A Travellerspoint blog

April 2007

Provence Home;

Draguignan; France

sunny 27 °C

The past week has been the most stressful of the trip so far, with my plans changing every few hours. One minute I am hopping on a train to the other side of the country, the next I’m moving to St Tropez to work, whilst awaiting the arrival of my passport. Finally however, the plans are becoming clear; Gryllzy is arriving around the 17th of May, this Wednesday I’m heading to St Tropez to start work for a few weeks and by the 1st of June Matt and I should be well and truly out of Provence and on our way to the pristine shores of San Sebastian in North East Spain. Booyah.

With most of my Mum’s side of the family scattered around Provence, Draguignan has always felt like a second home to me. For this reason the amount of sight-seeing I have done in the area has been fairly limited. The unusually hot weather and access to a car has allowed me to spend a lot of time lazing by the pool or heading to town with Aurelien and wandering around the cafés and bars. My highly active Grandparents usually manage to get us out of bed at around 7:30 for a walk around the hill and up through the forest, and every night ends with a game of ‘escalier’ or ‘stairs’. Just like old times.

Yesterday I caught up with Elizabeth and Hannah, Leah’s mum and sister, who are halfway through their own little ‘Eurotrip’. We caught up for pizza and wine and heard of their stories from Barcelona, London and the unexpected nudist beaches that surrounded their apartment in the south of France. Hannah, Aurelien and I went out last night and caught up with some of Aurelien’s friends, who treated us to a night of listening to The Red Hot Chilli Peppers whilst sitting and talking around the communal ‘shisha’, with almost always makes an appearance gatherings of French teens. We slept until 10 this morning and spent the rest of the day enjoying the sun and Aurelien’s amazing pool and house;

d_montage_..eur_003.jpg

Backflips, frontflips and a lot of skimming helped to relieve my continued craving for the ocean (a little);

d_montage_..eur_002.jpg

Whilst Aurelien’s dogs ran around the pool entranced by our sweet aquatic skills;

d_montage_..eur_005.jpg

The family also got together last Saturday to celebrate my cousin Marjolaine’s 10th birthday, arguably the cutest kid of our family, it wasn’t a surprise to see gift after gift after gift being handed to her.

marjoenvert_.jpg

From pink converses to a pair of roller blades every present was opened with a typical Marjo smile. On the drive home along the freeway we were overtaken at 160km/h by what could be the future of French travel; this weaving, single person car/bike invention,

original.jpg

With the stress of the last two weeks finally behind me, and the next few weeks falling into place I have been able to sit down, relax and enjoy some of the best things this region has to offer. Cheese, bread, wine and the odd conversation in a café with a good looking French girl.

Garrett in Draguignan;

Posted by clancy_of_ 00:11 Archived in France Tagged round_the_world Comments (1)

Little Waves of Hope;

Draguignan; France

sunny 26 °C

For the past two weeks I have been catching up with relatives in the south of France, whilst waiting for my ever elusive French passport to arrive from Sydney so I can start working. The passport had been sent to Sydney two months later than originally indicated, meaning that I was already on the other side of the world when it arrived. I sent a fax from Morocco on the 5th of April explaining that I would not be able to pick up my passport from Sydney and that if it was possible could the French consulate please send it to Draguignan where I would pick it up on my arrival. On the 22nd of April I was meant to head to Biarritz on the other side of France near the Spanish border to begin work for the summer season, however by the 16th of April my passport had still not arrived, so I decided to call the French consulate in Sydney. The opening hours or the consulate are from 9am to 1pm AEST; which with the time difference meant I had to call from France between 1am and 5am. When I finally got through to the consulate at 2:15am; I was told by the “very helpful” French woman that my passport was being sent on the 19th and would arrive in; 6 weeks! Heading to Biarritz during the next month went out the window, and I had to begin thinking about finding work in the region.

The next day we made the trip to the tourist mecca that is St Tropez. With it’s €30 million yachts and even more impressive beach side houses, it is a place where money definitely does matter.

