Gary Murphy


Gary Murphy

Various attempts to get to the Sahara...

Europe » Spain » Basque Country » Bilbao June 3rd 2012

I normally finish these trips with an Epilogue which is kind of a Gary’s Do’s and Don’ts of the trip. A mix of lessons learned and things I would do better/differently/avoid like the plague next time. I have travelled a fair bit – in my early twenties I spend 4 months across the US and then subsequently 18 months across Australia and South East Asia. Latterly on the bike I have also made several trips – although sometimes ending in broken limbs. Always I have set off solo. However Biking around Morocco on your own would be pretty hard work and I wouldn’t recommend it at all. There was so much hassle that you needed two pairs of eyes, so one could watch bikes et al whilst the other changed money or whatever the order of ... read more

Europe » Spain » Castile & León » Salamanca June 2nd 2012

We had three days to cover the 650 miles from Malaga to Bilbao, allowing a more touristique route to be taken. Having ridden 250 miles the day previous to Caceres we elected to just scoot up to Salamanca a mere 125 miles north of Caceres today. This left about 270 miles to cover on Saturday to make the evening ferry from Bilbao. Salamanca has the reputation of being the Spanish’s favourite city and it is quickly apparent why. A magnificent square is perhaps the centrepiece but it is thronged all around by superb architecture. The University’s inner courtyards rivalled those of the Cambridge colleges and the Cathedral and other buildings of the old city, churches and municipal, mesmerising. Added to this the town had a wonderfully relaxed atmosphere and the ambience of a feel-good student town ... read more
Salamanca square
Salamanca Architecture
More Salamanca Architecture

Europe » Spain » Extremadura » Cáceres June 1st 2012

It was hairdryer hot. The temperature displays in Seville showed a giddying 41C and my bike thermo more or less agreed registering 40C. I opened my jacket but the effect of the hot air hitting my chest actually made me hotter, so I zipped it up again. It was overcast but the air temperature here was actually hotter than the Sahara, which was typically mid-thirties – the killer there being the effect of being in the sun which probably pushed the effective in-the-sun temperature north of 50C. Seville looked a pleasant enough city and there were some beautiful buildings around, but if it was this hot I doubted I would ever make a trip here. I reasoned that whoever programmed the navigation engine of the Garmin had to be female. The only thing predictable about it ... read more
Breakfast at the Parador

Africa » Morocco » Tangier-Tétouan » Asilah May 30th 2012

Given we had ridden so many amazing routes during our tenure in Morocco we could hardly be disappointed that today’s ride wasn’t one of them. We had elected to head for Larache, which sounded a pleasant enough Atlantic coast resort and allegedly had a top end boutique hotel, the Hotel Riad which would offer a welcome change from the sub-backpacker standard of our smelly Meknes Riad. Studying the map we felt it would be far more interesting to cut through the countryside rather than sit on a dull motorway via Rabat but we needn’t have bothered. If Morocco is some kind of world centre for sh*t driving then the epicentre of sh*tness had to be Tangier. As you drew closer to Tangier so it seemed the worse the standards of driving became. We had ridden through ... read more
Asilah Ramparts
Me at Asilah
Asilah Medina Arch

Africa » Morocco » Meknès-Tafilalet » Midelt May 28th 2012

This short video clip is just an example of the Video shot using the superb Go Pro head cam. The only problem is the size of the files, some up to 3Gb. This is the smallest one we have at 40Mb, which will still take an age to upload. Should play/download OK though.... read more

Africa » Morocco » Meknès-Tafilalet » Meknes May 28th 2012

The Hotel Taddart in Midelt was perfectly comfortable, it was just rather soulless. It had barely opened and thus had a rather odd ambience about it. An overly large and wannabe grand reception area, adorned with Morocco’s best weaves draped on the floors, was deserted and ornately carved alabaster aside it had the feel of the Overlook (Overreach?) hotel – or whatever the hotel is called in The Shining. It was standard almost formulaic 4* fare and it could have easily been in the Algarve, apart from costing a third as much. But we weren’t complaining it seemed absolute luxury just to be out of the southern heat. The Sahara was fantastic but it was heavy going and riding at any time of the day after 10 am borderline unbearable. And we weren’t even quite yet ... read more
Monkeys 2
They cut a piece off one of these, grilled it and we ate it...
The Riad Courtyard

Africa » Morocco » Meknès-Tafilalet » Merzouga May 27th 2012

After Thursday’s 10 hour ride, the latter half in crippling heat, I reasoned that I had a right to feel tired that evening but more than that I was totally exhausted and barely able to move. A couple of hours later the reason for this became all too apparent as the bug I picked up in Fes surfaced with ferocity and I was eventually unable to move from my bed for the next 36 hours, save for (very frequent) trips to the loo. I did try once to leave the room to get some more water, but only made it a few feet from the door before being overcome and from then on sent texts to Vince when I needed something. He was brilliant but never short of a quip or 10 this led to his ... read more
What do you mean you need a GS??!
Camels at early light

Africa » Morocco » Meknès-Tafilalet » Erfoud May 24th 2012

We decided to ride straight from Fes to the Sahara dunes because the map showed little of interest for a stopover, a fact reinforced by the shabby settlements we were to later pass en route. As Vince would say decidedly “one-horse”. We figured we could always duck out at Midelt or Er-Rachidia if we were just too fatigued. It would have been a long day’s ride on European roads with European standards of driving – the Morocco factor doubling the effort required. Unusually we decided to take heed from the folly of our previous departure at midday and determined to set off early to get as much riding as possible before the heat of the day started proper. Panniers packed from the night before and arising at 6 am had us under way before 7. It ... read more
Nothing for miles
Who needs Imodium when confronted with this?
At the start of the off road piste

Africa » Morocco » Fès-Boulemane » Fes May 23rd 2012

Sensibly we chose to leave Chefchaouen for Fez at midday, so we would be en route in the hottest part of the day. Sure enough the temp gauge quickly rose to 30C and in full motorbike kit anything black attracted the full ferocity of the North African sun. It was hot and tiring work. The road out of the Rif yielded visual treats aplenty and the road snaked enough to be interesting, without being that technical. But you had to concentrate like f*ck and you certainly would have been foolhardy to corner at anything like close to the limit. You never knew what was round the corner – a suicidal truck driver trying blind overtakes with near head-on misses ahead, or homicidal maniacs cutting the corner forcing you off line. Both were commonplace. The road surface ... read more
Room for 1 more bale?
In the medina
Walking the medina

Africa » Morocco » Tangier-Tétouan » Chefchaouen May 22nd 2012

We set off for Tarifa, both now on F800GS, via the superb A-355(?) which swooped around the foothills of Marbella, winding slowly through its descent of the hills. As we approached the coast you were rewarded with pristine vistas of the med, dropping away far to your left in an azure blue sky and you could clearly see Gibraltar sat up proud and arrogant. Once we hit the coast motorway there was less interest until it again climbed near to Tarifa and at last you could see Africa looming as close as the Isle of Wight. Surely even Vince’s stomach would hold for that? Err no. We messed up the ferry times so had a 2 hour wait at the dock, but finally the catamaran got underway. Once Vince’s yawn rate exceed more than 2 a ... read more
Telephoto lens necessary
North African light...
Bruce trying his hand at driving the medina

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