Germany to Morocco, with a brief stop in Spain!

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by jbar28, Apr 2, 2013.

  1. PukaWai

    PukaWai Been here awhile

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    There is an even funnier language story, but rather than relate it, do this:
    think about what you think the spanish word embarazada means, then when you meet up with your spanish speaking wife, ask her what it really means. You can guess the story from there...

    I would be so up for this as I am returning to Europe this summer for another 3-week ride. Was thinking about the England, Ireland, and Scotland this year. Kinda questioning my sanity about going to a place known for its shitty weather and um, mediocre food though. The ride east to Istanbul was for next year. Anyways, my trip and flights are already booked for September, so your timing sucks! Mine, of course, is impeccable:D

    Looking forward to the next installments on your RR!
    #41
  2. jbar28

    jbar28 Been here awhile

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    Turns out that Repsol gas station I commented on yesterday is just off the A-66 Autoroute. How funny. And like much of the old stuff on US Rte 66, it was closed.
    #42
  3. jbar28

    jbar28 Been here awhile

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    Something I've realized on this trip that is true in most of Europe, but seems to be even more true in Spain, is the attention a customer receives. In the US, if I just need to know where the bathroom is, I can often approach a customer service person, get in a quick question no matter what they are doing, and be on my way. Not so here. If the person I want to talk to is helping someone else or doing something else, like stacking plates, then they will almost never acknowledge me until they are done. This can be frustrating, obviously, if you're used to 'butting in' like we do in the US. But I've discovered the past few days that it can also be pleasing when eventually you are the one being served. I never realized how seldom we in the US have someone's complete and undivided attention. Here you will have to wait a while, but when that person comes to help you, then it's your turn and the hounds of hell could be doing their thing on the carpet, but they would have to wait until you have been served.

    But enough about that. I spent last night and this morning walking around Merida. Last night looking for a restaurant that was open. Town full of places to eat, and the one I see open is selling American Hot Dogs. And it's PACKED with locals, mostly young people. I can't do it. I don't even like hot dogs, especially not when I'm in Spain. I end up at the only other place I can find open, get a suspicious calamari boqadillo, and don't end up poisoned.

    Turns out the Roman art museum is closed Mondays, I didn't read far enough. But I got to some of the monuments.

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    Another tile advertising wall.
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    In the arena this morning they had signs talking about the different kinds of gladiators and what they did, who they fought.

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    I never knew there were assigned roles and styles of fighting, I figured it was a free-for-all to the death. But no, in fact they got paid, between three and fifteen years wages for a soldier for one fight. Of course if you lose...

    then you never get to see this, the roof of the winner's exit tunnel.
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    Later builders took lots of material from old Roman buildings, as happened almost everywhere.
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    and look how they built with it! This wall was built in the 800's by the Moors. Compare the workmanship to the picture above.
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    Another angle of the Roman bridge, showing most of it's 750 meter length.

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    and they're still diggin' more stuff up!
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    Not many riding pictures from today and what I have will get posted tomorrow when I've had more time to go through them.
    #43
  4. pip_muenster

    pip_muenster curious

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    Tempting. We're torn between Iceland and the Balkan countries, the latter being on your route to Turkey.
    On the other hand, your report stands out due to your interaction with the locals - one thing which is usually special for solo trips.
    :hide
    #44
  5. kneeslider

    kneeslider Long timer

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    Great trip! Brought back memories.

    Merci, Danke!
    #45
  6. drisschoufa

    drisschoufa Adventurer

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    Enjoyed reading your RR, can't wait for you to cross to Morocco. I live in San Diego and do ride a lot but I was born and raised in Morocco and haven't ridden there ADV style because when I visit I am always with family and friends and non of them ride ADV style they have dirt bikes for dirt and Harley's for cruising. I really need to fly to Paris or somewhere in Europe rent a BMW and ride it for a month throughout Europe and morocco, so many places I have been to using a 4x4 in the middle of nowhere in morocco that I wish I have my bike there to ride and explore with.
    #46
  7. jbar28

    jbar28 Been here awhile

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    I guess it's less intimidating for them to interact with me because I'm alone the same way it's less intimidating for me to approach one or two people rather than a big bunch. I hadn't thought about that. Good observation.
    #47
  8. jaumev

    jaumev Long timer

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    Nice trip, I know most of the places you show and give me good memories.
    Reading this kind of trips I'm more and more tempting to do a solo trip!

