March 2006

 Dec 28, 2005 - 17 Jan 2006

Seville to Ceuta

The beginning of March saw us in Marrakech, preparing for the final few days in Morocco, after a two day ferry ride we were in Genoa, and three days later we were in Tunis after another ferry ride. Below are some of the happening since the last journal back in December 2005.

Seville:Cecilia in Seville

After Christmas in that wonderful parador in Carmona (Journal December 2005), we headed to Seville, where we wanted to do a little sightseeing and play tourist, as we had not really gotten much of a chance previously, either due to bad weather or work (ok, updating the web pages). As well as doing some minor preparations on the bikes (I got new tires in Seville), the time in Carmona, went very fast. For more pictures check out Seville in the picture section.

In Seville, we ended up spending a couple of days wandering around the old town around the cathedral, and down by the river. My impression of Seville, is that it is a very "livable" city.
Along the River in Sevilla
The river bank and the parks in the neighborhood are great for a time out. Lots of action in the tapas bars, both for tourist and locals. Plenty of sights and strolling in the old town is very rewarding for anyone interested in architecture, history or just looking for some un-usual sights.

Alas, our stay is too short to sample all the cultural and tourist sights available, but what we saw left a very deep impression. Hopefully we will make it back sometime.

As the campground in Dos Hermanas was closed, we had to camp at the campground in Seville. The campground is at the end of the runway of the local airport. Which just happened to be very busy. This meant a plane overhead every couple of minutes from 6:30 to around 22:00, so in the end we were pretty glad to be moving on.

Puerto de Santa Maria

From Seville, we headed south, past Jerez to the coast, where we wanted to spend a few days relaxing on the beach, before moving on to Morocco. It was so nice that we ended up spending two weeks here.

This is a little fishing town across the bay from Cadiz, which besides the fishing also has a number of Bodegas where some of the main Sherry producers store and process their products. Among the main ones here is Osborne, who has a number of statues of Bulls (their trademark) both around the town, and in huge billboards around the countryside. The campground was just across the road from a local beach, and was nice and pretty deserted. Amongst other things we decided to go ahead and do the final preparations for Morocco, this mainly meant an oil change, and valve adjustment on the bikes, which we took care of without too much problem.

Maintenance in the campground in Puerto de Santa Maria

Also we arranged to collect some mail from home, in particular we wanted to make sure that we had the new "green" insurance card which we needed for Morocco and Tunisia.

Last sunset of 2005, Puerto de Santa Maria

We spent New Years on the beach with a bottle of Sherry and a bottle of Port (just wanted to sample/compare them), and two bags of take-away seafood. There was a small fireworks display around midnight over the main part of town. Earlier, as we were doing some last minute shopping for New Years a lady ran over to us in the parking lot with an opening "grüetzi". A swiss ex-pat had seen our license plates and came over to say hello. She spontaneously invited us to join her family for their New Years celebration. We spent a few minutes talking to her and she really enjoyed speaking "swiss german" with us as she mentioned a couple of time. As I mentioned previously we spent New Years on the beach, so we missed her party. I ran into her again a couple of days later and apologized for missing her party.

While waiting for our mail, and in between our errands, we did a little sightseeing around Cadiz, and Jerez de La Frontera. What surprised me was that we didn't really see where they were getting all the grapes for the Sherry. All around Jerez in every direction we traveled, there were only barren fields! I guess they are hidden somewhere behind the hills?

F1 Training Jerez de La Frontera

Amongst other things we visited the F1 racetrack in Jerez de la Frontera, where the teams where doing some last minute testing before the formula 1 season started. It was a nice day so it was it was fun sitting in the stands and watching these "small" cars running around the track.

It was the first time for me and two things left and impression, first, they are loud, very loud, even with ear plugs they were loud. Second, they are fast, very fast, accelerating out of the curves, I couldn't follow them with my camera! Incredible.
F1 Training Jerez de La Frontera
F1 Wet Training Jerez de La Frontera The second time was two days later, when they had "wet" training, where they basically used two tanker trucks and sprayed the track with water every 15 minutes or so, so that they could train in simulated rain.
I had just wanted to see what that looked like, and other than the water plumes, it was the same, loud, fast and boring, so on the whole, two times is enough for us, been there, done that.. (of course, we have to be honest, neither Cecilia nor I are F1 fans!)
F1 Wet Training Jerez de La Frontera
Castillo San Sebastian, Cadiz Spain Before going to the track though, we did visit Cadiz, and had a look at one of the fortresses (Castillo de San Sebastian), sticking out into the ocean. it was a pretty gray day so we didn't stay long. Cadiz, basically 1 street going in and out where all the shopping stores are, and one street along the beach with restaurants and cafes on one side and a promenade on the other, which stretches all along the beach (a couple of km).
Cadiz, Spain

Tarifa and Ceuta

The bikes on the ferry to Ceuta
After finally leaving El Puerto de Santa Maria, we headed south to Tarifa, where we spent the night before getting on the ferry to Ceuta the next morning from Algecerias which is just over the mountains from Tarifa. The ferry ride takes only takes 45 minutes and you are in Africa, and this is where the fun begins. The whole ferry business is pretty hassle free. You go into the port, park in front of the terminal and go in and get your ticket from your favorite ferry company (there are a number of companies running ferries, and the price is pretty much the same, the main issue is when you want to go as your favorite company may be leaving in two hours, and another company is leaving now!), drive into the loading zone. They take your ticket and show you where to park your vehicle. That's it.

As you leave Algecerias, you get a nice view of the bay and Gibraltar on one side. There is a large amount of traffic in this area, all sorts ships and ferries, so it is a lot of fun to get up on deck, or in one of the salons and just check out the show.

Ceuta is just a little piece of land on the very tip of north Africa and in 5 minutes you are at the border of Morocco. One quick tip, if you come this way, make sure you tank up in Ceuta as the gasoline is cheap here (there is a gas station 200 meters from the border). Getting out of Spain is no issue, and then you are at the border of Morocco.


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