All posts tagged: family travel

From a van, somewhere in the Pyrenees

I’m aware that there has been far too long a gap in my postings and, for those who are still interested in our wanderings, I apologise for being absent from this blog for so long. Right now, we’re nestled on the edge of the Pyrenees, covered in blankets, the boys gazing up excitedly at snow covered peaks towering around us. And I still have much to tell, and so many pictures to share from our journey but there are various factors that have been affecting my ability to post. Back in Croatia, I started to feel some awkwardness about writing of our own travels away from home – the difficulties and the excitements – when so many people were, and still are, undertaking journeys of survival; leaving their homes behind them to seek safety and refuge. I was moaning about tedious border crossings in the van, while at the same time thousands of refugees were waiting in Hungarian train stations, arriving at desperately pressured Greek islands, travelling across treacherous seas, and trying to find rest …

Sky Mirrors – The Ebro Delta

(if you’d like to hear a soundtrack to these pictures, go to the bottom of the page and click the You Tube vid.) Due to a bit of a mix up on our part, we found that we had longer to hang about after Bicorp than we thought. We’d arranged to go and visit a friend at Finca Slow, a permaculture/regenerative olive farming operation, but ¬†somehow we’d got it into our heads that it was much further away from us, close to the French border. In fact, it is not far from Tarragona, south of Barcelona and only a couple of hour’s drive away. When it dawned on us (hanging about doing very little on the coast at that point) that we actually had about five days to kill, we were forced to do a bit of a re-think. In our usual haphazard manner, we looked at the book,¬†and just picked a couple of places in the area to stop at. One of these places turned out to be the remarkable Ebro Delta. Allowing the …

The Alpujarras, Orgiva and a birthday

After bidding one set of grandparents a tearful goodbye in Granada, we drove off to Orgiva in the Alpujarras, an almost legendary place of beauty and alternative living. We’d heard about its little hippy camps that had sprung up there since the 1970s and how that community had grown with more and more dreamers turning up every year, their heads filled with visions of freedom and sunshine. We wondered what we, always with one eye out for a different kind of life, would find there. Would we feel a pull to this sunny mountain idyll as so many before us had? Even as we drove into the lovely little campsite just before Orgiva, surrounded by the hills of the Alpujarras, we felt a wave of positivity. We had another grandparental visit due in just over a week at Velez Malaga, not too far from where we already were, so we decided to spend the intervening time in and around Orgiva. It was the longest we’d stopped anywhere in all our travels up to that point. …

10 Things to be Aware of When Visiting Morocco

#1 The roads The roads, other than the big toll motorways, are pretty bad. Admittedly probably not so bad if you’re in a car rather than a 22ft motorhome, but even then they’re a long way off what I’m used to. One of my main gripes was width, with even major roads only just wide enough for two cars to pass each other and certainly not a whole lot of breathing space. Potholes, of which there are many, are another major nuisance with some roads seeming to consist mostly of pothole and not much else. The edges of many of the roads are strangely broken away so that if you did want to give that enormous coach hurtling towards you at 100 mph a little more room, you’d fall off the mini-cliff at the edge of the road and crash anyway. It all makes for some pretty hairy driving at times but as I say a car would not be quite as problematic as a motorhome. #2 Coaches If I went to Morocco again I …

Photoblog – Azrou, Volubilis & Chefchaouen

Given that the blog is now approximately eight weeks behind our actual lives, I’m attempting to cover some ground with this photoblog. The chronology is a little out but apart from Fez these three places were our last stops in Morocco and we drove like people possessed to get round them before we had to zoom off to Spain to see waiting grandparents. I’m going to wrap up the Morocco adventures with the next two posts and then it’ll be all about Espana! But for now enjoy these last few piccies (and Rob’s little debut) – especially the ones of Chefchaouen, which was a total treat for a lass that likes to take photographs. Azrou Volubilis – Rob I used to be an archaeologist, and while I got tired of scraping around in the earth looking for tiny fragments of pottery, I retain a high level of geekery about ancient sites. I was very excited about visiting Morocco; the place is littered with remarkable remnants of the Roman Empire which I had been taught about …

sahara desert

Into the Desert

Going into the desert. It’s a concept loaded with meaning and not just for those of us who’ve broken our hearts watching Deborah Winger in The Sheltering Sky. From Laurence of Arabia to Jesus’ forty days and forty nights, it’s impossible to escape associations with solitude, vast unrepentent wilderness and the deep domed sky. I went to the desert expecting to feel small, to look out at miles and miles of undulating sand and contemplate my own insignificance amidst the hugeness of it all. Trekking on camels to a Berber camp? A night under the desert sky? This would surely be the ultimate traveller moment, wouldn’t it? Our desert ‘experience’ started with meeting our strangely lovable tour organiser and being taken to meet our camels and guides. The guides were dressed for tourists in the blue Berber robes we’d come to recognise at all the Moroccan visitor hotspots, but my first thought as we wobbled off on our camels was that if the guides were on foot surely that made our camel transport surplus to …

Ait Ben Haddou

Photo blog – Taliouine to Todra

In between what you see in these pictures, imagine us undertaking more crazy six hour drives up barely surfaced mountain roads in second gear. Imagine children running alongside our van sometimes waving, sometimes throwing stones and sometimes making *ahem* lewd gestures. Imagine us waiting for herds of goats just lying in the road. Imagine us taking detours more suited to a tank than a classic Hymer, where flooded rivers have blown the roads out. Imagine us stopping for lunch and shopping at a market where there are sheep’s heads piled on the floor outside the butcher’s stall. Imagine us wandering a town that’s featured in movies, where only a few people live but there’s a rug salesman around every corner. Imagine an American film crew running up and down steps in the heat of the afternoon, their sound guy looking as if he could do with some medical help. Imagine us walking through lush palmeries, heavy with the scent of almond blossom, where quietly intent people toil at their perfect little patches of fertile earth. …

Painted Rocks and Punctures

As it turned out, we entirely missed the almond blossom festival; not from arriving too late, as we’d feared, but in fact because we were two weeks early. We enjoyed Tafraoute so much, however, that it didn’t seem to matter that we were going to be leaving before the festvities began. Staying for nearly a week meant that we could adventure out beyond our immediate surroundings, and make a couple of guide-book suggested visits. Getting out to the painted rocks on our bikes was an opportunity for us to get out properly into the landscape. Having only biked between the van and the town, I think we were all eager to go on an expedition into the curious lumpy outcrops that characterise Tafroute’s surroundings. Rob and I canvassed opinion from fellow motorhomers and consulted various websites and guides on the exact distance to the rocks and the time it would take. As all parents know, cycling or walking with children is all fabulous fun until everyone gets tired and whiny and then something enjoyable becomes …

Tafraoute – Finding my Travelling Feet

After Essaouira we headed off down the coast with vague ideas of spending some time near the sea before heading to Tafraoute in the south of Morocco. Tafraoute had long been an eagerly anticipated destination for us. It was always to be the most southerly place on our itinerary, the town where we would finally adopt a slower pace of travel. Whilst Morocco dreaming and Google-searching from my kitchen table in Hebden Bridge I’d stumbled across heart-stirring pictures of blossoming almond trees set against arid red landscapes and discovered that every year the town of Tafraoute held a festival to celebrate this transient spectacle. The dates of the festival were hard to determine so we pledged to try and get there for early February in order not to miss it and it was this aim that had kept us moving so quickly. Through the empty, icy nights of central France, the grim downpours of Northern Spain and and the various trials of our first weeks in Morocco, Tafraoute pulled us on. I think it’s fair …