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Into North Africa

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Into North Africa. Dunes, Camels and Tea

Waving goodbye to Spain and catching a glimpse of the great island fortress of Gibraltar, We embarked on the ferry trip to Ceuta.  I know that some of you have never heard of it and yet you probably have heard of the political wrangling between the EU and Britain over the territory of Gibraltar.......... what those bodies never talk about is that Ceuta is a Spanish territory on the mainland of North Africa, in what would otherwise be Morrocco..... I think there's a moral there somewhere. We arrived safely and disembarked into rather a shabby port town. I had never seen real poverty before, but over the next few weeks that would change. Ceuta was the first clue of what was to come. We walked and walked. Again it was another scorching hot day, but the sea breeze felt good and following it we found ourselves on a vast stretch of beach. We headed East following a line of immense dunes and of course the waves on our other side, roaring as they crash…

Traveling Companions !

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Traveling Companions !
After Leaving the North Coast of Spain, our simple plan was to head south, and using our 'Afrique' placard, hitchhike into North Africa.... sounds simple doesn't it ? It was a hot and very uncomfortable day for two Brits, who enjoy cold wet weather, but we found ourselves on the outskirts of Burgos. In those days a military town, and home to large numbers of conscripted soldiers...... so what?, you may say... It was demobbing day ! Thousands of young men in uniforms were heading home after their term of conscription, and the roads were full of hitchhikers....   we realised that we... two Brits in 'civies' and sporting Union Flags on their packs stood no chance of getting a lift. Here we were in the midday sun (with only cheap vino Tinto in our water carafes), facing a very long wait indeed. It was decided that we should head over to the adjacent fields and pitch our tents, garnering a little shade and getting us away from the horde of soldiers on …

Sand Dunes And Dresses

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SAND DUNES AND DRESSES

Walking out of the Pyrenees, we headed North and West towards the coast. In those days, Northern Spain was not a tourist destination. It was gritty, dirty, impoverished after many years of neglect and of course was still trying to recover from their vicious civil war, as was the rest of Spain. The British, Dutch and German waves of second home owners had not arrived. Arriving late one evening in San Sebastian, I noted how friendly the people were. They were all smiles and curiosity. This didn't change for our entire trip through Spain....the people were (and still are) wonderful. Upon our arrival we sought out coffee and tapas. We'd heard the coffee was good and the tapas were mouth watering. Finding ourselves lost in what was a large town, we wandered into an area with many tall tenement buildings...... it didn't look welcoming, at all. Looking up we were surrounded by tall concrete monoliths that were foreboding....however, there was a gaggle of chil…

The Smells Of the Countryside...And New Friends

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The Smells Of the Countryside....And New Friends
Heading down the West coast of France, we eagerly anticipated crossing the border into Spain. It was a lengthy trip, in part because we got stuck in Biarritz and St Jean de Luz.... no-one stopped to pick us up, and to make matters worse the weather turned sour. Strong winds and rain meant that we were reluctant to stand on roadsides with our thumbs out. Anyway we eventually found ourselves in Hendaye, right on the border,  and after consuming rather a poor baguette for dinner, accompanied by some equally bad table wine ( we didn't really care as it was cheaper than water in those days), we formulated a plan for our border crossing. As part of our history classes, we had learnt a lot about British airmen escaping POW camps and crossing over the Pyrenees, following forgotten trails. We decided that by following a disused railway track up into the mountains we would probably locate some of those trails... what an adventure ! We drank too m…

Walking Through The Stones

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It’s Here 🤗👍👏🏻 Walking Through The Stones ( part 2) can now be found here on the YouTube link below. This virtual tour is free for you to enjoy. Many of you have asked how you can contribute to the cost of making it....just click on the PayPal link below. Many thanks to all of you who have already done so.
https://youtu.be/RIsFHocnYiA
https://paypal.me/marksfrance?locale.x=en_GB


A Little Bit 'Tipsy'

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A Little Bit 'Tipsy' And A Bowl Of Muesli
After arriving in France, Le Havre to be exact, Jamie and I headed towards a major road intersection and put out our thumbs, as well as our 'Afrique' sign.  It was a hot day and it was lucky that we had filled up our water on the ferry crossing, because it was to be a long wait...... it may have had something to do with our Union flag rucksacks ! I really don't understand the animosity between France and the UK. Anyway, we'd just finished our muesli lunch (great dried food for when you're on the road), and a car pulled up. He was headed towards Brittany and offered us a lift. This was to be my first excursion to Brittany ( I live here at the moment), and it was to be a good one. We drove for hours, and its always a long trip when there are two languages being spoken and neither party can really understand the other. However, we eventually arrived on the SW coast, near to Quimper, a city I've grown to love. Our driv…

Afrique

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Afrique !
I’ve been asked to write a little more about my 'escape' from the British Isles, that took place many years ago. As I previously mentioned, I was a 17 year old who needed to get away from the 'woes' of my life. I had decided to embark on a backpacking and hitchhiking trip, across Europe and into North Africa. Now remember, this was in the days before mass tourism, and we were going to a place that was having trouble of its own. North Africa, namely, Morocco, and Algeria were in the throes of Civil wars, that we knew little about....but more on that in another blog.
My friend and I (he is also a Rick Steves guide now) had agreed to meet on the outskirts of Bath, our hometown. It was a wet and very windy evening. It was also dark. We laughed at each other as we stood there with our military style backpacks and gear, our wind cheaters on and a bedraggled piece of cardboard in my hands. That piece of cardboard was our secret weapon ! On it was written the one word, A…