Category Archives: MOROCCO

WHAT WAS MY FAVORITE COUNTRY? PART I

Everyone asks “what was your favorite country?” I had never really thought about it because I had nothing but positive experiences everywhere I stayed. So the answer I’ve used several times: “I would re-visit every place again, if given the opportunity.” “If you told me you were going to Tavira, Portugal I would want to go with you.” The only place I visited (and without my bike) was Morocco, that I couldn’t make a recommendation one way or the other. It was great at times but trying at other times, the jury is still out on Morocco.
I’m going to write a small commentary on each country I visited. I hope there’s enough for you to plan a trip to one of the many places I visited.
PORTUGAL
I pace my travel in order to avoid having to return. But I spent 5days in LISBON, I left feeling a yearning for more.

20140104-105632.jpgTHE PUBLIC PLAZAS WERE ALL VERY INTERESTING AND CREATIVE

20140104-105759.jpg I RODE DURING THE EARLY SPRING BLOOMS, OUTRAGEOUSLY BEAUTIFUL

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MIGEL’S HOSTEL IN TAVIRA, FELT LIKE HOME
Biking in Portugal was so satisfying, I felt all the work in planning for this trip was paid back and I could have come home. (notice could have)
SPAIN
I’ve had friends rave about Spain, I get it now. The history, art, landscape diversity and the people were tops. I had a year for this adventure, I could have easily spent it all in Spain.

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LOTS OF AWESOME VIEWS

20140104-110930.jpgCLIFF’S HOSPITALITY WAS JUST A SMALL SAMPLE OF WHAT PEOPLE EXTENDED TO ME

20140104-112825.jpgI FOUND THE MUSLIM ART AT BOTH ALCAZAR and ALHAMBRA TO BE IN MINT CONDITION. (much better than Topeka Palace in Turkey)

20140104-114356.jpg THE VILLAGE OF COLERA HAD ART, NUMEROUS ACTIVITIES: DIVING, HIKING, SNORKELING, SWIMMING, KAYAKING. HISTORY AND THE OPPORTUNITY TO WORK ON NURIA’S COMMUNITY GARDEN PLOT!
After staying at 2 “border” towns I find they have a lot of the countries uniqueness without the crowds. I would re-visit COLERA without hesitation.
MOROCCO
I wasn’t going to go to Morocco, but from Seville, Spain a round trip ticket cost 130 EURO ($169), OK I’ll go! I spent 2 weeks: SAHARA DESERT and SIDI IFNI and FEZ . I consider myself pretty well travelled (3 times around the world), but MARRAKESH ate me alive. I wasn’t ready for the continuous opportunities they found to take advantage of me.

20140104-121736.jpg I GOT SCAMMED INTO VISITING THE TANNERY DURING THIS WEEKENDS “CELEBRATION”. Remember a tannery is where they work dead animal skins, WTF!

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I LOVE AND RESPECT AGRICULTURAL WORK, BUT HERE IT SEEMED ONLY THE WOMEN WERE WORKING IN THE FIELDS

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THE CAMEL CAMPOUT WAS A GREAT EXPERIENCE AND A SUPER VALUE

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AWAY FROM THE BIG CITIES BIKING CAN BE SAFE AND VERY REWARDING (rented bikes are shit)

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THEN THERE’S THE GARBAGE SITUATION, TOSSED INTO THE STREET AT NIGHT, BUT CLEANED UP BY SUNRISE

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MOST OF THE MOROCCANS WERE AWESOME, BUT THE SCAMMERS GAVE THE COUNTRY A BLACK EYE
Like I said earlier, the jury is out about recommending or returning to Morocco. I have a friend building a house there, so maybe I’ll return someday?
FRANCE
The first 2 hours of biking in France, I flipped off 3 drivers, non previous to that. It was the start of their busy tourist season on the coast, everyone was in a hurry, to have fun? I was in France 20 years ago, you couldn’t hardly get a cup of coffee unless you spoke French. That’s over, they got the memo, English is the International language, not French. I felt so welcome speaking only english, it was awesome.

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MY GOOGLE CALENDAR ALERTED ME TO NEIL YOUNG’S CONCERT, I QUICKLY LEFT SPAIN AND HEADED EAST.

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THE FRENCH WERE VERY HOSPITABLE, DINNER, CONVERSATION AND LOTS OF LAUGHS
The tourist office in TENDE (another border town) recommended I visit GRANILE. The tourist office was spot on about this recommendation.