    Thanks for sharing. :clap

    BTW, I'm just comming from Morocco: great country!!
    #48
  9. jbar28

    jbar28 Been here awhile

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    I left Merida just before noon and took N-435 towards Huelva. I'd read on www.bestbikingroads.com (you guys know about that site, right?) some of the comments on this road and they are mixed, which is about right. I found very little construction, and long sweeping curves with nice scenery, but also more than a few big trucks, and the pavement is such that you end up choosing or modifying your line through the curves based on pavement conditions.

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    The spots on the these pictures are bugs on the lens and dust on the sensor. I ordered a new camera a couple weeks ago but it didn't arrive in time for the trip. My wife is bringing it today :clap so i took the chance of hanging the old one outside the fairing to see how it worked. Bugs on your lens are hard to clean off!

    There are stretches, often the most interesting parts, where there aren't many places to get around slower traffic. Also a few speed cameras, but unlike France, here they seem to be well marked. It's almost like they say "Speed Camera 200 meters" the way they did in the UK when I lived there.

    By the time you get to the coast near Huelva, it's not a great place. Reminds me of parts of the gulf coast in Louisiana.

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    And parts of it stink. You know, one of the cool things about riding anywhere is how much more you notice smells than in a car. Some are not so great, like this, but a lot of things are in bloom here in Spain this time of year, and the smells are fabulous! In downtown Huelva I turned a corner onto a street lined with orange trees in blossom, and the sweet smell of it nearly stopped me in my tracks. WOW!

    I went to Huelva because from this relatively unknown port, Christopher Columbus and his crew set out on their first voyage to the New World. I was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, the largest city named for him, and it seemed I should stop by. There's a statue for him on the harbor, although it doesn't look much like the one in front of city hall in Columbus, Ohio!

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    I like this one better. Sorry, Dad.

    Then around to Sanlucar, just 25 minutes from where I'm meeting my wife and some friends who are flying in for a week of vacation. Flying... how boring!:ricky

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    Sanlucar is nice once you get inside, both the town and the buildings. But neither really present all that well at first. I'm staying at a great little hotel called the Alconda, only 5 rooms. The owner Manuel lives in one building, then there's a great courtyard and the buildings with the guest rooms.

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    Like many buildings in this area, the outside isn't a priority, the inside is the nice part. I know this is common in some parts of the world, perhaps even more so in Morocco? I like it.

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    There's that darn hot dog again!

    I did NOT eat hot dogs. Ate at a great place right in the town square that Manuel said was the best.

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    You can't really tell in the picture, but the langostines are about the size of a hot dog! We did a lot of point and shrug ordering, the bar man and I not sharing many words we both knew, but it got the job done. He was super friendly, even wrote the price of the langostines on the bar in chalk to make sure I wanted them. 18.50 for four! Yeah, OK, just this once... Then I had these little sausage balls that were called something like Jabugojones. No not cajones, they came in a long string, like sausages. Jabugo is a major ham producing town that I rode through on the N-435 but didn't have time to stop. I don't know if these are related, but they were good. The bar guys are flying around all night with food and drink, writing down who owes what on a pad of paper with each table's prices in a box, no number or name. How they don't get it mixed up all the time I don't know. In fact they did try to give me someone else's fish fillets.. By the time I was done I was looking at the pad trying to add up my total so when he came back I would have the money ready, and it was 33 and some change, but the bar man said it was 28. :D No idea why, maybe he felt bad a bout the 18.50 surprise?

    On the way back to the hotel I walked by this place.
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    I remember going to a hobby shop out on the west side of Columbus a a kid with my dad, being fascinated by the slot cars. It's long gone, but it's cool to know these still exist somewhere.

    So today I'll ride half an hour over to a place I'm leaving my bike, park it for a week, and enjoy some vacation time with my wife. Maybe I'll take a closer look at that little piece of metal in the back tire this morning, too, :huh in case I need to do something there before Morocco.

    Six and a half days, and the GPS says a moving time of just over 48 hours and about 3600 kilometeres (that's 2240 miles for the Americans), estimating in the two times I was riding without the GPS turned on. With a Corbin seat, Alaska butt pad, and bar risers, the V-strom suits me pretty well.

