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 was its unpredictability. One day it couldn’t get you onto a motorway fast enough and would seemingly attempt to divert you miles to get on one, lobbying you with a barrage of “recalculating” instructions as you ignored it, yet today it had shunned the bypass around Seville and plunged us right into the centre. You left each set of traffic lights a dripping mess
and after 45 minutes in the traffic we had to dive into an air conditioned plaza for a drink.
We had set off from Asilah the day before at lunch with the aim of making the mid afternoon ferry from Tangier back to Spain. We had not ridden one motorway mile in Morocco and today we similarly ignored it and took the coast road into Tangier. Mile after mile of beautiful undeveloped coastline greeted us and apart from the relentless afternoon Atlantic wind battering us it was a pleasant ride. As we drifted into Tangier we played the roundabouts game – there was one in particular that was completely nuts. Having survived it when I suggested to Vince we go round again with the Go Pro on to video it he looked at me as if I was insane – and he did have a point, so we didn’t, but the multi lane carnage was almost impossible to describe. It would have made amazing video footage. In Tangier anything goes from a driving perspective – cars just pull out randomly from everywhere and anywhere. I always rode in the UK expecting cars at junctions to pull out on you
as a defence mechanism – here it was a reality.
The formalities at the port seemed fairly trivial compared to our arrival – either we had become more localised or it was just easier, probably a bit of both but we more or less sailed through. Still I did my usual and attempted to speed through customs. In my defence there is a plethora of people always trying to get you to stop the bike to sell you something, generally in Morocco and particularly at the port – how was I to know when I actually should stop instead of smile and make off? I did the same with the chap taking out tickets – still despite just doing his job he still wanted “un petit cadeaux”.
It was a rough crossing, but I slept and Vince did too so he had no sickness. Exiting the ferry I nearly lamped a chap in a transit who thought it sensible to nudge my bike, fully laden and with me on it, but after a delivering a barrage of shouted expletives I calmed down and finally we were back in Europe. Probably just as well he sat impassive at my delivery, there wasn’t actually a lot left of me and I had kind of forgotten that. A quick bite at the port and we set off for BMWMoto in Teba, via ferocious winds coming off the straights and a peachy view of Gibraltar as we first climbed and then dropped back to sea level. Presently we were taking a breathtaking road to Ronda. The road climbed from sea level to about 4000ft flip-flopping back and forth on pristine roads – it was a hoot. Stunning views of a lush green canopy carpeting the mountainside to our left, only adding to the experience. It was an area laden with fantastic bike rides – no wonder there were so many new bike releases here and it cropped up in the mags so often.
When Vince saw his beloved GTR at Teba I thought he was going to sleep the night on it. But evidently sitting astride his uber comfortable machine and a few pets satiated his needs for now. After a bit of map studying we decided to take a different route up to Bilbao and determined upon Caraces as our night stop – which fitted exactly the 250 miles we planned for the day. Tripadvisor had some good reviews of the Parador there so I keyed it into the GPS and we set off.
Caraces was a mega find and the Parador even more so. Set in the 14th Century part of town, and indeed in an exquisitely converted 14th Century building it was the mutts. Seeing the state of us (it was still 35C here) the (rather attractive) receptionist upgraded us to bigger rooms and as a result it was an absolute bargain.
Walking the locale the beautiful 14th C walkways gave way to views of a wide open square down below which wasn’t as old but no less attractive. This place was a hidden gem and worthy of a weekend trip in its own right. It must have been some kind of centre for Iberico ham – because it was themed everywhere and one restaurant offered you 8 different grades, right up to Bellota 5*. Result – I love the stuff, and Vince normally has a whole one on the go in his studio.
The hotel restaurant gardens were peerless and we scoffed Bellota ham and local cured meats followed by roasted lamb. It was brilliant to finally have some great food. I had been surprised at the food in Morocco, as I love tagines and couscous, but the food even when well prepared was incredibly unvaried, and that was when it wasn’t trying to poison you. I would strongly advise anyone not to eat salads in Morocco as I am now almost certain that is what led to my sickness. As Vince delighted in telling anyone that would listen, apparently I asked for my salads washed in rank 15 year old donkey p*ss. Although that is obviously for effect, sadly in somewhere like Fes’s El-Bali medina it probably isn’t that far from the truth – donkeys, the mainstay of medina transport there, lived right next to people in incredibly cramped and absolutely stinking conditions so the water supply was likely pretty fetid.
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