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GRANILE WAS THE MOST INTERESTING PLACE I VISITED IN FRANCE
I was so close to MONACO I decided to join the 20,000 tourist who visit daily. The country is 2km X 2km, best known as a tax haven and for gambling. I thought it was kinda of a police state too, I was stopped 3 times and reprimanded for something? (no police photos from here).

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MONACO’S AQUARIUM WAS AMAZING! BUILT IN 1910 (PHOTOS)
ITALY
I had several awesome bike tours planned. The more I thought about it and some of my other options, it came down to, no Italy. I did spend some time in VENICE. It was pretty hot, crowded and the transportation options were limited. I was kinda burned out from traveling, so I holed up in my air-conditioned hotel room.

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THE MURANO GLASS WAS REALLY AWESOME
A local told me there were three businesses that made good money: the water taxis, gondola paddlers and

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THE LUGGAGE GUYS (this guy is earning his now) I NEEDED HELP GETTING MY BIKE AND TRAILER OVER A PEDESTRIAN BRIDGE, $10 FOR 1 MINUTE OF WORK (I did it myself)
I got the train out of hot Venice and headed for the cool mountains of Slovenia.

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RIGHT OFF THE TRAIN, I GRABBED THIS BIKE PATH ALL THE WAY TO SLOVENIA!

20140104-185607.jpgBUT NOT BEFORE I CAMPED ILLEGALLY AT LAGHI DI FUSINE
I really didn’t give Italy a chance to win me over, but my decsion to skip Italy proved to be life changing. Maybe Italy will be in some future travel plans. If you really must see the leaning tower of Pisa, google it.
This blog post is longer than I thought it would be, so 2 parts.
Thanks for reading (the stat page tells me your reading)
Climate Change needs your action to stop, please stand up and make a difference.
Ride On
Jeff
NEXT? WHAT WAS MY FAVORITE COUNTRY PART II

STORY & PHOTOS OF POLICEMEN & POLICEWOMEN!

I was in Portugal and spotted this Policeman who looked like the “terminator” cop. I wanted to get a photo. I asked if I could, then his friend said yes, I just wanted terminator, but OK, I took this photo

20131203-091859.jpgPORTUGUESE POLICE PHOTO WITH THE TERMINATOR COP AND HIS FRIEND
I take the ferry to Spain, there were 2 policeman who were giving me directions to the phone store , I showed them the Portuguese photo then they offered to have their photo taken.. I said “Heck Ya.” This was the start of collecting policeman photos in every country I visited.

20131203-092332.jpgTHE SPANISH POLICE WERE SUPER FRIENDLY AND HELPFUL
A friend (?) from France wrote and told me to look out for Spanish cops. I sent him this photo and asked, “these guys?”
I’m biking around France, shopped at a farmers market and spotted 2 policeman. I asked him for photo? No. I show him the Spanish photo, he walks away. He joins his partner across the street, then he waves me over.

20131203-102226.jpgTOOK SOME CONVINCING BUT I FINALLY GOT THE PICTURE OF FRENCH POLICEMAN.
My first day in Venice, Italy at the ATM I spotted 2 policeman and they eagerly agreed to the photo.

20131203-150825.jpgTHESE ITALIAN POLICEMAN NEEDED NO CONVINCING TO HAVE THEIR PICTURE TAKEN.
Slovenia was a real task, I had to compromise some with this one. First, there are hardly any police around! I had always tried to get 2 policeman together, that wasn’t going to happen here.

20131203-151409.jpgTHIS IS THE SLOVENIAN PARLIAMENTARY BUILDING “POLICE” GUARD. THAT’S THE BEST I COULD DO. There are really no police to be found and not 2 together for sure.
The Croatian policeman shot was just about as difficult as the Slovenian. I hardly ever saw the police here either. But when we were dropping off bike boxes at the ferry dock, I spotted several armed “dock” police.

20131203-152142.jpgTHIS IS THE CROATIAN MARITIME POLICE, AGAIN IT’S THE BEST I COULD DO.
The Montenegro police photo was totally by “accident.” I was only going to be in Montenegro for 24 hours, so my chances were pretty slime. The bus I was riding in got in an accident, so the police arrived to take a report.

20131203-152736.jpgTHE MONTENEGRO POLICE DELIVERED THIS PHOTO BY WAY OF AN ACCIDENT.
Albania was fairly easy, the first night in town I walked into town with a local. He convinced them it would be OK, somehow?

