciate my music and the show it – by smiling at me, clapping their hands or even telling me in the most unexpected moments. Like yesterday an old naked guy in the hamam…. It’s hard for me not to love this place even though I can see a lot of the shady sides too – they are not as well hidden as they are in Pushkar. However I will stay here for some more time as I haven’t seen all the surrounding roads yet.

Europe – Africa

 

December 14. 2013

Km today: 120 +15 on the ferry

N36°07’40” W005°26’42” – 35°10’10” W005°15’53”

 

Today is the day! Today we will cross over to Africa! And the weather seems to kick us out of Europe – its stormy, cold and the sky is full of dark clouds. We sleep long which is good after the exhausting last two days and go to have chai at our Pakistani friend in the morning. The ticket is around 100 Euro for two Persons and the bike which seems pretty expensive. After bargaining and running around for an hour we get one for 100 and save around 5 euro. We then get petrol and ride around in the harbor searching the ferry for about quarter an hour before finding it. The ferryride offers amazing views of Gibraltar and a stormy sea. Its not really quiet and you can see the upset sea in the eyes of many people. At the very end of the ferry where it goes up and down like on a roller coaster people stand and smoke hashish openly while I try to get a grip and take some pictures.

We get of the ferry in Ceuta which still is Spain and cross the border a few kilometers after leaving the ferry. At the border there is a long queue of cars so I stop at its end. After 15 minutes I recognize the queue being somehow Indian style… I start the engine and go to the front. Spanish side is quickly and on the Morrocan side we get caught by two “guides”. This guys I always meet at foreign borders, for a few Euro they would help you through the border ceremony and I believe its worth it. Anyway I had to stand in another queue at a fish tank office for about an hour to get my stamp for the motorbike while the last rays of the sun disappeared.

After crossing the border the road is new, full of light, two lanes, a speed limit nobody takes care of… No problem to go the 100km to Chefchaouen even at night. But  after 50km the road changes becoming an amazing motorbike road. Mountains to the left and right, amazing curves, little traffic and a lot of police checkpoints.

Arriving in Chefchaouen we try to get directly to the center. Going wrong direction down a one way a guy in a yellow traffic jacked stops us, and shows us a place to park, to eat and to sleep. Hospitaly here is amazing and people still stay friendly (or become even more friendly) when they realize I am here for touring the mountains on the motorbike and not to buy the drugs this area is famous for too. We get a real nice room in an amazing traditionel Haveli for a real fair price – Mint tea, roof top and wifi included – even the surrounding mountains remind me of Pushkar. After check in we want to take a little walk but Abdullah is already waiting for us to take us to his families restaurant and we get traditional Morrocan Tajine! After going back to the hotel we fall asleep quickly as we are very tired even though we did only few kilometers today. However this is the first target, and an amazing one too! We sleep long the next morning and then enjoy mint tea in the hot sun on the rooftop. I get shaved when I go to change some money and find out they have hamam and guglhupf here! I buy some Guglhupf and go back to our sunny rooftop to finish the blog. Morroco is great so far and I can’t wait to see it closer!

Costa Blanca – Costa del Sol

 

Friday, December 13. 2013

Km today: 640

Maximum altitude today: 1380m (freezing cold but beautiful)

N38°20’30.5” W000°29’15” – N36°07’40” W005°26’42”

Today I will meet a friend in Malaga in the afternoon so I have to hurry up. Julia comes from Vienna and will spend the first week in Marocco with me. I wake up half an hour late so the morning start a little unperfect already. When I go down to pack the bike I recognize they put it a little different by lifting it up… The tail is a little on the street now and a car is parked to close to lift it from the side stand. Osman and his mother are not here so without any need I get totally upset and don’t calm down before I hear a strange noise 5 minutes after leaving the hotel.

