Larache to Kenitra. Lifeday 25,319

Must be a village soon

Must be a village soon

The weather forecast  yesterday was so, so right 🙁 I awoke to very wet roads a very threatening sky and a wind that was going to be in my face all day long and a very long day at that.

The breakfast at the neighbouring cafe was excellent 2 fried eggs, bread, coffee, orange juice and a small pudding all for less than £1 🙂

I finally hit the road at 8.11 a whole hour after sunrise, must be getting old. The wind was awful, straight into my face especially with the frequent rain squalls 🙁 plus the road was quite dull essentially like the fens with long straight roads and abrupt bends .

The tiny poverty stricken roadside settlements were marked in Romanian style, loads of rubbish dumped on the village boundary. The kids run out and try a grab stuff of the bike, very annoying. One advantage of the rain was it kept the number of kids down.

Road? Wheres the road

Road? Wheres the road

I reached the area where they are constructing the new Kenitra – Tangier rail link. What a mess they are making of the road, it now comprises islands of tarmac separated by gravel/sand potholes. Totally a nightmare to bike on.

The rain became heavier and me more and more fed up with the traffic, I eventually reached Kenitra in the dark and raining heavy, not a good combination. I eventually found the station hoping to get a train to Rabat. Suddenly I heard shouting when I was wheeling the bike to the info boards. A very brusque guard made it clear that bikes are not allowed in stations and certainly not on the trains 🙁 He escorted me to the parcels office outside (identical to the Red Star at Cambridge Station of old). They said my bike would go overnight to Rabat. I said no way and left.

Donkey & cart procession

Donkey & cart procession

I found an equally miserable coffee place to rethink. Booking.com hotels were all sold out 🙂 so I checked maps.me to find there was a  Hotel Europa. I zoomed around arriving like the proverbial drowned rat. They had a room on the fourth floor as long as I didn’t mind the bar music! after 80 miles biking in those conditions they could have had an orchestra playing and I would have slept, especially after lugging the bike all the way up the staircase.

Strava says I did 80.1 miles and 1,473 feet of climbing at 9.4mph probably one of my toughest days ever,

Some pics are on dropbox here

 

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Tangier to Larache. Lifeday 25,318

At Tanger beach admiring the waves

At Tanger beach admiring the waves

Apparently I started on Twitter 10 years ago today 🙂

However, today was another toughie with a strong headwind most of the way plus I discovered Moroccan garages only sell fuel and oil no fridges full of cold drinks and chocolate 🙁  I did find one selling bottled water from a locked fridge. I guess its a poorness indicator the shops are also poorly stocked.

Cyclists

Cyclists

Lots of cyclists coming the other way on their Sunday rides giving me a wave. It’s amazing the different styles of driving, cars overtaking coming the other way seem very common forcing the cars on my side of the road into dangerous manoeuvres around me. I haven’t at to leap off yet like in South Africa but I’m certainly keeping my eye open for the ditches.

Tanger beach is stunning with new apartments selling for £23,000  but it’s miles from anywhere and you have to cross the busy road to get to the beach. Every village and town has massive apartment construction underway all very cheap in European money terms.

Arriving in Larache I tried to find the previously booked Lukus Hotel, The pin on the booking.com website is in the wrong place and Google couldn’t find it. Eventually after asking loads of people someone said ask at the Hotel Espanol down the side street. I did, and the reception guy had a scruffy bit of paper with a note of my name, spelt Jeff, so obviously it had been telephoned to him. By far the worst booking.com experience to date.

Larache itself seems to sell trainers and track suits in every shop and on the pavement. My main problem, apart from the lack of beer, is that every one speaks French so you can imagine I don’t get understood very much!

Strava says I did 56.7miles and 2,068ft of climbing at a very pathetic 9.6mph but that contains a lot of riding aimlessly to find the hotel and also leaving The Medina in Tangier another tricky part of the day.

Tomorrow is a long one especially since rain is now forecast for the next week. So maybe the train will be taking some of the strain…

The pictures of the day are here

 

Tarifa to Tangier Lifeday 25,317

Hotel Continental

Hotel Continental

A lazy day as you can imagine, it’s not possible to cycle across the Straits of Gibraltar 🙂 Instead I took the €36 high speed ferry to do the 18 miles separating Europe from Africa.

I had booked the Continental Hotel which overlooks the harbour in Tangier, easy to see but not so easy to get too up the steep alleys. The hotel itself is totally stunning, if a bit past its prime, inside with its gorgeous elaborate tilework covering every wall and its right in The Medina so very easy walking once the bike was stowed inside.

First task was to get a SIM card for my MiFi dongle. There seems to be a lot of competition with the main players having guys in the street all dressed up in their company’s livery. I ended up getting a SIM on the Meditel network, the first gig of data & SIM card was 40 MAD I bought an additional 5 gig for 50 MAD so 6 gigs for £8 compared to Three’s roaming charge of 6 THOUSAND pounds per gigabyte!!!! Word of warning though for 3 customers – make sure you deactivate roaming after leaving Spain on their Feel At Home plan.

The next task was getting the strap resewed on my Carradice bag, easily solved my a guy working in a tiny place just big enough for him and an industrial sewing machine – amazing and why I love places like this.

Lampshade shop

Lampshade shop

The rest of the time was spent clocking up well over 8 miles walking around The Medina I enjoyed it so much I think I will winter over here rather than Spain 🙂

Tomorrow I’m going 110km down The Atlantic coast to Larache. So it will be interesting to explore Moroccan roads & drivers.

No Strava today but some pictures here

 

Sabinillas – Gibraltar – Tarifa. Lifeday 25,316

The Rock

The Rock

A very full on day. Starting with five miles on the dreaded A-7, less busy today so not to bad. I turned of and explored the once huge gated community of Sotogrande very posh indeed 🙂 Then with relief along the old road alongside the A-7 until I reached the A383 and then a climb to over 600 feet before swooping down into Concepcion and Gibraltar whose passport control was totally perfunctory.

The apes and where they were looking.

The apes and where they were looking.

Gibraltar was incredibly busy, especially with my pet hates of scooters & taxis everywhere plus lots of tourists, not my sort of place at all, although interesting to see how England used to be but in the sun. I decided to take the cable car to the top, leaving my bike with the Fire Station below 🙂 Took loads of pics of the so called wild apes for Sally and the view.  Before quickly descending and escaping the turmoil.

Sunset at the southern tip of mainland Europe

Sunset at the southern tip of mainland Europe

Then it was of to Tarifa climbing to well over 1,000 feet before dropping back to sea level in Tarifa and the finish of the European bit of my bike ride. This has taken 31 days of riding (excluding Ibiza)  to do 1,907 miles  and with 77,679 feet of ascent 🙂  I left home 68 days ago but have been flitting to and fro quite a bit plus spending two weeks in Ibiza so all very leisurely.

Tomorrow its the ferry across the straits and a night in Tangier, Morocco.

The Strava’s for today are:
To Gibraltar  24.7 miles 1,234 feet of ascent
To Tarifa 31.6 miles 1,843 feet of ascent

The pics are on Dropbox here