Italy Morocco Pyrenees

May 2015

Part 1: From Greece to Morocco

What's the least expected way to trigger a motorcycle trip from Europe to Africa? Might be this one:

I send an email to friends of mine from Australia in order to share with them my (back then) newborn site. They reply like: "you know what? We'll do Morocco and then Pyrenees starting from Italy on our bikes with a bunch of friends. You can join us at any part or for the whole trip." You bet my answer...

Early May, in classic perfect Greek weather I load my bike for one of my longest trips which would bring me for the first time in Africa.

Once again, the usual ritual for me to make it West: Ride those 250+km to Patra's port and then take the ferry to Ancona Italy. An awful sleep on the deck follows but fortunately not much distance to cover the next day till my first meeting point with some of the guys of the group at the village of Preggio close to Perugia. It's a 150km route that I've done in the past except the last 30 km after Gubbio, full of superb twisties on terrible tarmac conditions though - potholes and bits of gravel all the way.

The village of Preggio is such a beauty. I arrive at the center and rush to take a picture of those lovely old buildings,

and the wonderful view:

Shortly after Kim, one of the ladies of the group welcomes me with the warmest smile possible and introduces me to the house where we would overnight with her husband plus one more friend. I never met the owner of the house (friend of the guys) but I really appreciate his hospitality plus the view of his balcony:

In the evening we all go to the local restaurant for dinner where I am lucky enough to try Italian cuisine at its best in this lovely old cutie:

Don't miss it if you're around!

Next morning, after a breakfast at that lovely balcony we leave this sweet place to ride up to Livorno where the ferry is waiting us for a 60 (!) hours trip up to Tangier Morocco. My first time in Africa required my longest ferry trip too. Weather flirts with perfection and 4 of us on 3 bikes set for that long adventure.

The first km are very beautiful on winding roads in this marvellous area full of chestnut trees. We pass Lago di Trasimeno, later make a short stop at hot Siena to have a bite on something and then a longer stop to visit the town of Voltera. Classic medieval town on the top of a hill and a good chance for some walk and cheese tasting.

Nothing that interesting on the rest of the route except lots of traffic (as usual) on the S1. We had a nice 'n cheap dinner at Livorno:

...while we watched that seagull queuing for some “FRUTTI di MARE” 🙂:

In the evening we enter the Grimaldi ferry were we realise how ridiculous their service and the whole situation is. For a 60 (sixty) hours trip booked in an A class outside cabin what you get is a thing in an area that stinks worse than a dirty kitchen, (mainly cause Moroccans like to cook in their cabins), an over worn mattress almost thin as a cigarette paper, 20 ml of something between a shampoo and a bath foam, one small piece of soap and one towel. gotta wipe your butt and your face with the same thing... I experienced better conditions while doing my mandatory military service. Funny thing is that (of course) they don't want you to throw paper and other stuff in the toilet while at the same time there's no trash bin in there...F U!

A 3 day trip on a ferry like this can be nothing better than boring af. Kim has a plus reason to complain as her interest to visit the wellness center of the ferry in order to kill time in this long trip became fruitless: It is turned to a pray room for Muslims. Trying to kill time we spend hours above paper maps chatting about our upcoming Moroccan routes:

We are only happy to finally make it to Morocco after a short stop at Barcelona, though the Moroccan customs try to vanish our joy sending us from one queue to another and then got us waiting again even though the paperwork had been done in the ferry.

The first km after Tangier are nothing special but the N16 following the east coast is a great ride that we accidentally take as we should head straight to Chefchaouen instead. The P4105 after Oued Laou is no worse at all climbing up the mountain and we arrive at Chefchaouen with a big smile on our faces. This was also our meeting point with another couple from Australia plus John's wife making us 7 bikers on 6 bikes.

We walk around that "blue" town,

and then we decide to have something to eat and leave behind all those guys trying to sell us all shorts of stuff. As for me, for some reason I'm their number one target for hash dealers. It's only my first hours in Morocco and if I wasn't turning down all offers I would be leaving with half of the hash of the world...

We sit for a meal at this place: first Moroccan bed looks like this:

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