Saturday, October 29, 2011

Marrakech to Palma de Mallorca

Ryan Air:
Ryan Air is interesting.  Cheap flights.  No Frills.  NO FRILLS.  All you get for the price of your ticket, is a seat and one carry-on of 10 kilos or less.  That is one carry-on. ONE ..... not a carry-on and a personal item.  EVERYTHING else costs extra. 
- A chekced bag - extra. 
- Bag of peanuts - extra.  
- A soda - extra.
- If you pay for your checked bag at the ticket counter - extra.  You must declare and pay for the checked bag when you check in online or - extra. That is, you pay for the checked bag and an additional 40 euros ($60) service charge if you do it at the ticket counter.
- If they print the boarding pass - extra. 
- Reserved seat - NOT extra.  Because NOT possible.  First people on, get the seat of their choice.  Last on ..... gets whatever is left. The line at the boarding gate was just short of a slug-fest.
- Licensed pilot - extra (kidding).
- We were going to take a pic of the plane - but we were afraid of an extra charge.
-  Use the toilet - I heard they were pay toilets.  But that may just be a rumor.  Didn't check it out.
- Board and exit the plane - walk across the tarmac.  They don't even rent a boarding ladder.  It is built into the plane.  I am surprised we didn't have to use the emergency exit and climb off the wing.
- Seats don't recline.
- Advertising posters on the inside of the cabin.
- In flight entertainment.  Gee, you think?

The real job of the flight attendant is to sell products during the flight.  They are constantly cruising the plane with carts of things to sell.  Even lottery tickets.  Ryan Air has their own lattery scam.  I saw a lot of people buy the Ryan Air lottery tickets ... but I saw no winners.
Gotta love this airline.

Palma de Mallorca:
On the Island of Mallorca.  East off the coast of Spain, In the Med. It is a beautiful city. Not really seeng the sights here, though  We catch the cruise tomorrow for the last stage of the trip.  2 weeks crossing the Atlantic and docking in Panama.  We have a few ports of call .... Canary Islands (no canaries there) and a few places in the Carribean.

It has bee a fabulous 4 weeks.  But,looking forward to a couple weeks of REST on the ship.

Upcoming blog ..... DO's and DONT's when visiting Morocco.

for the last of the pics.

Life is sweet,

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Last Day in Marrakech

We are leaving Marrakech and Morocco tomorrow.  Memorable.  Different.  Exceeded my hopes / expectations at the same time as falling short.  Great experience.

Chuck, Brennie and Nancy all came down with some degree of not feeling so good.  I did everything I could to to join them, but so far am unphased.  I have always loved street food and have eaten my share of it here.  Brenda says that I will probably end up with a tapeworm or one of it's little buddies.  Maybe. The dates and figs!  Wow!

Made some little snake friends.
The snake owners tried to charge me about $50.
I laughed and gave them pocket change. 
I would have been a little more generous,
but was outraged by their demand of $50.
Still it was fun .... for me.

Cuenca has street dogs ... lots.
Morocco has cats.
Most of them are (look) amazingly healthy.
They are very friendly and will come rub up against you.
I really like them.
They don't charge to have their pics taken.

Olives.  Lots of olives.
I am going to miss the olives.
They are served with every meal and
are really good in all their varieties.

Sometimes it seems like the whole country spells of spices.

to see the last of the Morocco pics

Life is sweet,

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Marrakech Trivia and Haircut (etc)

The Trivia:
- The mint tea is great. A simple recipe. Fresh mint and hot water.  Sugar optional.
- The call to prayer (5 times a day). I love hearing it. It is done from each mosque. So if you are surrounded by mosques .... It is super-bob cool.
- Two main languages spoken here. Arabic and French. The French is pleasing to my ear. The Arabic ... exotic. So .... here is the question? Why do I try to speak Spanish to everyone?
- Our riad has a balcony overlooking the big square at the center of the medina. We can hear all the flutes (?) and drums constantly ..... from the snake charmers. Also very cool.
- I bought a bunch of fresh dates and figs from one of the many stalls on the square. I am sure I overpaid. But they are GOOD.
- The Brennie and I are spending the day on the roof of the raid .... and loving every minute of it. We are feeling no need to go out into the throng.
- Local hustlers have been calling me Ali Babba because of my beard.

