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Old 01-31-2012, 12:24 PM   #1
Kiwiplum OP
Joined: Jan 2012
Location: Coromandel , New Zealand
Oddometer: 18
Kiwi in Morocco and beyond

A New Year. A new challenge. That means a new motorbike tour.

Last year I rode 21000km through 22 countries in Europe on my 2008 Suzuki V Strom 650. The blog is on the kiwi site under blogs/three months in Europe

I finished the blog on that trip by hinting I was contemplating a tour of Morocco and Turkey in 2012. Well I have contemplated and I am off in April 2012 for a four month tour. This year the trip will not be entirely solo as a couple of friends want to join me for the Turkish leg.

Following my return to NZ in September 2011, I spent a few weeks skiing and then headed off to SE Asia for a 2000km bicycle ride through Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. It got me fit. All I have to do now is maintain a semblance of that level. The blog for that trip is on Crazy guy on a three kiwi jokers.

My plan is to arrive in the UK in mid April, fettle the bike for a week including fitting a belly pan. Then catch a ferry to Northern Spain, cruise down to the Mediterranean coast, catch a ferry to Morocco and brace myself for my first introduction to North Africa.

I will spend four or five weeks in Morocco taking in the desert, mountains and coast, have a break with the Mrs in Marrakech, sampling the local delicacies.

Then catch a ferry to Genoa in Italy , meet my friends and meander on a route to be decided to Istanbul.

From there I will revisit Gallipoli, head for Lake Van and Cappadocia. I have a yen to visit Georgia and from there perhaps catch a ferry to the Crimea and then wander back to the UK via the Baltic states, Finland, Sweden and Denmark.
Well, that is the plan . But don’t hold me to it. I found that I was easily influenced on my last tour to go off the beaten track and just follow my whims.

I will be taking my camping gear, as it gives me independence , I will load up my Kindle with books, my I Pod with crap tunes and take a few changes of clothes. Taking too much just complicates things. Oh and I will add my body surfing fins - I hear the surf is great in Morocco.

But that is a few months away and I have a summer to spend on the glorious Coromandel - fishing, diving, riding, eating.

And there is planning and dreaming to do. If you have any tips that may help me , please let me know.

Kiwiplum screwed with this post 03-14-2012 at 04:34 PM
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Old 01-31-2012, 01:24 PM   #2
expat in the jungle
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Joined: Sep 2007
Location: Bilbao, close to the fu****ng Guggenheim
Oddometer: 2,294
good luck with your ambitious plan
surfing in Morocco is impressive, (TAGHAZOUT) and in the south of Portugal (Cape San Vicente area), which is not far from Tarifa (120 miles), where you can take the ferry to Tangier and start your Moroccan adventure
Youth is wasted on the young

Need some help<<<<<<>>>>>>> wet wanderings
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Old 01-31-2012, 01:56 PM   #3
Gnarly Adventurer
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Joined: Aug 2008
Location: Southern California
Oddometer: 340
Can we trade lives?

Oh...and good luck!

Morocco is beautiful. You'll love it.
2008 VFR800
2012 Super Ténéré
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Old 01-31-2012, 02:00 PM   #4
Gnarly Adventurer
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Joined: Aug 2008
Location: Southern California
Oddometer: 340

And I stayed was amazing...

Kasbah de Toubkal in the Atlas Mountains

2008 VFR800
2012 Super Ténéré
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Old 01-31-2012, 02:36 PM   #5
Beastly Adventurer
Joined: Aug 2010
Location: S W France my little bit of paradise
Oddometer: 1,195
You love Morocco, i'm going back
Have a nosey here if you want
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Old 02-01-2012, 08:18 PM   #6
Kiwiplum OP
Joined: Jan 2012
Location: Coromandel , New Zealand
Oddometer: 18
Thanks for your wishes and advice
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Old 04-15-2012, 11:53 PM   #7
Kiwiplum OP
Joined: Jan 2012
Location: Coromandel , New Zealand
Oddometer: 18
morocco bound

The first glimpse of the UK after a summer spent in New Zealand was comforting. It is, in spring; a soft land, without the intensity of light and the raw,adolescent edge of the Coromandel landscape. The spring flowers and trees blush colour against the grey overcast sky.

In a few months, the Olympics will be held in London. And like the rugby World cup's impact, there is a dulux freshness about the airports,public buildings and roads. Union Jacks, bunting, billboards, t shirts, retail outlets all proclaim their allegiance to the Olympic monetary ideal.

But despite the bread and circuses, you can still taste the recession in closed storefronts, half finished and abandoned building sites and real estate agency signs showing the rigours of a winter 's inactivity.

However, there is the hope of spring.

My first task was to get my V Strom 650 out of storage. I had charged up the battery and when I coupled it back into the bike, turned the ignition key, pulled in the clutch and hit the starter button, the bike gave a little cough and burst into life and after a minute was running sweetly at just under 1000rpm.

I had arranged to take it back to the dealer for a service, skid pan and warrant. On the winding Sussex roads, I slotted back into a comfortable groove. The contrast between the V Strom 1000 that I ride in New Zealand was apparent. Not only is the 650 more nimble but the gearing seems to suit my riding style. I do enjoy the 1000 and its power, but it is more lumpy and for me at least, the gears seem less tuned into the engine.

Insurance is always a trial in the UK, but with a year's no claim bonus and an established history I managed to get fully comprehensive for Europe, breakdown assistance, personal, legal and helmet cover for $400. In addition , the new policy gave me around 4 months continuous travel away from the UK.

