Final days on the Atlantic Coast of Morocco-Volubilis Moulay Bousselham and Asilah

From Fez to the Atlantic Coast one passes Volubilis, the ruins of a Roman city close to Meknes. The site is most recognised for its intact mosaic floors.

Volubilis was basically deserted when Fez became the centre of power in Morocco.

The northern part of Morocco between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean is rich fertile farming land.

Moulay Bousselham is a small fishing town on the Atantic coast with a large inland lake which is a major site for endemic and migratory birds.

The ocean here is quite wild and the beach strewn with rubbish so the estuary is the towns main attraction. As well as the fishing boats and market.

And it’s at the fish market that you may find a guide to take you bird watching. Or more accurately he will find you as you stop at the gates of the camping ground that has closed down.

But the Moulay Bousselham estuary is a fantastic site for bird watching and a 3 hour boat tour with Khalil is great. You see;

Greater Flamingos

Spoonbills

Egrets

And an array of gulls, terns, storks, cranes and plovers.

The Atlantic here is wild a steep shore and cross currents from the tidal river making it treacherous.

The estuary provides a safe place to swim after unfortunately picking a path through the litter.

It is such a beautiful beach such a shame the litter is so overwhelming.

Asilah is another beach town a couple of hours north of Moulay Bousselham along the coast. It’s also only a short ride from Tanger and the last night in Morocco was spent there.

The Medina, built within the old Portugese fort is mainly residential with a strong art presence. It was in Spanish control into the 1970s and still retains a strong Spanish influence.

I think I can leave my tales of Morocco here. What an amazing journey saw so much but I feel I missed so much more.

There was Belgian couple at the Hotel in Rissani. They had travelled to Morocco 9 time 7 on a motorbike. Mmm so Im thinking a second trip will not be too indulgent!!!

The Ferry from Santander to Portsmouth

Santander is capital of the Spanish Provence of Cantabria and a major seaside city. Beaches and a ferry port all part of the the mix the city offers.

It was so different leaving Santander March 2 years ago when the pandemic and a lockdown drove me out of Spain. http://piecemealadventurer.com/2020/03/23/travelling-in-the-time-of-coronavirus-the-last-ferry-from-santander/

A beautiful summers day a yacht on the water sailing alongside the ferry.

As it left the harbour

Up on deck we spotted whales in the Bay of Biscay Abyss. Can you see the spout?

Agh how I missed the sight of the open sea when I was confined to cabin. At that time, like all of us, unaware how much time confined to hotel rooms, to our houses and neighbourhoods lay ahead.

How amazing to travelling internationally adventuring and watching the sunset over the Atlantic Ocean.

White cliffs up the Solent welcomed me back to Great Britain.

It’s a bit of a heatwave as I sit in my sister’s house in London. Covid 19 hasn’t gone away and being in a big city like London requires caution but life is an adventure to be lived so let’s live it.

Goodbye Portugal and Hello Spain

The Atlantic Coast of Portugal can be a bit crowded so a route east of Porto along the Duoro River into the Mountains then north to the spa city of Chaves was the best option

It was a great choice; clear windy roads and wonderful scenery.

It was a short ride to Chaves less than 150km but storms ahead dictated the length of the ride.

And the storm came casting an grey pall over the old centre of Chaves.

While Chaves is a Spa town the waters are used primarily for therapeutic use rather than leisure so lolling in a hot spa wasn’t an option. But drinking warm mineralised spa water straight from the spring was.

Cups are filled straight from the Spring.

The rain cleared over night and it was a clear run over the mountains into Spain

So it was goodbye Portugal

And hello Spain,

Confirmation I was in Spain came at Astorga and its Gaudi designed building.

The route headed around Leon and into the Picos de Europa.

I had travelled to the Picos in 2018 and it was a great opportunity to revisit.

The road to Riano to Potes is just beautiful.

From Potes in the town plaza there is a magnificent view of the central Massif of the Picos de Europa

Just 23km on from Potes is Fuene De in the heart of the Picos and one of the most beautiful camp grounds I have stayed at in all my travels

From Fuente De there is a Cable Car that ascents 753 Metres to a high plateau at about 1600 metres. There are number of walks in the mountains. One is an 11km return walk the ascends 770 metres to a refuge.

It’s a hard walk but the views spectacular.

Being up with the eagles.

Fuente De is a short ride back to the ferry port city of Santander. It was such very different circumstances arriving in Santander than it was in 2020.

Porto

It’s hard to know what to write about Porto I’m sure many many words have written about: the wine, the amazing River Douro gorge that the city is built around, the buildings and the churches.

Agh the churches. I think I’ve had enough of them. Another catholic evangelistic warlord going off and subduing and plunderingzx happy and peaceful first nations people all in god’s name.

But I did visit some churches. But I think too many European cities I am suffering Church Fatique. (Unreported visits to Barceona and Madrid laid the grounds for church fatigue!)

Luckily to conteract the Church Fatique there was a Banksy exhibition.

But as a boy born and bred in Melbourne, Australia. A city famous for its trams. A tram ride along the Douro River to the beach was a must.

The mouth of the river is quaint with a smallish beach and the Atlantic Ocean is still cold!

The tram ride is a scenic tour in itself along the river…

I have an observation developed over time. If you want to have something to eat with the view don’t expect anything to exciting food wise. The best food is most often without a view. This rule played out in Porto. The resturaunts with tables along the river offered the same blend of ‘traditional’ Portugese cuisine. But on the riverside in the in amongst the wine caves there is the little municipal market building. Here there are stalls of fresh produce and traditional and modern Porttugese food. But no view!

The best resturaunts are up the steep hills away from the river. The food fresh and fantastic.

But book if you want to go to a great place like Maria Rita or you will be queueing with locals and tourists alike waiting for a table to become free. Inside there is not a rush and a great selection of wines from.the Douro region and local produce.

So what is the must do thing to do in Porto?

Get your photo taken with the city as a backdrop. Lol

UPDATE

Thanks to a a follower an update. I should mention the Railway Station and its murals. They are impressive.

Some beautiful scenes of rural and river life.

But even in the railway station you can’t escape the glorification of the conquering and enslavement of peace loving native people in god’s name!

What a difference a Cape makes. The Atlantic Coast of Algave

Cape St Vincent (Cabo de São Vicente) is the most Southwesterly point of the European Continent. It’s juts out into the Atlantic at the bottom tip of Portugal. It’s funny to think that only few weeks back I was at the North West tip of Africa.

East of the Cape the coast gently curves toward the Gulf of Cadiz with its generally warm calm waters. (As seen in the previous blog)

To the west and north the Atlantic up to its reputation of icy cold waves and wild beaches.

The beach at Carrapateira a wild wahing machine of a place.

Arrafina is a lot less wild. sheltered by a headland with a little fishing port giving some shelter from the wind and a better set of waves.

Is the water icy? Well at under 18c it’s chilly but not as cold as the Southern Ocean off the Victorian, Australia coast where I have swum for many years.

But not intolerable!

The cliff top provides amazing views up and down the coastline.

And of course facing west the clifftop provides a great sunset viewing platform.