The Haircut, Shave and Beard Trim:
Stepped out to find a medina barber.  Walked down progressivly narrower streets.  Found my barber.  Watched the customer in front of me.  Interesting multi-step process with lots of head rubbing and the fastest scissors I have ever seen.  Went from one part of the head to the other and back again and again and again.  The straight razor came out more than once for edging and other stuff too.  Not really the same process I am used to.  But a great show. 

My turn.  Haircut communicaton is a challenge in any language.  But what the hell, I really don't care. Short and not a Mohawk.  Got the haircut complete with all the flourishes  It was so much fun, that I let him do the beard too.  Lost most of the hair above my neck today.  But hey.  My hair is short.  It will grow out quick, I have had worse and I have given myself worse.  I doubt that I will be called Ali Babba any more.

Chuck and Nancy got a couple bracelets that I covet.  I am really jealous.  I want one too.. Maybe Nancy will post a pic.  I won't.  I am bitter.

Flower and plant market. Duh. 

Hey Randy ..... this is the moto of choice here. 
100's of them.

They come in Yamaha, too.

These guys were friendly as little puppies.
Loved getting their pics taken.
They weren't quite as cheerful when I refused to pay them 150 Dh ($18) each.
They grabbed my arm to try to get it.
I settled on 20 Dh ($2.40) total when I pulled my arm away
and moved on despite their unhappiness

for all (7) of today's pics

Life is sweet,

Monday, October 24, 2011

On the Train to Marrakech

Who was it that had that song so many years ago ..... The Marrakech Express? Was it Crosby. Stills, Nash and Young?

It's odd. When we were in southern Spain, it hadn't rained in over 120 days. Here in North Africa, it has rained .... hard rain, the last 3 nights. Not what I expected. Also cooler and more humid. It is the later part of October. Maybe that has something to do with it.  Then again, what you expect is often not what you get.

I bought a rubber watch from a street vendor in Madrid. $6. Chuck keeps eyeballing it. He won't admit it, but he covets it. It is like one of those snap bracelets. But covered with rubber and has a watch.  It is pretty bitchin'. The Brennie got one too.

Still on the train .......
I made a lovely new friend on the train today.  She got on the train about half way between Fes and Marrakech (in Rabat I think).  She had a seat in our compartment ..... reserved seating in 1st class.  But, I believe that she was the rudest most aggresive person I have ever met.  Truly ugly.  Unbelievable.  It really pissed me off.  So .... I out-ruded her.  I out-nasty-attituded her.  I out-aggressed her.  Kind of surprised myself.  I don't know if I am really proud or really ashamed.  Apparently not too ashamed as I am blogging about it.  Anyway ..... if anyone needs lessons in true rudeness with a sprinkiling of hostility ..... I am your guy.

Made it to Marrakech .........
Got at the riad (old home converted to hotel / guest house) right before dark.  Went out to dinner.  Will explore tomorrow.

Brennie took this great pic walking away from the train. 

Rooftop view after dinner.

The Central square right after we arrived.
From our rooftop.
We have a great location.
Once again, Chuck did good.

Weaving our way through the Medina to our Riad.

for pics of today.

Life is sweet,

PS:  Did I mention that I didn't like that gal on the train today?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Fes - Day 2 and 3


Parts of the Medina (old town) are over 1200 years old.  And we have been to those parts.  Impossible to describe.  9000+ small streets and allies.  Confusing as all get out.  Each one is more interesting than the last.  Fes is the oldest continually occupied city in ......... was it Morocco, Africa, the world?  I don't know.  Somewhere.

We hired a guide yesterday as a group.  Each couple returned at least a couple times today.  Took a taxi tour around the outside of the Medina.  We went down strets (that are 1200+ years old.  Really mind boggling.  What an ancient culture.  Ate a lot of authentic food ....... some great and yummy ...... some a little foreign to my palate (sp?)  Sat outside in sidewalk cafes drinking really good coffee.  Brenda was usually the only woman there except when Nancy was with us.  We could stay here a month and not even scratch the surface of the place.

Feeling much more coomfortable today than yesterday.  We will see if that comfort will transfer to Marakesh tomorrow.
Look closely.
Can you figure out what kind of meat is sold here?

Ancient water clock.
Worked great until the French destroyed it in the 1950's.