On my journey around Europe last year, I took too much gear . So this year I decided to be very rigorous in my packing. Actually I was so selective that I only filled one pannier with my camping gear and clothes, so I decided to relax and added a few more t shirts and luxuries. I have also added a few more spare parts including brake and clutch cables, pump, puncture repair outfit and body surfing fins.

My plan is now to leave UK on April 19, catch the ferry to Dieppe, ride the 500km to Saint Nazaire and get the ferry to Gijon in Northern Spain. From here I will head to Algecerias in southern Spain for the boat to Ceuta, a Spanish enclave in Morocco .

I intend to spend all of May in Morocco, visiting the high mountains, desert and Atlantic coast. I will meet my wife in Marrakech for a few days and also visit, Fez and Casablanca before catching the ferry from Tangier to Genoa and head through Eastern Europe to Turkey.

I find it takes a week or so to get in the groove of traveling and being by yourself. My summer in the Coromandel is always busy with fishing , diving, riding, household chores and the volunteer fire force. You tend to miss company for the first week or so, then you settle down to enjoy your freedom, the new sights and culture and the people you inevitably meet as a solo rider.

Another adventure is about to begin.
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Old 04-16-2012, 01:16 PM   #8
Wiley Wanderer
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Joined: Sep 2007
Location: In the mountains
Oddometer: 564
Hi Phil,

Glad to see the Philatec prepared DR did you proud.

Mrs P and I stumbled on your superb RR whilst sheltering from the snow, wind and sleet (in a campsite bar) in the Spanish Pyrenees hey ho :-) I think the locals think we are not playing with a full deck as we keep laughing out loud.

Best photo for me was the garage shot of your DR, truck, bicycle and donkey & cart vying for shelter from the rain.

Your report made the night for us here.....brilliant

Ah well, back to the tenty house it is..... but one last brandy before we go, less wazzing than beer hey ;-) and Mrs P just informed me that she's plugged the tent in to the electric on the site with an eleccky fire...clever lass or what.

Ride safe, and thanks for sharing.


Brandied Up Potski & Mrs P

BTW, thanks for the tip on Rocamadour.... we had great time.
Potski Photos - "Don't wait for your ship to come in, swim out and meet the bloody thing" Barry Sheen
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Old 04-28-2012, 06:42 AM   #9
Kiwiplum OP
Joined: Jan 2012
Location: Coromandel , New Zealand
Oddometer: 18
bexhill to ceuta

The plan for the journey to the Spanish enclave of Ceuta on Morocco's coast involved three ferries. The first was from Newhaven to Dieppe, across the turgid and turdy English Channel .
Catching a ferry only 50km into the trip means you can cast aside early along with the mooring ropes your previous routines. You now have to invent, find, refine a whole new set of standards. You have to be more aware, sharper, sometimes cautious and get into a mind set that allows you to accept the vagaries of travel.
I love the anonymity that solo travel brings. You can watch activities without making any judgement and participate without responsibility.
Once on French soil, I had a 450 ride along the top of France to the Atlantic port of Saint Nazaire for the ferry to Gijon. My French journey started in bright clear weather and I quickly got into the groove of driving on the left.

However, just one hour into the ride, it all turned to custard. The wind rose and the trees on the roadside bent with the gusts, the rain sleeted down and the bike was pushed around like a Qantas steward in a rugby scrum. I abandoned riding that day and found a campsite in the walled garden of an old chateau. The storm raised its intensity during the night and although the walls gave me some protection, the noise meant I had to use my earplugs to get some sleep.
The next day I packed up in the rain and gritted myself for an uncomfortable 350km ride. Uncomfortable was an understatement. The wind and rain increased and I was pushed between the white road lines like the cursor in one of those old tennis computor games. I found cowering in the slip stream of a truck and dodging down behind the screen of the V Strom helped but the wind which veered through about 30 degrees, caught the bike broadsides with alarming frequency giving little chance to relax.

I arrived at St Nazaire bedraggled, cold and tired to find the ferry had been cancelled . but I had a priority reservation for the next boat in four days time. The counter clerk told me it was the first time they had cancelled in three years. I considered my options and felt that four days in one place so early in the trip was not appealing. The ferry and flight cancellations had given the hotels a bonus- there was no room at the inn. I had to ride another 40 km to find a campsite , I erected my still wet tent in the high winds, double pegged the lines and crawled into my sleeping bag, made myself a brew and exhausted fell asleep.

The next day, there was no rain although the wind was still high. I packed up and hit the dual carriage way heading through the flat coastal wine growing region of Bordeaux, then Bayonne and across the border into Spain.

The rain and wind picked up as I crossed the Pyrenees, indeed if anything it was the worse of the trip. It was just to risky to continue, so in Burgos I called it a day, found a hotel, stowed my bike in its courtyard, bought a bottle of wine, had a hot shower, toasted the day several times, dried my riding gear and slept for 10 hours.

What a difference a day makes. The next morning was bright, cold with a moderate wind. It was so nice cruising across the plains of Spain at around 120kph, with the bad weather experience behind you. The road was boring, straight and flat. I got in a convoy of Spanish bikers and they made the ride interesting buying me lovely calamari lunch and swapping motorbike war stories.

My friends stopped at Seville, but with only a further 200km to the ferry terminal at Algerciras to go and at least three hours of day light I carried on, refusing their offer of a bed for the night.

I caught the midnight ferry and an hour later I was setting foot for the first time in North Africa. It was warm, dry but everything was closed. No hotels, no restaurants. I found a beach, unrolled my swag, made a brew, had another toast and fell into a deep sleep, the only sound being the waves lapping the shore and the warm wind rustling the tussock grass in the dunes.
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Old 04-29-2012, 12:17 AM   #10
david hall
Joined: Mar 2007
Location: gloucester England
Oddometer: 34
Good stuff.
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