Farewell Morocco. Spain we have a problem.

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October 3rd 2019
Published: October 3rd 2019
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We are ensconced aboard the Transmediterranea Malaga but still in Port almost an hour and a half after it should have sailed! Not good for us but nothing we can do. Much Spanish spoken here, none of it sounding that friendly at the moment but again not much I can do about that either. I’m not sure who is directing traffic here or who is responsible for navigation or who for passenger boarding as everyone in any kind of uniform seems to be engaged in the animation discussion that’s going on around us. Lee has just remarked on the fact scenario, sounds busy but nothing is happening! We are comfortable in the saloon here but I’ll go for a meander soon hoping for some views and fresh air as the Malaga has that distinctive ferry diesel atmosphere that usually characterises these vessels. For several hours now we have been able to see Spain and Gibraltar so it’s frustrating sitting idle here but...

There’s a terrible ‘heart throb’ TV show on the screens here. In Spanish but with a liberal sprinkling of scantily clad females sobbing stories about heartaches (I assume). More scenes make me think it’s a ‘Big Brother’ format but I’m trying not to look now.

Still not sailing and now right on an hour and half late. Couple that with an hour and a half sailing means that Lee is a little panicked about getting to Córdoba (she may not be Robinson Crusoe!). Even with all going perfectly it will be close to 8 o’clock before we see our new home. That’s certainly beer and ham time so there’s the silver lining. Well the doors have closed, sorry Capt. Matt, do ships have doors? And one side of the ship is moving or the gangplank is! Yes it’s the gangplank. But there is an engine rumble and signs of movement which is good news for us. Ships of all shapes and sizes criss cross the Mediterranean here and on Google Maps the shipping lanes look like a kindergarten kid’s scribble pattern. Vessels are constantly visible and to my eye quite close. We are now moving on both sides so farewell Morocco.

Shame to be leaving with the shadow of doubt about ongoing travel but really we have loved our time here. It has been a repeat of our previous travels here in many ways but much has been new, novel and pleasantly surprising. We knew what to expect yet the souks and sights still manage to surprise. The people and places (and pastries) please us and the drinks and dining always delight us. One tummy upset slowed Lee for a while but really things have gone well and we have enjoyed our time here.

Spain awaits. More good eating and already assuming we can get to Córdoba I know where to go for a good ham experience and some sangria for Lee. Madrid we know will furnish us with plenty of opportunities. A city where the locals have ham and a small beer in the morning without any compunction should suit me. Córdoba will be an overnight stop and not much more. We have some time in the morning but not a lot prior to about 2 hours on the train. I’m pretty sure Madrid’s central station is the busiest in Europe and from memory it was hectic but sometimes the busier stations, of necessity, need better logistics and signage so I think we will be OK. It’s 3 or 4 nights in Madrid which we like as we get our bearings and start to feel comfortable after a day or 2 and even more comfortable after that.


The delay with the ferry saw us almost 3 hours late for our train and worse still 2 hours late for the last train from Algeciras to Córdoba. Our accommodation is booked in Córdoba and our next train leaves from there at 11:29 the next morning. No big problem? Just stay overnight and catch the early train to Córdoba to connect with the 11:29. Big problem, no train leaves early enough to connect. No big problem? Just delay the 11:29 until later that afternoon. Big problem, can’t do as we have bought in advance special discount tickets that can not be altered. The only options we have are use them or don’t use them. No big problem? Take a bus to Malaga and catch the late train. Malaga is better and has more services. Big problem, we think the bus arrives after the last train. A couple of locals suggested there may be a late bus but are uncertain. We don’t have a lot of options so to Malaga we go. By the time we arrive it’s 10:30 in the evening, dark and totally unfamiliar to us. No big problem? Big problem, no buses and no trains to Córdoba. No big problem? Now it’s taxi time or stay overnight here and book new tickets to Madrid. Found heaps of taxi service and one prepared to take us to Córdoba. I say prepared because it’s 160 km away and it’s approaching 11 o’clock! We negotiate a price, well not much negotiating really as we were quite desperate by now. In fact I probably would have handed over my first born child (sorry Sarah)! No big problem? Little problem, I had to keep the driver awake for the nearly 2 hours it took to make the journey. His little English, my little Spanish made for stilted conversation but it was enough to keep the taxi on the road. Most was counting in either language as we noted how many km to Córdoba. No big problem? Little problem. GPS is not great in old towns but between that, a couple of locals and 2 tourists and 1 driver scanning every sign we managed to locate Soho Boutique Cappacinnos Hotel, Cabira, Calle Casa de Torres. No big problem? That’s right happy ending. Lovely accommodation again but checking in at about 12:30 meant we saw nothing of Córdoba and missed having various Iberica hams at this terrific market they have in the centre of the town. It was something I had myself primed and ready for but.

Currently watching the Spanish countryside go past at 250 km/hr or so and although it appears dry and harsh, compared to the Moroccan vistas we’ve viewed lately there is colour and live here. Soon we’ll enter the orange tree areas and they are greener again. The train is very comfortable, not the seperate compartments of Moroccan rail, but an open carriage. Plenty of room for luggage and small items and good reclining seats. We have less than 2 hours on board so unlike yesterday’s 15 hours of travel we will be cool and calm as we arrive at Madrid Atocha.

Córdoba is an old town and even in the downstairs breakfast room there were examples of Roman ruins. Córdoba is spacious and looks good and just has a nice feel about it. Probably it’s well summed up when in broken English our taxi driver after finding out we were Australian said ‘I have one question’ and asked ‘do you cook with olive oil or butter?’. He was genuinely interested and quite proud when I said that I even used Spanish oil. When I think about it though I think it’s Italian oil but don’t let the truth spoil a good story.

Couple of those hilltop fortress castles starting to dot the landscape now and evoke that Don Quixote image many have of Spain (me included) but there are certainly more facets to the place. Many of the locals dress very well and carry themselves with grace and style no matter what they are doing. A couple of locals have warned us about pickpockets and grab and run thieves and consider it almost a personal slight that such a thing occurs in their country so we will have to be careful again. I’m Morocco they are happy to take your money but they do it with a smile, a tough bargaining stance, a smile and a hand shake.

Even though we are very much in the countryside I’ve been surprised at the number of supermarkets, particularly ones we recognise like Lidl (spelling? Can’t recognise it that well!). Last night as we drove in the bus from Algeciras to Malaga the coast was lined with pizza restaurants, supermarkets, hotels and apartments. It is the Costa de Sol I know but I was not prepared for the sheer number of English and the amount of English influence. Not exactly tacky but it stretched for about 100 km with very few breaks. It was like Lorne but almost endless. But that part is now ancient history as we head for Madrid.

Window time.

I’ll post now but more to come soon.

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4th October 2019

Oh, Torremolinos!
Ahoy, Rob and Lee: I've been reading your blog, and "struggled with you" (fine writing, you) for your problem-laden passage from Morocco to Cordoba. Your description of the Costa del Sol reminded me of Eric Idle (of Monty Python fame, of course) in "The Holiday" sketch. You can check it out here for a good laugh: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQODVsl5pFY Great all the way through, but his travel rant starts at the 2:30 mark. Happy travels!

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