Garrett_019.jpg

We met up with a distant relative of ours, Jean Paul Vasse, with whom we sailed around the bay admiring the beaches and houses with their $50 million price tags. Stories of drug trafficking and mafia connections surround most of the multi million dollar homes; and the list of celebrity holiday getaways just goes on and on and on.

Garrett_014.jpg

Over lunch we talked about our distant family connections with the 18th century French sailor Timothy Vasse; whom the town of Vasse in Geographe Bay is now named after, and the possibility of me working in St Tropez for the next 5 weeks whilst waiting for my French passport to arrive.

On a positive note; the south of France at my grandparent’s house isn’t the worst place in the world to be stuck.

Garrett_001.jpg

Garrett_004.jpg

I have spent the past week indulging in French food, wine and weather, seeing relatives and lazing by their pool that overlooks the town of Draguignan and south towards St Tropez. The only thing that this place lacks, is the surf that is currently hitting Biarritz on the Atlantic coast; however the wake behind the Vasse’s boat did provide some little waves of hope;

Garrett_008.jpg

Garrett in Draguignan; France

Posted by clancy_of_ 00:04 Archived in France Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Essaouirian Life and France Bound

Morocco/France

sunny 32 °C

Fresh from two weeks of travelling on second rate buses; eating roadside bbq's of meat offcuts; cold showers; squat toilets and the complete absence of the english language. The Australian welcome at the very 'chilled' riad "Dar Afram" in Essaouira's medina came as a comforting surprise. The riad, hidden down a small Moroccan alley has no signing indicating it's location except for a small "Dar Afram" and guitar on the front door; giving a little incite as to the overall vibe of the riad; music.

IMG_0002.jpg

Taz the Moroccan/Australian from Newcastle with his completely aussie accent showed me round th riad with it's 5 floors and rooftop terrace looking out over Essaouira and the atlantic ocean.

IMG_0463.jpg

The Riad's musical vibe is in no small part as a result of Taz's dad. Owner of the riad he travelled the world with his band "Dar Afram" during the seventies and eighties and brings his musical talent to the riad with regular outbursts of singing and guitar jams. The Afram feasts are served at around 8 each night; cous cous, tagines, soups, fruits are all served in the communal dining area filled wih traditional Morocan lounges surrounded by slowly burning candles. Providing the perfect atmosphere to chat away the night passing around the odd 'Morrocan delicacy' whilst jamming on the digeridoo and guitars.

IMG_0445.jpg

Essaouira has had a massive boost in the level of tourism over the past few years and this has resulted in the opening of several clubs, or 'boit de nuit'. On my second night I had been given the directions to the club and began to walk along the medina wall; I walked past a restaurant with a few men standing out the front and asked one of them if they knew where the bar was;
'upstairs' whispered the big moroccan. Five flights of stairs later the floor opened out with a DJ, stretched bar and around a hundred people, mostly westerners, were lounged about drinking a few 'illegal' Beck's and Heineken's. The price of alcohol in Morocco is about twice that of Australia especially after midnight when the prices go up even further; this doesn't seem to affect the Morrocan's however as they tend to be fairly out of it after one or two beers. When I was at the bar talking to a girl from Sweden and just avoiding a fight with a drunk fifty year old Italian; I heard another familiar accent from across the bar and was invited back to the 'Australian' table; the group of three blonde, one brunette Australian girls had a swarm of Morrocan guys around them trying their hardest to impress the 'beautiful foreign goddesses'.
"You are the most beautiful woman I have ever seen." and
"I am a pro kitesurfer" seemed to be their favourite pick up lines for the night. We sat around in the Morrocan lounges until around 2; chatting, drinking and dancing, to sweet arabic beats.

For the next few days I felt like I was back in Australia with all my time spent with Australian's; drinking, bargaining in the souqs, jamming on guitars and tanning on the riad roof.