1000 year old cedar door.
We saw a couple of the old doors that were open.  They ar about 4" thick.
Metal workers area.
Finished metal work.
Unbelievable carpets for sale.
All hand made and using natural dyes.
There is an old wall surrounding the Medina.
This is one of the gates into it.
The wall is either 45 or 60 kilometers long depending on who you talk to.
Moroccon Wal-Mart
No vehicles in the Medina.
They would never fit.
This is a Medina delivery truck.  Saw lots of these little guys.
The other type of deliveryy truck is a hand cart.
There is a free vet hospital for the donkies (mules?) .
Camel meat in some white goop.
Not refrigerated.
I believe the 'goop' is camel lard (from the hump) and olive oil.
We also saw it displayed in other ways that looke like a volcano.
Not sure.  But not new construction.
At the ceramics cooperative.
I guess if you have to be imprisoned ....
This is not a bad way to go.
Hi Nancy.
Wster seller?
We had to pay to take his picture.
So maybe he is selling photo ops?

The old and famous leather tanneries and dye works.
All the dyes are natural.
Examples:  mint is used for green dye.  poppies for red, pomegranate skins for yellow.
'Interesting' smell from this view. 
No restaurants (is that spelled right?) nearby.

I passed up the opportunity to eat a camel burger.  I hope that I can forgive myself.  I have had bufallo and elk burgers.  But not here. I have also eaten alligator and I think that I ate snake when I was younger, but doubt that I held it down for long.  So that probably doesn't count.  I do regret not eating the fried grasshopper in Mexico.  And of course ..... cuy in Ecuador.  And, oh yeah, I ate at McDonalds in Tangier.  They call the McDonalds 'The American Embassy'.


for the rest of the Fes pics.

Life is sweet,


Friday, October 21, 2011

Train to Fez and .......
Another City ..... Another Dump

Train to Fez:
On the train now from Tangier to Fes. Really looking forward to Fes. Just ate some cheese that we bought last night. Gouda with cumin seeds. Beyond words yummy. Will buy more of that if I can ...... every day.

Later but still on the train .... Busted out the peanut butter that I bought last night. Yummy. It's not JIF. But at least it tastes pretty close. So apparently it has at least some of the right stabilizers, additives and preservatives required to make a good peanut butter. Also had a pear/apple thing. Also will pronounce it good.

Not bad.

Interesting ....... ( still on the train ). We have had two men joining us in our compartment. Each one he's claimed to have a seat in the compartment. They stay in the compartment in 'their seat' long enough to hustle us with their services, then find an excuse to leave.  We were told this would happen.

Another city ..... Another Dump:
That darn Chuck Watson arranged this horrid place for us to stay here in the Medina (old town) in Fez.  I took a short walk in the Medina ....... really easy to get lost.  Came home before I could get totally lost.  9000 twisty turny little streets and alleies  Mind boggling.  Will take a tour tomorrow with someone to hold our hands.

Anyway ..... back to the dump we are in tonight and for the next 2 miserable nights .... that darn Chuck.

See what I mean?
A dump.
Pretty yucky.
Worae yet.  Like Casa Ordonez in Cuenca, this is an old (OLD) family home that has been restored .
The Brennie checking out the rooftop view.

for other train and dump pics.

Life is sweet,

Thursday, October 20, 2011


NOTE:  Re typos and misspellings:  I am working on a cheesy old Netbook.   The screen is small ..... to small for me to see any typos or misspelled words.  It was one of the first to be produced.  It is SLOW ..... painfully so.  This makes re-enterring the blog editor very tedious.  So, for these blogs ....... there is no re-write or editing.  It is just too gruesome.  The spell checker tags every word as none of them are in Arabic.  Okey-dokey.  Moving on.......

Tangier Overview:
Tangier is an ancient city.  For many years it was an international city ruled by the French, British and Spanish (I think).  As a result, once it belonged solely to Morocco, there was some 'attitude' towards it and it was much neglected by Morocco.  With the coming of the new king, several years ago, he decided that Morocco needed some long overdue attention.  What you see here is a city, trying to recover from long neglect.  There is much new building ..... but not too much completed.  In many ways, large parts of it are a construction zone.

