Ferry n free hotel

As some of you will know, my ability to match photos and text in the blogging world is still in its infancy, so please work with me on the terrible placement and lack of pictures until I get better

Going back to yesterday I arrived in ample time to get through the passport check and ride onto the ferry with other bikers. My bike looks very small compared to the much more expensive array of multi cylinder machines adorning the dockside. Very small but fully loaded. I think, from chatting to others I am the only one headed further south than Spain and seemed to get nods of approval when people heard where I was off to. Either that or they were nodding and saying “Yeah, that idiot on the tiny bike”, its hard to tell. 

On the ferry the bike was lashed down and I made my way to the cabin. In fairness its difficult to be negative about the cabin, it is small and very functional. Buried deep in the ship with no outside view, it made me start humming Celine Dion’s, My heart will go on.

Dinner was a Italian, dessert Swiss and the coffee Brazillian, all very diverse. The beer was cheap and the entertainment likewise. Although it has to be said the entertainers ability was directly proportional to the amount of beer consumed. Judging by the state of some travellers they were used to far better cabaret and made up for it with cabernet. (do you see what I did there?) Its probably time I slept.

At 1am I was woken by someone trying to get into my cabin. Oh yes it was sure to be that sweet young lady from the bar, err no, it was some pissed guy with his room number confused. I’m in 5253 he was 5352. Any decent chap would have guided him in the right direction, which I did using words of one syllable.

I woke about 8am and made for the self service resteraunt and a full English, but not before finding I had left my toothbrush at home. After brekkie the hunt was on. However unless I wanted to spend a tenner on a travel toothbrush and associated body lotions it was not going to happen. The day was long and very uneventful, which is great as the water was smooth and therefore no issues with travel sickness. At about 6pm we were allowed back to the bikes. I was impressed as DJ started first kick and soon we were herded out and effortlessly through passport control. I had programmed a route to the hotel some 60km away. I had two routes but clearly the sun was setting and the little Honda has poor eyesight so I opted for the direct route. Even so the road was good with huge bridges crossing gorges and tunnels through the mountains. The scenery was lovely and the journey to my alternative hotel was swift, if a little cold after the sun dropped behind the mountains. Ah yes the alternative hotel, I booked a hotel about 8 weeks ago using Booking.com, its a very simple arrangement and suits my travel style well. However at the last moment they messaged me to say the hotel was overbooked. There was a series of emails and offers, but I needed a room and I needed one quick, so I booked the Hotel Vejo from the same company. There was a price difference so I requested that they pay the difference. I heard nothing, so I was very happy, when booking into the very nice Hotel Vejo, to find Booking.com have paid for the room for me. I paid an extra €5 for a garage space for DJ. I found a supermarket and purchased toothbrush and paste. 

Tomorrow I head south.

Loomies to the dunes

I was up early with every intention of texting Adele Roberts on her Radio 1 early morning show. I am a regular listener and she has a section whereby people wishing to be excused regular listening can apply for a pass. I felt I stood a good chance of getting a mention, but I was already in holiday mode. I batted the alarm off and promptly fell asleep again. The next time I woke it really was time for me to get up. I had packed most of my kit and laid the rest out in readiness.
By lunchtime I was set to go. I kicked around a little and then was reminded that I needed to drop a birthday card at a friend’s house. For some reason I then went into rush mode, scribbling a card, throwing on my clothes and heading out. As I pulled the bike backwards out the gate I felt the whole back end wobble. I shook the heavily loaded rack, there was a clunk and clearly the rack was lose. The day before I had to replace the rear indicators and in my rush had not tightened the rack back down. I still had ample time but I was in hurry up mode. Luggage stripped and tool kit tested, I tightened the nuts and bolts before reloading everything. A few quick pics and I was off. wp-image-1280031219

I stopped at Loomies Moto Cafe, snapping a quick picture at the bikers meeting point before again heading South. I dropped the card off and made for the ferry at Portsmouth. As I rode the final stretch I thought to myself ‘It’s lucky you tightened that rack earlier as you may not get another chance before Africa’ I chuckled yeah that’s right I’m actually going to Africa. 

Once upon a time

How did I get to this point? In just six weeks the ferry sails with me and my bike bound for Spain and then onto Morocco, what happened? Why did it happen and whatever next? Well you can read the pre-Prelog in the ‘about me’ heading, but suffice to say I broke the rule that says if you tell 3 people you are doing something you have to do it. I was brash and full of bravado when I blurted out my intention to ride my bike to the Sahara, that bravado has turned to a nervous shy acknowledgement that it’s actually happening.

So, it was about two years ago I made the wild and somewhat stupid revelation that I would ride to Morocco and since then things have moved on at quite a pace. Hopefully you have all read the previous blog. In September 2016 I went to the Overland Magazine adventure show near Oxford for a weekend a great event with talks from inspiring people, Sean and Charlotte (250 Cruiser round Morocco). Chris Scott (Morocco Overland and Adventure Bike Handbook) and loads more including favourites Austin Vince, Lois Pryce, Sjaak Lucasson, Dylan Samarawaricka, Ian Coates and many more. I test rode the bike I have loved the look of and wanted since I first saw it, however I was sadly disappointed with its performance. (I’ll not say what it is as many people love the bike and it would be an injustice for my opinion to count. Then there was the slow race and as reigning HUBBUK champ I was upset to be beaten by that young upstart Nathan Millward (author of the Long Ride Home). I had milked as many people as I could for information, the trip was really going to happen.

My calculation was for it to happen in March 2017 and I began saving in earnest. However, issues with my house and financing the trip caused me to delay it by six months.

It’s been the hardest six months, working every hour to save and now I am really ready for a break and an adventure. I do have one more pre trip outing as the Overland show I mentioned earlier is about to happen again. I will pop along as the least travelled overlander and see what I can gain from others.

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