I stop and for a second start thinking about what to do in case of an engine problem. I recognize oil and water being very low and stop at the next petrol station to get water and some petrol. There is a lot of customers at the petrol station so I decide to put the water when I stop for coffee – as soon as possible… 20km later I am 5km of my way and still no coffee in sight. In this worst case scenario I stop at a burger king. First I put water in the cooler and next I find out burger king is closed until noon…I go back to the road to Malaga passing a bike work shop and seeing a coffee just 1km later. I stop at the bar (=coffee) and the first thing I see is the open cooler! I forgot to close it again and lost the cap! So back to burger king to search for the cap without any success.

I remember the bike workshop and decide to go there and ask for oil too. On the way there a green Aprilia street fighter passes and the driver shows me his raised thumb. Two minutes later I shake the hand of the isle of man champion Javier Manresa and the Spanish mechanic of the year 2013. Oil is refilled and I get the cooler cap from a super duke out of a workshop full of crazy racing bikes! Whenever any of you has a problem with a bike near Alicante go to Motos RS Evolution in Elche or call 965 46 66 92. I spend too much time chatting with the guys so I have to hurry up to get to Malaga if I really want to arrive in Algeciras, the place where to take the ferry, tonight.

Still without coffee I decide to take all the way to Malaga, nearly 500km, with one break for petrol and coffee only. The break in the middle of the way I take at half past 12 up in the mountains near Sierra Nevada sitting in a freezing wind and the gentle warmth of the sun. Nearly back in time! Even though I make much more stops for taking pictures of the amazing landscape now I arrive in time at half past three in Malaga. Julia is already waiting there at a restaurant I picked at the internet so we can go on pretty quickly.

From now on for the first time of the day we ride along the cost following the setting sun heading west to Gibraltar. The view is absolutely amazing even though all is full of tourist ghettos and a little after sunset we see the rock of Gibraltar for the first time rising at the horizon. It looks absolutely fantastic!

Algeciras we reach a little later and searching for a hotel we stop at the harbor. There are two hotels visible from the street and a view food shops so I park the bike next to a table of a “Pakistani Kebab Restaurant” Again Urdu proves to be better than Spanish. I make friends with the waiter immediately and order coffee while Julia checks out the hotels around. A little later we check in a nice hostel with a reasonable price and a garage for the bike.

Algeciras reminds me a little of Peshawar or Quetta, it’s a crazy border town that never sleeps – I really appreciate not to need to worry about the bike tonight! After check in we go back to the Pakistani restaurant to eat there. It’s a fast food restaurant and half joking I ask for real Pakistani food. My friend looks at me doubting if I am serious for a second and then replies that for us this will be no problem – only will take a little time because he will cook himself and quickly has to go to buy the ingredients before. We use the time going to the supermarket and sometime later don’t regret our decision. We get chicken, roti and rice just like I got in Peshawar! I really love this place and its late already when we take pictures with our new friends and walk back to the hotel. I am extremely tired now but still want to do the blog as so many amazing things happened today… By the way we got a room with four beds inside and next to every single bed a f%&king ashtray! Are we still in Europe?

Tomorrow we will cross over to Africa and then it will be only around 120km to Chefchaouen where I will find a perfect base for motorcycle tours to the mountains of Morocco. I can’t wait to get a place to stay for some time now.

 

Costa Brava – Costa Blanca

 December 12. 2013

Km today: 630

N41°22’22” E002°09’33” – N38°20’30.5” W000°29’15”

I wake up in time and all is ready packed so I quickly go for a coffee with rocky to say good bye without waking the others (the most was 8 people sleeping in the 50 m2 flat while I was there – but no problem at all, rather cosy and full of love). Still when packing the bike everybody opened the eyes for a moment to say good bye. Thank you all, I really enjoyed meeting you! And thank you Gudny for the contact! I leave Barcelona a little after sunrise at 8:30. The landscape is amazingly beautiful and once again there are tears rolling down my face because of happiness caused by the the beauty and the love surrounding me.

Climbing some hills it becomes pretty cold above an altitude of 500 when riding in the middle of some clouds (I go up to 800 twice today). Everything is covered with rime and I really start freezing.