IMG_0448.jpg

After the night before's hassles from the Morrocan guys; we ended up chillin in the riad and drinking classy Morrocan wine into the night. With the music being provided by someones mobile; Young Mc - Bust a Move.

Photo_015.jpg

The Aussie girls headed back to their jobs in London; Taz continued to work in Morocco; and I headed off to Marrakesh to catch my flight to France. With a few more glasses of wine to kick off easter and to mark an end to a sweet adventure along the coast of Morocco.

Photo_011.jpg

An Australian couple Anouk and Nathan who were travelling round the world with the theme of hiking in mind had just arrived in Morocco from Nepal and were off to the High Atlas to trek some more; they had hours of stories from Nepal to tell and made my trip seem like luxury in comparison to some of the things they had to deal with.That arvo I managed to score a lift on an earlier bus to Marrakesh allowing me to avoid missing my plane.

I then arrived via taxi into the chaos that is Marrakesh airport on the last day of the Easter long weekend. With ticket machines bursting open; "free plane ride anyone?";

IMG_0464.jpg

Delays, cancelations and more delays; it began to feel as though no one was going to get out of Morocco that night. Each plane tha arrived was accompanied by cheers from the hundreds of people sitting around on the floor of the Morrocan airport doing their best to pass the time.

IMG_0467.jpg

Three American girls I was talking to had a really good story;
They are studying in Barcelona and had come to Morocco for a week; they had a plane to Barcelona that morning but slept through their alarm and missed their flight. Because it was easter, everything was booked out but there was a flight at 7pm to Madrid from which they could catch the 5 hour train to Barcelona. They waited at the airport from 7am till 7pm to be told their plane would be delayed by an hour. Then an hour later they said it would be a further hour; then an hour later they announced it would be delayed again for an hour. Then finally at aroun 10pm they were told that the flight had been cancelled. The Easyjet representative stood up and told this crowd of a hundred fuming Spaniards and the three American girls, that they promised they would have an alternative flight for them to Madrid within.......
yes....within "14 DAYS!". Welcome to Morocco.

I was lucky and my flight was only delayed by 4 hours leaving at 12pm; I arrived in Marseille at 4am and everything in the airport was closed. By this time I had been awake for 21 hours; I then had a 4 hour wait in the airport which involved constant trips to the espresso machine. It is now 12pm and I am finally settled in; in an hour I will have been awake for 30 hours and after the hassles of the past few days; I am definitely ready to sleep.

Morocco was incredible; a country of many colours with something to appeal to everyone, I will definitely be back. Amazing Adventure.

IMG_0299.jpg

Garrett in Marseille; France.

Posted by clancy_of_ 23:39 Archived in Morocco Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Coast Road;

Essaouira; Morocco

sunny 27 °C

The day had arrived; where Sidi Ifni and my 5x3m room were to no longer be my home. The sunsets, waves, poker nights, pool games, excited kids, didgeridoo jams, tagines, cous cous and the amazing Sidi Ifni crew were to be left behind as Yoan and I embarked on our 5 and a half hour journey north to the coastal town of Essaouira.

111.jpg

The winding narrow roads didn't help my raging stomach which was already recovering from a few nights of street side barbeques at $1 a burger. And the unexpected culinary adventure that Renaud and I embarked on; when amongst the meat in our sheep tagine we came across a well cooked sheep's testical. With true moroccan spirit and after several minutes deliberation we decided to go halves; and slowly but successfully ate the Moroccan delicacy.

Image51.jpgImage61.jpg

We arrived in Essaouira just after sunset; it was the start of the Easter long weekend and the town was packed with tourists. After the slowness of pace in Ifni and the complete lack of tourism the bustling medina with its souqs and hustlers felt a bit to much. It felt exactly like the scene of The Beach; where after a few weeks in a tropical paradise, returning to the usual tourist route makes you realise just how good that paradise you had was. We searched around for the hotel Riad Dar Afram ran by some Australian Morrocan's; but they were booked for the night. Yoan had lived in Essaouira for a couple of months and new a sweet location just south on the beach where we could crash and sleep in the car; we drove down the 4WD track to the beach where we crashed for the night, and awoke to the sounds of some small waves breaking just over the dunes.