    Be back in a week!
    #49
  10. panzerrocket

    panzerrocket Been here awhile

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    A very enjoyable report, thanks :clap
    I like your affection for Spain - I love that country.
    And thanks for taking me back to the Duoro Valley and Lisboa. 7 years ago I spent 6 weeks criss crossing Portugal, lovely country.

    Enjoy the week with your wife, while the rest of us impatiently wait for the rest:D
    #50
  11. drisschoufa

    drisschoufa Adventurer

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    Especially Barcelona and the costa de sol my favorites. Waiting also for the rest it should get intersting once you add donkeys crossing the road without warning:lol3
    #51
  12. ata

    ata expat in the jungle

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    be careful, dude
    donkeys are protected by laws as endangered species

    and riders arenĀ“t:lol3
    #52
  13. jbar28

    jbar28 Been here awhile

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    Just a few pictures from my week off riding in Andalusia.

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    Orange trees are in blossom, and the smell is unreal.
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    My wife brought along my new camera, and the low light capabilities are pretty awesome.
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    Does this count as ADV riding?
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    Cool bicycle in the flea market crowd.
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    Saw 4 Bonnies in 2 days in Seville.
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    Sherry tasting house in Malaga.
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    View from our hotel in Malaga. Quite a climb up the foot path but worth it every time.
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    My friend Roger told this ape "Climb up on that cannon and pose". And he did! OK, technically this is not in Spain, it's Gibraltar, so it's England.
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    #53
  14. jbar28

    jbar28 Been here awhile

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    I didn't really ride much today, only about 4 hours. I had left the bike with some friends of friends in Rota, so after collecting that, doing some laundry :clap and having a fabulous lunch, I didn't get on the road until 3pm. I headed to Ronda. We'd been through there a few days before in the rental car and it looked like a fun place to ride. The area around Grazalema is good, but came across five or six places where the road had sunk away.

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    Don't know if this is common, or if they've had a lot of rain, or what, but be careful!

    From Ronda I rode down A-397, which I'd read is a great road. I'll say it is scenic, but not a great ride. Speed limit is 60 kph in any turn tight enough to lean, and if you ride within the law it wouldn't make your Grandma car sick. If you don't.. I saw one speed camera and three Guardia Civil, so take your own chances. There are lots of roads in Spain that are a better ride, with much less traffic. Don't know why this one is so well known.

    Anyway, I made it back down to the coast, to my little hotel on the beach in Sabinilles.

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    It's a nice enough town. Guy at the reception desk was nice enough to print my customs form for Morocco, so baring any unforeseen glitches, I'll be in Ifrane tomorrow night! Does that sound positive? I'm trying to be positive, but the closer I get to going on the ferry, the less well I sleep and the more I find to worry about. Spain and France seem different to me when I compare them to home, but when I think of Africa... well, the only way to find out is to go find out, so that's what I'm going to do. But I don't mind saying it's a bit intimidating.
    #54
  15. panzerrocket

    panzerrocket Been here awhile

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    On ya go mate, nothing to worry about.
    A new world is waiting - Africa :pynd
    #55
  16. TravelBike

    TravelBike keep on..... :-)

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    in !! :lurk
    #56
  17. jbar28

    jbar28 Been here awhile

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    I'm in Ifrane, Morocco, after a GREAT DAY of riding. But with a few glitches. First, the internet server at my friends' apartment is blocking access to pretty much all photo hosting websites, including the one I'm using. So I can't add pictures right now.

    Second, my bike has developed a bit of an issue. Almost certain it is valve noise. The bike has 19,900 miles on it and has never had the valves looked at. I talked to the Suzuki dealer near my home in Germany last fall and they pretty much talked me out of having the valves checked last fall. It was going to cost 300 Euros just to check them (more to adjust them if needed), and the mechanic told me he's never had to adjust one until it has a lot more miles on it. So I didn't have it done. :baldy I stopped tonight in a town up the road to check the GPS for directions, and the cook at a roadside restaurant came out to chat with me. I took my earplugs out so I could hear him, and since I was going only 15 km up the road I didn't put them back in. And noticed the valve noise.

    So now I'm rethinking my plan to head farther south, farther from home and into less populated country, until I can figure out about the bike. :cry Maybe I'll go fire it up in the morning and it will sound fine. But I doubt it. As far as I can tell, there aren't any Suzuki motorcycle dealers in the area, so even if I can find a mechanic that can work on it, finding the valve shims would be pretty much impossible. Maybe I'll spend a few days here and relax with the friends I came to visit and then ride north and head at least in the direction of home. Yeah, I know the sahara and all kinds of cool things are a day's ride south, but...

