Spain, Portugal & Morocco 2022 Tour Blog – week 2 Back to News List
Leaving Marrakesh we were over half way through the tour but with plenty of highlights and wonderful riding ahead.
Soon after leaving Marrakesh, we were riding into the Atlas Mountains again and we had lunch at the beautiful Ouzzound waterfalls, some 10 kms off the main road. Today we were celebrating a birthday of one of the fellow riders and an enjoyable evening of cold drinks, pizza and music was had around the pool of our hotel. It was a memorable night for a us all to remember.
The road to Meknes has had some major works since our last visit in 2019 and the endless twisties on fresh tarmac and the remote rocky scenery made this one of the best ride days of the tour. Whilst fuelling up on the outskirts of Meknes a local motorcycle police office was fascinated by our bikes and insisted on giving us a police escort to the hotel, lights flashing and blowing his whistle to stop traffic as we triumphantly rode through town with VIP treatment. Navigating to the hotel today was a breeze.
40 minutes from our hotel are Volubilis ruins, a partially excavated Berber – Roman city. Founded in the 3rd century BC it became an important outpost for the Roman empire and is the best-preserved archaeological site in Morocco. It is thought that Volubilis was once the capital of the kingdom of Mauretania. Our local guide Achmed, took us for a walk around the site and many of the clients found this one of the best off bike highlights of the tour and rightfully so, it’s truly fascinating and only a very small portion of the site has been excavated, it is immense.
Our last stop in Morocco was in Asilah, a fortified city located on the northwest tip of the Atlantic Coast, just one hour away from the Port of Tangiers where we would be taking a morning ferry back to Spain. The old town of Asilah was built by colonial Portuguese and dates back to the 15th century. We had time before dinner where some enjoyed a swim in the ocean and leisurely walk on the white sandy beach. We enjoyed expresso martinis and some of the local beer (Casablanca) before enjoying one of the nicest meals of the tour at the Port XIV restaurant. Whilst we had been enjoying the local tagine dishes some Mediterranean cuisine and local seafood including local swordfish and prawns was welcomed.
It was an early start today as we needed to be at the port at 7am for our 8am sailing. Today we were having breakfast in Morocco, lunch in Gibraltar and dinner in Spain. Three meals in three countries. Gibraltar is a British Overseas Territory and was ruled by the Spanish until 1713 before being ceded to the British. Known for the Rock of Gibraltar (a 421 metre high limestone ridge) and also for its airport which has a reputation as one of the most scariest in the world. Traffic lights control pedestrians and traffic as the aircraft land and take off. A runway of 1800 metres long, just enough room for an airbus than needs 1400 metres to land. Its spectacular.
We enjoyed a lunch of English style fish and chips and a short bus tour through the old town and a visit to the impressive St Michael’s caves.
Passing back through Spanish immigration and back on the bikes we rode a section of the Costa del Sol before heading north into the mountaintop city of Ronda, spectacularly set onto above a deep 120 metre high gorge. A parador is a hotel which is owned and administered by the Spanish government and there are ninety-seven of them in Spain. They are very popular with both tourists and locals. We stayed at the Parador de Ronda one of the most popular paradors and no doubt, the best accommodation in town with its fine views over the gorge. We had lunch at a Michelin Star restaurant, enjoying an array of local tapas and sampling local wines and beers. It’s no surprise our stay in Ronda was a highlight for many.
Granda was next on the itinerary and is home to the Alhambra, an ancient palace, fortress and citadel located and is world heritage listed. Our hotel was conveniently located near the site and we enjoyed a guided tour of the site.
Our last night in Spain was spent in Cordova best known for La Mezquita, an important Roman city and one of the world’s greatest Islamic buildings with an immense mosque dating back to 784 AD, in 1236, it became a Catholic Church.
Leaving Cordova we ascended into the Sierra de Hornachuelos, with a series of endless twisties and mountain scenery. Riding back roads through wine country and small Portuguese villages we overnighted in Evora, home to the Chapel of Bones, which is actually the final resting place of hundred of skulls and bones exhumed from the city graveyards in the 16th century. The main entrance to the chapel has a Portuguese inscription reading “We, the bones that are here await yours”. It’s certainly an eerie attraction not for the faint hearted!
Returning to Lisbon we dropped the motorcycles off at the bike supplier – the GS bikes had performed faultlessly.
A final group meal was enjoyed down at the waterfront and we reflected on what had been a fantastic 20 days, a tour many had been waiting years to enjoy. Seeing the big smiles and friendships formed, it would be fair to say that it was worth the wait!Adventure Motorcycling, Europe, Motorcycle Tour