11.jpg

Yoan headed off at 8 the next morning to continue his trek up to Spain; whilst I went back to Dar Afram to crash and begin my few days exploring the souqs, medina and beaches that surround this sweet little coastal community.

Garrett in Essaouira; Morocco.

Posted by clancy_of_ 07:00 Archived in Morocco Tagged round_the_world Comments (1)

Didg Jam in the Foreign Land;

Sidi Ifni; Morocco

sunny 30 °C

For over a week now Sidi Ifni; the small spanish enclave on the edge of the Sahara Desert; has been my home. The slow pace of the small city is very noticeable and seems to cause every day to blend in with the next; with surfing, pool, eating, sunsets and the occasional wander into the markets making up the list of daily activities. The hills which surround the city enclose it and enhance the feeling of isolation that is present from the moment you first arrive in Ifni.

Image5.jpg

The wind has been offshore for two days now and a nice 2m swell has been running along the coast; causing the right handed pointbreak in front of the town creativley named 'la droit', to be working nicely. The tides here are fairly regular and the surf session for 'la droit' is at the moment lasting from about 11:30 till around 4:00 in the arvo. Yesterday at 12 the wave was working the best it had in a long time and every surfer in town was on the water; yes all six of us.

The trick to Ifni is finding what to do when theres no surf; yesterday morning it ended up being a didgeridoo jam in the streets with the local kids with Renaud taking photos and Yoan doing his best to play the stick from oz.

Image2.jpg

The hallways which lead down to the front doors of the lime walled homes provide a sweet resonating sound for the didg; causing the sound to be much louder and attracting the attention of most of the kids playing soccer in the streets.

Image6.jpg

They all wanted to try and play and would just take in turns blowing into the didg then run off laughing when the sound they made was nothing like what the expected, or like some kids it made no sound at all.

Image1.jpg

Along the beach just north of Sidi Ifni is a Spanish fisherman living in a cave overlooking the sea; always very welcoming he'll excitedly talk to you about how the waves and surf has been lately over a glass of mint tea.

Image4.jpg

The town is filled with some of the most crazy and interesting people I have ever met; like the 60 year old eldery lady who lives on the beach in Ifni and lives here when she is not at Oxford in the UK. The elegantly speaking english lady proceeded to tell me and a friend that she apologises if she is rambling because she's just been down the beach and thinks she might have smoked just a bit too much 'kif'. The arabic word for cannabis. Or like this old dude roaming through the markets;

Image7.jpg

Last night Renaud and I and these two english girls, Beth and Lindsey who were heading south to Ghana, went to the Hotel Suerta Loca for a mint tea to chill away the night. Around 11 ocklock the hotel restaraunt started to close and these three arabic musicians one on electric guitar and two on bongos started to set up their equipment, a french guy who is in Ifni with his girlfriend ran up to his room and got his guitar aswell; I headed off and grabbed my didg. We spent the next 2 hours jamming into the night to a mixture of Bob Marley, Led Zepplin and anything we could make up. The crowd of around 25 crammed into the little restaraunt kept the beat going with some costant clapping; whilst the rest of us played until the absinth tea wore off and the cous cous sunk in and all I felt like doing was sleeping.

On Wednesday Yoan is making the 20 hour drive up the coast to a town just east of Tangier to catch the ferry over to France; I'm going to head up halfway with him to the coastal fishing city of Essaouria; spend a few days there and then head into Marrakesh for my flight to Marseille in the south of France. It's been a sweet experience in Morocco; from the surf to the people and not to mention the sweet African sunsets.

Image3.jpg

Garrett in Sidi Ifni; Morocco

Posted by clancy_of_ 04:15 Archived in Morocco Tagged round_the_world Comments (1)

(Entries 1 - 5 of 5) Page [1]