A little later, around 12 o clock I arrive at the delta of the river Ebro which is much smaller than I expected. Calling this a big river is a little ridiculous…  But this means I already did 240km which is pretty good. I avoid toll roads and it is crazy to see that spain obviously has (at least here) two highways! One for rich people charging 10c/km and one for free! The choice is easy and after climbing up to a little less freezing 800m a second time I arrive in Alicante around half past four – an hour before sunset!

More and more local motorcyclists start greeting me with a thumb up when they see where I come from. At Alicante I go straight to the best western hotel I had choosen at the internet. Online it looked like a nice hotel and it said balcony and bath for 17,55 euro! But when I arrive there it does not look nice at all and they want to charge 39 euro instead of 17…. They offer 35 and I go and get a coffee. The barkeeper wants to take a picture of him the bike and me so I take the chance and ask for a cheap hotel. He sends me somewhere, I lose the way and try what the gps has to offer… It offers two categories…. Hotels and hostel I try hostels as I guess these are the cheaper ones and the first one in the list is called hotel Santa Ana. My only true loves name was Santana so I go there without any doubt.

At the counter I meet Oman, a young African guy and when I tell him where I am going he is immediately ready to give me a room for 20 euros – including bath and balcony! When his mother comes he tells her about me and she invites me for coffee and some amazing African food! I am sooo lucky! And the name actually is Santa Lucia hostel – my gps made a strange mistake to make sure I come here….After taking a little walk to buy some candles and foam to have a nice bath I come back and sit in hot water for nearly an hour! Soooo nice!

 

Barcelona III

December 10.&11.

I have to wait one day more than expectd for the new chain for the bike. I take some walks and a ride through town on the second day. Not so much happening but some nice pictures….

Barcelona II

 Dec. 9. 2013

Today is a funny day. First I find a mechanic around the corner (first working day since I am here) who can change chain and back tyre. Both are really finished and I take the chance to buy a heavy chain to lock the bike too. Even though Barcelona seems to be much safer  than Marseille I am happy to be able to lock it properly. The mechanic promises to get all he needs until tomorrow so I go to the club in the afternoon.

When I come back in the evening I have to pull the bike back up a little and to do so I have to get down. While doing so I block the narrow street for a few seconds and suddenly to cops jump on me…. Smilingly. They help me to put the bike on the bike park and then say good bye still smiling. Being dressed like the last hippie standing I am really surprised. I wonder if things like this (will) ever happen in Austria.

In the evening I make around two kg Apfelradel for everybody and they are eaten nearly before I am finished making them. Success, they love them!

Barcelona

 December 7 & 8

Ok, first in the morning I prove I am a complete idiot! We are all together 6 people in the flat and 4 have been out until morning. I wake up and manage to be very quiet disturbing nobody for two hours. Then I decide to get out for a coffee. I can take a key, so no problem. Downstairs I recognize I forgot the GPS which has often been a great help on the first day in a foreign city. I go back and when I want to turn on the light in the stairway to find the keyhole I recognize it is the doorbell. Everybody is awake now and I get a coffee and breakfast from the bakery around the corner while the others wake up. I find a vegetable merchant named “Punjab” and get some ginger there being happy to be able to talk to someone in a language I know a bit. The Pakistani guy behind the counter is completely confused and just does not understand that I speak by far more Urdu than Spanish. I find the way back to the flat without ever using support of the GPS…

In the evening we go to a concert in a private smokers club. I find out making music in the street can be fined up to 300 Euro so many musicians play in private smoking clubs now. The one we are is really nice, clean and comfortable. Usually smoking is prohibited like everywhere in Europe but in private clubs it is possible so these clubs seems to become a place of culture. On the way to the club is see a Pakistani barber and get my first proper shave for half a year. On we walk passing a Pakistani quarter arriving at the club only a little later. I really enjoy the evening and stay longer than the others. I enjoy the walk back home a lot eating Samosa in a restaurant that makes me feel like in india. Tonight we are 7 people in the flat tonight and I sleep very well after falling asleep very late.

Next day we visit the gueell park where I finally find some musicians and take some amazing pictures. On the way back I split from the others again and make some detours on the way home. After sunset it’s getting cold pretty fast. In the evening we are all tired and watch music together. The last three days have been holidays here so tomorrow will be the first day for me in Barcelona with opened shops. I desperately need some chain lubricant for the bike so going to a bike supply shop will be the first thing to be done tomorrow.  

