I am guessing that perhaps only a small proportion of my readers will know who ‘Crosby, Stills & Nash‘ are. A week or two ago, on our first very brief visit to ‘Puerta Gelves’, we were sat in the on-site Cafe/Bar enjoying a beer or two with Roy and Amanda (Twernt on Tour). With some of the conversation being around our intended trip to Morocco, I asked Roy if he had heard of the Classic 1969 chart hit song ‘Marrakesh Express‘, Shazza had said that she had never heard of it and neither it appeared had Amanda. Roy saved my sanity by saying that he had heard of it, thank goodness for that, and then just to prove to our good ladies that neither of us were just having a ‘Senior Moment’, Roy Googled it to confirm its existence. So other than the ‘Moroccan’ link, what is the relevance of that song to my ramblings ? All in good time my friends, all in good time !!
On this our second visit, and slightly longer stay at ‘Puerta Gelves’ we had found ourselves at a location that we were in no hurry to depart. It @wasn’t just because we had all the ‘home comforts’, EHU, Showers, Flushing Toilet etc. or that we had local shops and Supermarkets on the doorstep or ‘Seville’ within a short cycling distance or bus ride away, although all of those things played a part. But there was something even better, a place where you could sit in the sun and look over the river, or the inner mooring berths or the apartments and on site Cafe/Bar. Being winter, there was very little boat traffic moving up or down the river, the larger yachts were moored on the outer jetty, some were closed up but three were occupied. Being parked up on a Marina makes you part of that community, you get to meet and talk with the full time ‘Liveaboards’, the residents who live in the Marina apartments and of course any other ‘Motorhomers’ that turn up. We had got to know two of the three full time ‘Liveaboards’, not by name, just by way of general chit chat. One couple were from ‘Holland’ and had sailed here during the summer, stopping en-route via the coastlines of England, France, Norther Spain and Portugal and were moored up here for three months over the Winter period until they could continue onto the Mediterranean. The second ‘Liveaboards’ were a couple from ‘Belgium’, they were friendly enough and we always passed pleasantries but they very much kept themselves to themselves. Perhaps they had heard about my blog and knew that anything they told me would be public knowledge within hours !! There were a few others who were spending the Winter here in the ‘Dry Dock Storage’ area, living on their boats that were supported on ‘Stansions’ and so high that they needed ladders to get in and out. They generally spent their days split between conducting maintenance on their vessels or exchanging sea faring tales in the on site Cafe/Bar, sometimes over a long lunch time session, other times in the evenings and until the early hours, for this Cafe/Bar appeared to have the policy of staying open until the last customer departed !! I also met the oldest ‘Liveaboard’ resident, an English lady who was well into her late Seventies or Early Eighties. Diana and her husband had arrived here ten years ago in their yacht to over winter, sadly he had died whilst here and with no house to return to in the UK she just decided to remain here, living on her boat in the dry dock storage area. Unlike our first visit here, their were very few Motorhomers, Ben, the ‘Dutch’ solo Motorhomer had departed but another UK Motorhome arrived. Dick was from Scarborough and his wife, Toni, was Spanish. For a number of days we were the only two Motorhomes parked up, I guess now that the Winter chill is upon us, everyone else has moved to warmer areas.
On Saturday, we had decided to have a ‘Chillax’ day, no shopping trips, no ‘Shazzas Scenic Bicycle Tours’ just a lazy day, although a visit to Seville in the evening was on the cards. Whilst I enjoyed exploring the places we visited, sometimes it was just nice to sit and watch the world go by. When we had woken up on this particular morning it was the usual chilly start but today, when I looked out of the window, I couldn’t see the river which was just a few short yards away, it was covered in quite a thick shroud of mist. However, I could just about make out the hazy sunshine up there trying to break through, it reminded me of the Aire at ‘Constancia’, a place we had visited during the earlier part of this trip when I had sat outside eating my breakfast cereal whilst watching the sun gradually burn off the mist from the river and exposed the buildings of the town . Today, as then, the sun had again won the contest and soon I was sat just gazing out over the boats moored up on the river in wonderfully warm sunshine.
It was so peaceful and I found myself on several occasions just daydreaming, sometimes I would be looking at the yachts and imagining myself on them, sailing around the sun drenched Mediterranean Islands. Then something would wake me up from my current daydream and my thoughts turned to Morroco. Having only ever seen photographs of others who had ventured across there in their Motorhomes and read the words in books and blogs of their travels and this was sufficient for my mind to imagine ourselves already there. On a couple of occasions I was gently awoken from my semi-hypnotic stuper by the sounds emanating from the Cafe/Bar as the early risers took their morning coffee at the tables outside.
Then it was the noise from the youngsters, members of the local rowing club, arriving as they did every weekend, to get out on the water to learn and practice their rowing techniques, kids from the age of Eight years old right up to the teenagers, all under supervision from the ‘Coach’ in his rubber dinghy, powered of course with an outboard motor, he would bark instructions across at the youngsters. It was good to watch and once they had got to some point down river he would get them to turn around and then it was a race back to the Marina. Once they had completed their morning training session and put away their boats into the storage sheds the noise subsided and a relative calm descended once again. At some point during all of this activity a Heron had landed on the opposite bank of the river, I watched it for some time as it stood, almost motionless, waiting for the unwary fish to swim just that little bit too close and become lunch, occasionally it would open its wings as if it were sunbathing.