20131203-153123.jpgTHIS ALBANIAN POLICEMAN PHOTO WAS TAKEN MY FIRST 5 MINUTES OF WALKING THE STREETS

The Greek policeman photo should have been of at least 2 policeman. Of the four policeman, only this one agreed to a picture.

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THE GREEK POLICEMAN ALL COMPLAINED ABOUT GERMAN CHANCELLOR MERKEL’S AUSTERITY DEMANDS
This next photo of the Turkish police is the Gold Standard from which all policeman photos should be judged.

20131203-161812.jpgHOT TURKISH POLICEWOMEN WITH MACHINE GUN–YEP HOLY SHOT
It was fairly easy to get all the 10 countries I visited policeman photos, but one Morocco. When I asked maybe 10 different policeman the answer was always the same “IT IS FORBIDDEN.” So I pretended to be adjusting my music while taking a few pictures:

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THANKS FOR READING, TALK SOON
RIDE ON, JEFF

FEZ , MOROCCO

Im back in Seville, Spain. I haven’t decided whether I loved Morocco or I’m to old to deal with all the crap that comes with traveling in an emerging country (3rd world). My computer keyboard broke so typing and the blog were difficult. I don’t remember if I mentioned this before, but the Moroccon’s shake your hand, smile in your face, call you friend, meanwhile they have their other hand and thoughts on whats in the wallet in your pocket. I was taken my first week, I got to the point where I started to trust no÷one. The last day I got so sick of it that I talked the guy who sold little packets of kleenex to tourist down, because I didn’t want to pay his asking price. Thats not who I am.
I made random notes on my Iphone note pad.
1. Someone came through the bus station selling plain white plates. What?
2. I dont drink alcohol for whatever reason, but traveling, drinking can double your cost if your not careful. If I have one year of money Id rather not drink and travel the full year instead of just 6 months.
3.when I met a Moroccon and told them I was from the USA, they yelled back OBAMA! he’s loved down here.
4.When visiting Sidi Ifni, I went to a local restaurant, I asked for a menu and he took me out to the sidewalk and pointed to the pizza place down the street. I looked at him and laughed and so did he, it was definitely a LOCALS ONLY place. The pizza was good, vegetarian.
5. Just my Mortgage is $50 a day, the camel trip was only $35 a day.
6. Theres more pan handlers in Portland than Morocco, and we have more opportunity than in Morocco to better your life.
just some observations
I got a photo with a couple of Policemen in Portugal. Then when I got to Spain I showed them the Portugal photo,they offered to have their picture with me, so yes I did. Well that wont happen in Morocco, it is FORBIDDEN. I heard that over and over.

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I couldn’t resist this shot

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Or her
Back to Fez
Heres where it gets fuzzy, the hotel advertised free WIFI, it was broken for the 3 days I was there and Im guessing probably longer. I paid for my there nights then started to realize they were remodeling the upstairs, so I stayed away during the day because of the all day hammering. So I got up early and searched for the nice hotels that had the big tour buses in front. I would go in and use the internet then treat myself to the breakfast buffet. Travel is adventuresome and trying at times.
The french influence is awesome, with all the bakeries.

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I found this awesome chicken place near the hotel, I ate there every night. Of course it got more expensive each time, plus americans tip. First night I got 1/4 chicken, then I got 1/2 chicken the next night, then I got a whole chicken and made sandwiches for the train.
/

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I usually do the thumbs up, they did it without any coaxing. They were really great people and the chicken and BBQ sauce were over the top great

Another interesting thing was the human parking meters, people who help you park, collected money and watched your car for you.

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They worked for the city government and were on nearly every street.
Theres so much more, but Im tired.

So I walk out to get my bus to the airport, it drives by as I’m walking up. So its hot I wait maybe 10 minutes and decide to just get a cab~they’re everywhere.The bus is $4, so I offer the cab guy $7.50, he nods and waves me in. As we get close to the airport his car dies, out of gas, just short of the airport, then he wants $13 for the cab ride that fell short. I should have paid him nothing and walked but I didn’t. I paid him the agreed price but again I didn’t receive the agreed upon service, thank you & farewell Morocco, for a long long time. My photos are here

