A sojourn in South East England

The shingle and high tides are the perfect conditions for having a careening based shipyard at the old fishing port at Hastings.

Trawlers sit on the shingle while their catch is sold in the huts on the foreshore.

The fishing port and old town sit under high cliffs where a funicular to the top of the cliffs gives a great view.

And the old town has the buildings that are so out of square that I wonder how they have stood for a week yet they have for centuries.

Old out of square Tudor style building are part the village of Rye. Especially, the beautiful Mermaid Street.

And around Church Hill where some of the oldest buildings in the village are found.

Once the sea lapped at the edge of the town of Rye but that was many many centuries ago. The beach is now a couple of miles down the Rother River with marshland in between.

From the mouth of the Rother the shingle beach curves gently for just over 10 miles to the the cliff at Fairlight.

The tide of 4 metres means an ever changing view along the beach. It also means ever changing water conditions.

My favourite little beach is at Pett Level especially at high tide where the drop away from the high tide line is steep. This means on a hot day a couple of steps off the shingle and you can plunge into the cool Atlantic waters in the English Chanel.

Fishing is part of the culture of the South East be it the small fishing boats on the shingle at Pett Level

Or the commercial boats like at Hastings and at Rye.

And bounty from the sea such as a pan of plump fresh scallops.

Upstream of Rye, the Rother River winds its way through the country side.

Past little villages like Newenden where the local pub provides a spot for a cool ale or bite to eat.

But, for me, the most special place is the Rye Nature Reserve. With its walks, wildflowers and birdlife. It was my solice when I was locked down in Rye Harbour in April 2020. It is a most beautiful place.

There has recently been a heat wave in the UK and Europe. Rye Harbour was the perfect place to escape the heat and to see the storm to end of the heat wave roll in.

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.

Fez – Morocco’s oldest city.

The long ferry ride from Santander in Spain and Portsmouth in England is a good place to catch up on the Moroccan blog.

Fez was my major city experience in Morocco. I couldn’t neglect Morocco’s oldest city, home to the world’s oldest University in the labyrinthine Medina.

Fez is a big bustling city and here I encountered the motorised tout. The motorised rides along besides you on a nippy scooter talking away about where you from, how long have you been in Morocco etc etc. Meanwhile I’m trying to navigate the Moroccan traffic and follow the directions instructions from the GPS. Just as your totally bamboozled the the key question comes. ‘Which hotel are you staying at?’ I divulge the name and next thing the full loaded Mighty Breva following a little scooter nipping through the streets of Fez.

At the hotel, next morning at the cafe across our registered guide will be waiting to lead a private tour of the old city.

He was a great guide and navigating the old Medina without a guide would really be a challenge in navigation and interpretation.

The leather dying vats are an iconic part of the old city.

As is the camel butcher.

The copper smiths

The fabric sellers

And the winding alleyways and heavy doors that the porte to Mosques, Synagogues, residences of the rich and poor

Of course one of those doors leads to the oldest university in the world.

From the high points of the city you can gain a view of the Medina by day

And by night

Inside the Medina the roof of the carpet seller gives a good view across the roof tops.

Did I say carpet seller??? Whoops I bought another rug!!

Fez was the Moroccan city I really wanted to visit and if didn’t disappoint. Maybe a different city next time.

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!

Riding a motorcycle in the Atlas Mountains

While the High Atlas Mountains with some passes over 3000 metres on some of the back roads that catch the headlines there is a lot more to the Atlas Mountains. The Middle Atlas to the north and the Anti Atlas to the south also offer some amazing riding.

Along the Atlantic Coast just north of Agadir the roads ride there wind up into the middle Atlas through Paradise Valley to the Cascades at Imouzzer des Ita Outanane.

Unfortunately because of the drought the Cascade was dry but the ride is worth the trip in itself. As is the beautiful Cascades Hotel

While most of the roads are bitumanised and pretty well maintained some of the dirt roads were more challenging on a big road bike.

But the views are worth it.