Saturday, February 14, 2015

From Morocco to Spain

I am beginning this post with a comment from one of my faithful readers, Joanne, who was unable to post the comment to the blog for some reason. Her feelings are similar to ours.

"I recall the effort it took to spend our last few bits of Moroccan currency before we left Tangier for the ferry - there were countless T shirt vendors by the hotel door, but I was able to purchase a charming turquoise-like bracelet instead. And when we got off the ferry back in Spain I was not the only person on the tour who felt like kneeling and kissing the ground. What had been a country foreign to us 6 days earlier now felt like home after the time in Morocco - like you, we experienced ups and downs. Andalusia is wonderful, the Alhambra and its gardens quite fascinating, and the seafood dinners we had were great. And then there is the requirement to gain familiarity with the variety of sherries...."

While I didn't think about kissing the ground, it was a relief to be in Spain... When we left the guesthouse in Tangier, we were fully intending to hail a taxi to the port, however there were none to be had. We ended up walking through the medina...and of course when we entered the medina, a man appeared..."hotel?" No, we said, we're leaving! Going to the port. "This way" he said, and so we followed, knowing that guiding us through the medina was a way for him to extract some small money, which of course wasn't being spent on a taxi. And because he did get us to the opposite side directly without detouring through any shops, he got his coin. To the port within 20 minutes of leaving the guesthouse...bought our tickets...and past security, where much to our surprise was yet another young man to lead us to the pier. He also asked for small money, and Lloyd said, "no, I've spent it all!" Yikes, right up to the very end we are approached by people wanting money for services like this.

Lloyd did in fact have 21DH in coin, and was able to trade it with a Moroccan passenger for Euros in order to buy me a café con leche on the ferry.

We were early for the 10:30 departure, but we were allowed on and much to our amazement almost every seat was taken by women dressed in conservative Moroccan style, chatting and laughing together, surrounded by lots of luggage. We're not sure but we think we were witnessing the transporting of African goods for sale in Europe. They went a different direction from us when leaving the ferry in Spain so we'll never know for sure.

The ferry fare included transport by coach from Tarifa to Algeciras. From the port was a short 500 m walk to the train station to buy tickets for the next day to Ronda (where we are now for another 2 nights). Then a cab to the, a new car, no rust, no squeaks, quiet! And no haggling--he used the meter! (But it probably cost double what it would have in Morocco) Algeciras is across the harbour from Gibraltar, and we had thought of going there, however the weather was drizzly. We contented ourselves with admiring the Rock looming in and out of the fog while having a late lunch.

The train trip from Algeciras to Ronda was very scenic, through rolling farmland bathed in morning mist to distant craggy mountains. We arrived mid morning, and walked to the hotel straightaway. We're at the Don Javier near the Puente Nuevo or new bridge, built in the late 1700s, an engineering marvel that crosses a narrow and deep gorge separating the old town (dating from the time of the Moors) 

to the new. Here are some views from the promenade and from the bridge...
Almond trees are blooming (pale pink)

The Puente Nuevo just as the sun was going down...

This morning we went on a walk down the path below the bridge to look at the original water mill

Looking back at the bridge from below...
"Joyce" irises were blooming...

And then walked along a country road back into the western edges of Ronda, admiring the town perched on the edge of the cliffs.

We're definitely in "holiday" mode here...spent a few hours snoozing this afternoon! I have picked up a head cold which doesn't help. Lloyd is still healthy, so far...

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