Sidi Ifni, Morocco

Thanks to Ken Southerland’s advice on a city in Morocco to visit and place to stay Suerta Loca. Ken & Heidi are traveling around the world visit them HERE
I’m in Sidi Ifni where it’s pretty mellow compared to crazy Marrakesh. I bought a bag of dates at the Farmers Market here today, got 5x’s as many dates at 1/5 the price that I paid in Marrakesh. Bought plums and bananas, I haven’t eaten bananas in 12 years in the states, so this is a treat, for sure. They have those really sweet little ones. I spent some money at the market today. $100 worth of jewelry, knife, Mickey Mouse ring for Stanley and misc. stuff. Trust me, it made their day and mine. Got the Laundry done today (who cares?) ME.
At the farmers market their was a ton of used shoes, it was so weird. Where did they get them?.

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There were hundreds of shoes almost every 4th booth had used shoes. I found out today that the shoes are from Europe.

I bought a kilo of strawberries today for $2.50 and some yogurt. I shared them with the german lady in red and her 14 year old son who’s here surfing.

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This is my our beautiful host Malika and the Suerta Loca
I biked both north and south, north is the arched rocks along the beach.

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This is the “bike” surf shop rental office.
Then the trip north was really enlightening, those plastic bags that being banned around the world? Well they need to be banned here. I actually took a bag to the farmers market and wanted to put the strawberrys in it, he wouldn’t do it, he wanted me to have a new bag. Anyway south was the landfill and an ocean of plastic bags in the surrounding area while the garbage was being burnt. Burning plastic, nice smell and great for the environment.

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I suspect a plastic bag or two & a few plastic water bottles are mine.
The King of Morocco is trying to do the Portugal thing here and build a bunch of condos and try to attract tourist. So on the south ride I went by a cement plant that was making port construction walls. There had to be a thousand of them. They current port wall is to small their going big time.

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Look closely and compare the size of the cement tops to the trucks,
I moved to a hotel with an unobstructed ocean view, I can’t afford that at home but for 2 nights I can afford it here.

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I have photos Here
I didn’t have time to tag the photos while they were being upload for an hour. I made comments in the comment box, you can add a comment or just read mine.
To save time checking the blog for updates you can sign up for the RSS feed from my homepage. It’s easier than you think.
Thanks for following this trip. 3 more days for Morocco, then back to the bike. I think bike travel probably cost 1/2 as much as what I’m doing now.

CAMEL RIDING AND CAMPING IN THE SAHARA DESERT

I signed up for a tour to the Sahara Desert from MERZOUGA, Morocco’s only genuine saharan erg is ERG CHEBBI. The 3 day tour included camping, hotel, some meals and a 1200 km mini-bus ride for the price of $100. When I worked (hard) for Portland Bicycle tours we had a 5 hour wine tour that was $90. This might be one of the advantages of traveling 3rd world. I define 3rd world as when you see people coming from the grocery store with there goods on a donkey, or is that the future after oil? just an observation. We stopped at AIT BENHADDOU, TODRA GORGE, TINGHIR and a fossil stone factory (that for me was awesome) probably the least favorite of the group. I’ve bought a couple rocks, been taken everytime. I think I’m a good businessman but I’m lousy at bargaining. I paid a fortune for a couple rocks and the hash was expensive too.
There were 3 twenty year old girls from the Southern USA who were studying in the UK and Spain. They were riding the folks ticket. They each bought themselves a rug at the rug shop stop. One called Dad to OK the purchase, kinda cute in a way. Their photo is in the stream of pictures I posted.
No-one says Bonjour (French is spoken here) to me it’s always Hello I’m obviously a target tourist, I should be ready, but their good, very good.
Well after many tourist stops we end up at the desert and within 30 minutes we were on the camels and off we go. 10 minutes later I was done, that was fun. But truly an hour and a half is a long time on a camel. There;s no stirrups like a horse saddle, your legs just hang and my ball were killing me (I wasn’t the only one to complain). We arrived at camp and hiked to the top of a dune, I only went 1/2 way. I told them to photo shop me into one of their pictures so it looked like I hiked to the top. They had a snowboard (sandboard) a couple of Polish girls got on and slide down, they were loving it. We slept in tents (no formal bathroom) pee in the desert and hold that poop in. We were up at 5am and riding back, we saw the sun come up about 1/2 way through the ride. I got the camel that had the supplies, it was super comfortable compared to the ride out. I was the only one to tip the guides that lead (walked) us out and back. At that moment I was proud to be an American and share what We & I’ve worked so hard for and share it with people who showed me a great time. I even tipped the guy that made our free breakfast at the Hotel.
The driver was driving pretty fast, one of the girls got sick (she said it was the flu) but the driving didn’t help. I told him to slow down or no tip. It worked, amazing. I took a few pictures, but let me just say it was one of those roads you see on National Geographic, fucking SCARY. I got a few pictures, but they aren’t of some of the craziest roads we drove. Jesus I was kinda scared, I told the girls that’s the 3rd world travel bargain, guard rail, hit or missing, life still goes on, hopefully! This is where my T-shirt “God Doesn’t Like me” hopefully doesn’t apply.
It was a really fun 3 days, I would do that again if the opportunity showed itself.
So the driver had our lives in his hands, so to speak. When we arrived in Marrakech, I tipped him, again NONE of the other 12 travelers did, WTF really. It was a 3 day $100 tour. How much could they be making? Proud to have the resources to share with others, who could use it. Everyone else was let out of the van to get back to their hotel, the driver took me back to mine. What goes around comes around, remember that.