Our time here was fast running out, having discovered that the Christmas Lights would be turned on before the 8th (Monday), we decided to again revise our ‘flexible’ schedule. We could now go into the city on Saturday evening to see the lights, enjoy a meal and then come back again leaving us Sunday to get ourselves prepared and ready to head for Algeciras on Monday, instead of the Wednesday as originally intended. It was no good putting off the inevitable, unless of course the News announced that ‘Ebola‘ had arrived in Morocco, or that the ‘Islamic State‘ had Kidnapped or murdered Westerners from Morocco, or there had been a ‘Nuclear explosion’ in Morocco, there was no getting away from the fact that Shazza was determined to ‘drag’ me, kicking and screaming, to Morocco !!
This brings me back to where I started on this particular post, ever since we (Shazza) had ‘decided‘ to ‘maybe‘ go to Morroco I had been humming the tune and singing the chorus of the song ‘Marrakesh Express’, we’ll sort of singing although I won’t consider auditioning for the ‘X Factor’ or ‘Britains Got Talent’ just yet !! Once Roy had confirmed to our respective spouses that this song was not just a figment of our imaginations I decided to get a ‘You Tube’ video on the iPad to play to Shazza, in the remote chance that she may have remembered hearing it at some point in her mis-spent youth, however, when she told me that she was barely weened off ‘Farleys Baby Rusks’ when it was first released, it did make me concede that I was probably more likely to find some ‘Rocking Horse S***’ to put on the roses than Shazza having ever heard of this ‘classic’ late 60’s song. However, when listening to this recording there were two lines in the lyrics that I thought were highly appropriate to what I was doing in my life right now…………………….
“Sweeping cobwebs from the edges of my mind,
Had to get away to see what we could find”
It had been a very relaxing day and by the time the evening arrived I was rejuvenated and ready to do battle with the hoards of Seville (and no that was not a typo, I did mean hoards !!). We knew that Seville was a city, so like any other major city in Europe on a Saturday night, we expected it to be fairly busy. We were not prepared for just how busy, I can only say that ‘Harrods’ in London on ‘Black Friday’ was probably quiet compared to this !! I was having ‘flash backs’ to my days travelling in and out of London on the Underground at rush hour and I would put money on Sardines in a can having more room to breathe than we had. My first thoughts were to what a perfect environment it was for the ‘Pick Pockets’, but I was prepared for that and made sure that my easier ‘accessible’ pockets had nothing in them worth picking !! When we first stepped off the bus and walked into the main ‘Central’ area, it was just becoming dusk so the lights were not on, however, the crowds had already assembled and as we walked down the main pedestrianised area there was a cheer as someone flicked the switch and the streets lit up in all their splendour. As you will already have guessed, my camera battery had been fully charged in readiness, no reliance on the iPhone camera this time, I had cone out armed with my trusty ‘Canon Powershot’ camera and I just clicked and clicked away. Well after all, I assumed that this would be the last chance of seeing ‘Christmas Lights’ this year, Morocco being a Muslim country and all that. Below are just a selection of those that I took……………..
The proper Restaraunts don’t open until 8:30pm, it was only 7:15pm and we were hungry, we didn’t fancy the likes of MacDonalds or Burger King so we searched around, most places were already crammed to the gunnels so we got off the main drag and had a look around the side streets. We found a small ‘Tapa’s’ Cafe/Bar so decided to go with it, at least it would be food. I wasn’t expecting very much, either in the way of quality, choice or even quantity but boy was I proved wrong. We ordered two lots of ‘Tapas’ accompanied by two ‘Plates’, one of Chicken in a Mushroom Sauce and Iberico Pork in a Tomato sauce and two glasses of Vino Tinto to help wash it down. We got very hot and tasty food so all the boxes got ticked, menu choices were good as was the quality and quantity. So suitably fed and watered and with no more lights to see, it was time to fight our way back through the crowds to our bus stop.
We awoke on Sunday morning to a very chilly start, only 7 degrees(c) inside the van so the heater went on, coffees were made and we remained underneath the Duvets. Our original plan for the day was to take a final cycle ride into Seville, have coffee sat by the river then a cycle back before starting the preparations for ‘Moving On’ day. However, whilst the sun was shining and the sky was blue there was a definite chill in the air, the cycle ride may have warmed us up but I certainly didn’t fancy sitting outside once we got there. Fortunately, it was Shazza that had a change of heart about the cycle ride, we were not certain on what facilities would be available on Moroccan campsites, as far as Laundry was concerned, so today may be the last chance for a while to get up to date with everything, towels, bedding, jeans. I needed to get the garage re-packed and then get the bikes re-secured on the cycle carrier. I had been told that ‘some’ Moroccans will have bikes away in no time at all, I was rather hoping that as our bike rack is set pretty high up that this would prove an initial obstacle to any would be bicycle snafflers, I also padlocked both bicycles together making it difficult to remove just one, however, today I would be using an additional two locks, I could do no more.
The sun had made the afternoon warm enough to sit outside. Shazza had done ‘All’ the Laundry, hung it out and after drying quite quickly in the sunshine she had also sat and ironed it, yes she still does that !! We got all our paperwork ready, checked our route to Algeciras, as well as the route to our first campsite in Morocco. That was it, we are as ready as we can be, so although this has been a relatively brief encounter with Southern Spain, there will be plenty of opportunities to do more exploring on the return leg of our journey and to cover the ‘other’ parts of Spain over the coming years.
So it is on to the next stage of this adventure, Morocco here we come……………………