April 2017
  • Day104

    Marrakech - The Medina & Palaces

    August 8, 2017 in Morocco ⋅ ⛅ 44 °C
  • Day98

    The Ourika Valley, High Atlas Mountains

    August 2, 2017 in Morocco ⋅ ☀️ 33 °C

    The main reason I visit Marrakech is to get up into the High Atlas Mountains among ochre villages that cling to the side of steep semi arid mountains with thier lush valleys. The views from the winding mountain roads, many just gravel tracks, are stunning. First on the agenda is the Ourika Valley, just 30km from Marrakech and easiy accessible. This is a steep valley at the head of which are 5 waterfalls that tumble down the steep mountainside. Its a tiring uphill hike to get to the waterfalls but well worth it when you crest the final hill and look out over a steep cliff to the waterfalls both below and above you.

    After hiking back down the the valey and the river its time to relax at one of the many riverside restaraunts with tables and chairs actually in the river. Its very cool just to sit there with feet in the cold rushing water while consuming a hot and hearty chicken Tagine slow cooked with figs.... yum!
    Read more

  • Day96

    Salem Marrakech

    July 31, 2017 in Morocco ⋅ 🌙 30 °C

    I love Morocco; the sounds and smells, the food, the people and the laid back lifestyle. Always a pleasure to be able to visit Marrakesh with its ancient Medina of narrow alleys and myriad shops and Riads in the maze like alleyways. The Riads are spectacular, so cool and opulent even when the sun is beating down and its 40C outside; the Riad with its courtyards, fountaiins and shaded spaces is a haven of peace and tranquility in this busy and bustling city.Read more

  • Day96

    Hurry Up and Wait - travel in the 21st C

    July 31, 2017 in Portugal ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

    The main lesson my epic journey through 8 countries over 3 months (so far) has taught me is patience. Travel in the 21st century is very much 'hurry up and wait'. With bursts of very fast travel - except on Amtrak - punctuated by long periods of waiting and enduring the inconvenience and inhumanity of long security checks, body scanners and fingerprint machines.

    In many cases these uncomfortable and unseemly experiences are mediated by machines and all seeing cameras rather than by humans. You can't smile nicely at a machine and get away with being 1kg over the limit... Its pay now or wait wait wait! In fact being directed to a human manned station is likely to result in even more time lost to the vagaries of 21st century air travel. There are far less people than there once where and far more machines. But then I remember the hay days of air travel in the late 80's and early 90's when arriving in a suit and smiling nicely at the check-in girls would get you a free upgrade to business or first class on flights that even in economy where never fulll and in which you had plenty of room. But that was before code-share and the economics of cramming ever more people into the same space to make more money. The photo is of a new TAP Airbus A320 plane done up in the livery of thier 70's jets... pining for the golden age of air travel.

    The only place where travel is fast, smooth, on time and wait free is actually in Japan. I am still marvelling at the efficiency and magic of the Shinkansen and public transport in general in wonderful Japan. If you avoid air travel in Japan it's a brilliant travel experience. That said I did arrive by air in Golden Week and through Narita. Haneda was actually a very nice experince on departure.

    Air travel everywhere is full of the same indignities and long waits. It is amazing how each airport and airline differs though. Many times I have been caught out by different carry-on weight or size limits and my carry on bag has ended up travelling in the hold more often than not. What ever happened to the good old days of 15kg or higher limits in bags which comply with most airlines size restrictions? Roll on my BA trip back to NZ, they allow me two bags up to 23kg as carry-on. Beware TAP Portugal (an 8kg limit) or Flybe with its tiny size restrictions... and then they have the audacity to charge you to put it in the hold or charge extortionate prices for every kg over the check-in allowance. Air fares are getting like Mobile phone plans,;so complicated and different for each supplier that you need to spend hours reading the small print. Oh well I guess you can use some of the endless wait times for that :-)

    Theres the wait in the airports; the wait to go somewhere and then the wait on the plane; the wait to get somewhere. Plenty of time to wait wait wait but always the joy and relief of finally arriving.

    I have finally arrived in Marrakech, Morocco, my pen-ultimate country, so stay tuned for some tales from the Medina :-)
    Read more

  • Day84

    DK of NSGB & NI

    July 19, 2017 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ☁️ 15 °C

    Back in the Disunited Kingdom of not so Great Britain & Northen Ireland for a few days...

    With Brexit in full flow it is not too far a streatch to imagine a bunch of new countries coming to these green and pleasant islands soon. England & Wales together but alone in the world, Scotland & Northern Ireland independant and part of the Scandinavian bloc and remaining in the EU and the City State of London, more powerful than all of them but equally alone; surrounded as it would be by the English & Welsh country :-)

    A fortified customs border between England and Scotland... a new Hadrians Wall? A road bridge connecting Scotland & N Ireland? A Walled London with a Tunnel from the City to the Channel Tunnel?

    The Celtic Union, Waland (or Enges) and the European City State of London

    The mind boggles...

    Some fascinating Infographic maps and commentary here: http://geographical.co.uk/places/mapping/item/1805-cartogram-special-brexit
    and here: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/06/24/world/europe/how-britain-voted-brexit-referendum.html
    Read more