Overview Part 2:
Tangier is a border town with lots of tourism and single day tourinsts that come over from Spain on the ferry.  As with other tourinsty border towns, it is possible to lose some of the "what you came to see or experience".  There is an amazing amount of 'hussle' here.  I refer to the meaning of huslte as in     getting hustled. Especially if you are an obvious visitor.  It can take some of the thrill off if you let it.  Example:  The ferry we took lands about 20 or 30 miles outside of town.  They do provide busses into town.  The second you get off the bus, you are surrounded by people 'offering their services'.

Moving on:
We arrived yesteday and after checking into the hotel, the Brennie and I took a walk for about 4 hours.  We walked along the beach and into old town ..... the Medina.  We made our firwst friend there.  A junky named Hassam.  He really wanted to be our guide and even after we told him (maybe 20 times) 'NO', he still followed us for blocks. Go into a store .... he is waiting for us.  Tell him 'no'.  Reverse directions to lose him ...... no such luck.  He finally gave up after I ceased to be even remotely polite.  It was interesting.  Not fun.  But, not horrible.  Interesting..

Anyway, we cruised the Medina for a while.  There are 900+ small streets and alleys and everyine is selling something.  For those of you in Cuenca, the closest I can come to describe it is Ferria Libre.  But real different.

Brennie and I returned to the Medina today,  and the Casbah, and the souks.  But we had a hsutler/guide with us.  One thing the hustler/guide did was keep the other hustlers away from us.  Beside, he was our hustler.

I have really enjoyed this city, but look forward to going to Fes tomorrow.  We are taking the train ..... about 4 hours

In the fish market.

O the ferry leaving Spain.

Directions are clearly marked
making it impossible to get lost.

Map of the Medina
is really handy.  NOT!

Gate to the Casah.
The Casbah is famous because of one corny line in a bad movie.
But you gotta go there.

Another gate to the Medina.
Looking from the inside to the (duh) outside.

Inside the Casbah.

Community oven in the Medina.
People bring their food in to be cooked.

Quiz #1
What is this?

for all the Tangier pics

Life is Sweet,

PS:  We are having a ball!!!  It is great to be traveling with Chuck and Nancy.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Nerja, Larry & Liza, Gibraltar and This Dump of a Hotel

We left Granada behind yesterday and drove south to the Costa del Sol for our first glimpse of the Mediterranean. I can see now why so many people choose to retire to the Costa del Sol. Really …… I mean REALLY nice. Pretty hard to describe but I will try …….. The sun coast on the Med. How’s that? We stopped at Nerja.

We passed one of the white hill towns on the way to the coast.  The white helps keep the houses cool as it reflects the sone.  The whitewaah also has something in it to repel bugs.
Nerja: AKA the balcony of Europe. Brenda wants to come back here for a month. I agree. Look it up on the old Internet. You will understand. Again. Lots of retirees. Can’t blame them.

Nerja is called the Balcony of Europe.
It sits on a bluff overlooking the Med.
For pics of Nerja
The pic of the pebbles is of the beach. 
Some is sand,
Some is pebbles of all different sizes. 
Very cool.

Larry and Liza: We continued on from Nerja to see Larry and Liza in Coin. We had a lovely evening catching up with them. We were a little tired so tried to tuck in early because this AM we went to Gibraltar.
We enjoyed talking so much the camera rarely got taken out. 
Therefore a pretty pic in a grocery store.

Gibraltar: A bit of jolly old England in the shadow of a HUGE rock ….. called amazingly The Rock of Gibraltar. It is pretty hard to describe. It is a massive rock inhabited by ape/monkey things. At the base of the rock is a couple square miles of British territory. From the rock, you can see: the Atlantic Ocean, Mediterranean Sea, Spain, Morocco and that little bit of England. The ‘rock’ has a long and interesting history which I won’t bother you with. Fascinating day.
The rock.  (bad pic)

Morocco in the distance.

Brennie showing where swhe wants to be kissed.
The rock is full of caves.  Some are natural and we only have two lousy pics of them.
There is also a whole military history of tunneling and cannon placements inside the rock. 
I loved it..

My new best friend.
For pics of Gibraltar

Hotel Dumpo: We are a few miles outside down coast of Gibraltar tonight in Algeceras. This is our last night in Spain. We head over to Morocco tomorrow on the ferry. Gulp. Unfortunately, we had to stay in this dump.

What a wreck!

For pics of This Dump

It has been a very busy 2 days.  The Brennie is asleeep.  She had a choice .... dinner or sleep.  I'll wake her for breakfast.

Life is Sweet,