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THIS IS WHAT A CAMEL TOE REALLY LOOKS LIKE

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VERY EARLY MORNING CAMEL RIDE, SUN JUST COMING UP
MORE OF MY PHOTOS HERE
GOOGLE PHOTOS OF:
MERZOUGA
AIT BENHADDOU
TODRA GORGE

WELCOME TO MARRAKESH, MOROCCO

Thank you for a 3 hour bus layover, in Agadir, Morocco. I got some blog time now, while I watch football (soccer) in the cafe. I’ve been so busy, the third world travel is cheap but has a price, it’s a ton of work. Let me just say no bike here is alright. I met a women from New Zealand this morning, she’s biking around Morocco, Why? There’s barely room for the cars and trucks little lone a cyclist. After telling her about my travels, I think she may meet me in Spain, Abbey, is quite the rider though, been a lot of places.
Marrakesh definitely has got it going on, how? who knows? Some how this city is working, it’s pretty crazy on the streets. I’ve been hit on endlessly for “helping” me when I got lost. There’s no free advice, no tourist information building your on your own and the hundreds of independent businessmen that want to help, for a price. I ‘m riding the bus around town instead of taking a taxi, with the people, you know.

So my first day here, someone mentioned about it being the last day of a tanning festival. Then someone approached me and started talking, he passed me over to another person who “happen” to be going that way. I was almost there then I realized I was being scammed. I went to the “tannery”, that’s basically lots of dead animal skins (sheep,goat,cow,camel) and they stink BAD. A few pictures later I was in the showroom of rugs, purses, shoes and other misc. leather goods. They started bringing out the rugs, I just walked out. I got to the street and the guy who led me around wanted to get paid. I emptied my pocket of change ,handed it to him and he threw it back at me. They offered to show me the Tannery but whatever. F them.

I stumbled on the Earth Cafe, vegetarian/vegan while walking around town. It was such a calm from the storm I didn’t want to leave. I was looking through my guide book today and they gave it a must eat at place, good accidental score. I’ve been twice, so far.

I finally up loaded some photo’s and branded their location etc. I hope you all enjoy them, it took quite awhile to upload (3rd world internet)I

I’ve had to make some notes (on the iphone)
1. the women are working hard in the fields the men are sitting around drinking coffee, not everywhere or everyone, but alot.
2.We were in the middle of nowhere, there were plastic bags everywhere, I have no idea how they got there? It’s windy at times?
3. In Portugal someone asked how I afforded this trip, I told them I rented my house out, he commented that “I traded my house for a tent.” He said that’s what he was going to do.
4 Blame the lack of Blog work on the hash, enough said!
5. While on a tour, the mini-van was driving on the gravel shoulder because it was in better shape than certain parts of the road. If you look on a map you’ll see Merzouga is out there, way out there. I have no idea how they paved any of it.
6 I ate at McDonalds, I was too tired too deal with it. I told the guy last time I traveled around the world I had a Big Mac in every country. He told me these were the best because the animal is killed by Muslim tradition which is with a sawing action-I’m not kidding. The McDonald’s was packed for your information. It tasted like a Big Mac tastes, around the world the same (except Switzerland had the best)

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THE ONLY GUIDE WHO DIDN’T ASK FOR MONEY, HE WAS VERY FUNNY TOO

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STICKER ON BACK DOORS OF BUS
MY PICTURES ARE HERE