    I'll try to find a place to upload photos tomorrow. In the meantime, anyone with experience or knowledge that might help with the valve issue, I'd be happy to hear.

    But I can't close without saying that Morocco seems to be ( based on one day) a beautiful country, with far fewer crazy drivers than I had been led to expect. I met friendly people, helpful officials, had no trouble finding ATM's, gas, roads, great food, and stuff I needed. My open source GPS map is working great, so that saved me from buying the Garmin map for $120 :rofl. Seems like I was worried about a lot of stuff for nothing. :clap

    ADDING PICTURES!
    My hotel in Fes isn't filtering Photobucket, so I'm adding pictures from yesterday here.

    I got to the post at about 0825, hoping to make a 0900 ferry, but could only get a ticket for 1000. I got a one way ticket, as it was less than half the price of an open return. The only problem I had was there was no place to park a motorcycle with big luggage. I finally found a place on the sidewalk in the truck parking area. Probably not approved, but nobody seemed to mind.
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    The boat I took over was big enough that the semi's can drive in and do a u-turn inside, so they don't have to back out.
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    And I learned where all that stuff that gets picked out of the bulk trash days in France and Germany ends up.
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    Seems like an expensive way to do it, but it must pay or they wouldn't keep at it.

    My bike fit neatly in the space between the trucks, and even got tied down. Very nice.
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    The highway out of the port must be a toll-way, because my GPS routed me on the P4703 / P4701, up a windy gravel road through 30 km of construction. Hey, it's an adventure, right? And I got some nice waves from the road crew guys. Not sure if it was encouragement or ridicule, but it seemed friendly at the time.
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    Eventually the road climbed up the valley and into nice scenery.
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    I ended up on the N2, a very busy two lane road with lots of trucks but nice views when you aren't dodging one of them.
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    Market day in a town I went through.
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    South of Chefchaouen I took the N13, which is a really nice ride over to Ouezzane. Still some traffic, but not a lot.
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    I stopped for gas and lunch here.
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    Not sure exactly what I ate, but it was great, and cost only 30 dirhams, or about US$4.
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    I've seen every white Mercedes 240 ever made, I think, still on the road as Grand Taxi's (go from town to town).
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    Also some other forms of transport.
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    Stopped for a self portrait looking over the valley before Zagota.
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    And went past the Roman ruins at Volubilis. More on that to come, I have to go see it when I have time.
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    And then on to Ifrane. Hope posting the pictures back here in chronological order doesn't mess up either of the readers. Seemed like the best option.
    #57
  18. pip_muenster

    pip_muenster curious

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    Very sorry to hear that. I can't give any advise, but I can feel with you. My bike essentially started acting up the day I continued solo through Morocco. I'll keep my fingers crossed for you that being 'worried about a lot of stuff for nothing' stays the theme for your valve issue, too.
    #58
  19. drisschoufa

    drisschoufa Adventurer

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    You should be able to go to a Suzuki motorcycle dealer or just find a really good mechanic in the big cities like Fes, Rabat and especially Casablanca.
    One thing I learned traveling around the world is that they are a lot qualified people out there they won't be in a nice clean dealership but they sure can fix anything out there with anything.
    If you are worried about the qualifications of the Moroccans and I think you should just go to Ceuta it's a Spanish city about 40mn from Tangiers with a motorcycle there is no waiting you drive in fix your bike and drive back it shouldn't take you more than few hours if the problem is adjusting your valves on a suzuki. But be ready to pay European shop prices as I know in morocco it shouldn't cost more than 20 to 30 euros to do this kind of job.
    I know in Casablanca they have Ferrari Lamborghini Bentley dealers so there should be a guy qualified mecanic to do a valve adjustment on a Suzuki, key word don't act like you don't know or not sure about anything and ask people that you would see on the road riding a big bike where they are trusted mechanics that you can go to.
    I honestly believe you fix the bike today Thursday and continue your journey wherever that might take you in morocco.
    Again worst case scenario go to Ceuta you won't need to cross the ocean on a boat, fix your bike using people that you are comfortable with and finish your trip.
    Good luck.
    #59
  20. tt100

    tt100 Been here awhile

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    What the guy above me said....

    Also, My mom told me to tell you to lighten up on the Grandma comments... SHe knows where you live
    #60