 

Cote d’Azur – Costa Brava

 December 6. 2013

N43°17’53”E005°22’07” – N41°22’22” E002°09’33”

Km today: 760

What a day! I wake up a little past 6am as I want to catch the flamingos in the Camargue if possible at sunrise. When I leave Marseille the sun is already rising but its still to early too cross the river Rhone on the ferry which would make a good shortcut. I have to go north to Arles to the bridge and the south again around 80km up and down along the river. A little before Arles, around 50km after Marseille I recognize I forgot my cellphone. Damn! Turn round, go back… When I ride direction camargue again the ferry should be working (said the internet). It is not! So back again to Arles after another 15km detour to find out that the ferry is out of order. I pass the camargue pretty quickly making only one stop to see the flamingos – and they are really extremely amazing!

Only making a stop for petrol I take the fastest way to the border then. There is Mistral all the way which makes the ride cold and unbalanced. Yesterday I spotted an amazing road at the border from france to spain – seemed like a lot of amazing curves exactly where the Pyrenees meet the sea. I really make it to do this road in the last light of the day and it’s even more amazing than it looked like! Only this road was worth coming all the way. After this road it’s completely dark so I move back to the highway and go to Barcelona as fast as possible. The shortest way including the camargue would have been around 550km but including all the detours I managed to take 760km from Marseille to Spain. I arrive at friends of a close friend around nine and all is perfect in the second I arrive. In the evening we quickly make a little music and a walk around their place. I feel really welcome with Rocky and his friends! Spanish is completely new and I wonder how long it will take me this time to learn the most important phrases… I like Barcelona a lot and can’t wait for tomorrow!   

 

 

Marseille

December 4. 2013

Km today: 0

Ben, my host is coming pretty early and he looks like he hasn’t been sleeping all night – to many animals at his girlfriends place. By motorbike I quickly bring him to his mother and go back alone as he urgently has to do something. 20 minutes later he is back and another 20 minutes later the flat is full of his friends. We quickly get breakfast at a bakery and when I eat a croissant on the street one girl confuses me by saying “bon appétit”. After breakfast we visit a squat malking a walk through the city. Marseille is amazing! At the harbor several police cars pass by in high speed and when they are gone I can still hear their horn at the same volume. Then I realize there is a Christmas Band making music and imitating the sound of the police horn. Nice joke – anyway I feel like nobody here respect any laws or police. I like it J. At he squat I meet Nat from Australia who is playing Mandolin. She shows me a little and we make some music together before we become tired and go back home. Today I took a lot of pictures but there is not so much to tell – enjoy the view!

Monte Carlo – Marseille

 December 3. 2013

N43°44’31” E007°25’33” – N43°17’53”  E005°22’07”

Km today:287

After sleeping well I quickly pack, clean and get ready. Todays target is Marseille and I want to go along the Cote d’Azur Coast and make a stop at St. Tropez. The road reminds me a lot of turkey and Croatia before. From Monaco to Nice it’s the beautiful Croatian road with many nice curves directly at the sea. Then until Cannes is turkey – lots of empty hotels, all shops are closed and the streets are empty. St. Tropez is nice, but extincted too. But after St. Tropez there is a nice reward for the boring road from Nice. An amazing curvy road leads through nice hills. Most of it being second and third gear I rather need the first in the curves than the 4. at the straights… I’m in heaven riding into the sunset!  Even after sunset I don’t need to put on the gloves – warm enough!

I arrive in Marseille a little after 7pm and recognize I arrived in India. Marseille is the perfect opposite of Monaco. I feel home and automatically start talking hindi to the people just because it feels like being there… A friend of Inna, a girl from Russia I met in india and hosted in Austria in summer offered me a place to sleep. We like each other immediately and I totally feel like at home at his place. He offers me the whole apartment, tourist guiding and all I need at the moment! Amazing! I decide to visit the flamingoes in the camargue one day and take one day to check out Marseille.