Tag Archives: France

One Year of Faces: Part 2

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One Year of Faces: Part 1

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On the 23rd of this month Richie and I celebrated one year on the road! 365 remarkable days! If there’s one thing that has characterised the experience for us, it’s the people. As a tribute to the places we’ve been and the friends we’ve made, I offer a gallery of faces: each one beautiful and unforgettable in its own way.

These are people with whom we’ve couch surfed, Wwoofed, played, partied, wept, worked and dreamt. Thank you, each and every one of you, for the inspiration you’ve offered us; the chance to mingle our life journeys with yours.

Thank you… شكرا… спасибо… σας ευχαριστώ… gràcies… 谢谢… tak… merci… მადლობა გადაგიხადოთ… תודה… grazie… ຂໍຂອບໃຈທ່ານ… با تشکر از شما… mulțumesc… ¡gracias… teşekkür ederim… diolch i chi… Ake Issrebeh Moulana… tanemmirt…

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Hossin’ it to Venice

Richie and I have been known to attempt rash and zany things, especially whilst on the road. A whiff of adventure, a challenge, a dare, and we’re off, scheming of ways to reach B from A; testing the mettle of our spirits and the imperviousness of the soles of our hiking boots.

If they were made for walking, what’s the point in standing still?

It was during a particularly low moment during our stay in Barcelona that we decided to intercept Richie’s parents on their 18-day cruise of the Mediterranean. We were lonely and could do with a merry rendezvous. On the 14th of April Kay and Steve would be disembarking the Queen Victoria in Venice. Why not surprise them there, and spend a memorable 6 hours walking the streets; lagoon water lapping at our toes and the taste of gelato in our mouths.

Reaching Venice on the 14th left us with a window of 4 nights to get from Figueres (in the northeast Spain). We considered flying, then thought better of it. Why not hitch?

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The Tangier Dash

On the 23rd of January we set off on the first leg of our ‘overland to Oz’ adventure. In a mad dash to get to Morocco we passed through four countries in half as many days. It’s not a style of travelling I normally endorse, but it’s remarkable how far you can travel in Europe, and how quickly, when you’re motivated by the thought of rejuvenation in warmer climes and spurred on by a hunger for mint tea and cous cous.

We traversed the spaces between Norfolk, England and Tangier, Morocco by bus, bus, train, train, ferry, then bus. Ejected into the sunshine and luminosity of Africa’s northernmost country we pinched ourselves and said with a mixture of surprise and disbelief, “We’re here. What do we do next?” Feeling like Dorothy – a long way from Kansas – we enacted the usual circus of finding ‘gas, food, lodgings’, amid a million entreaties to buy kif, smoke kif, eat kif…

I don’t care what the rest of the world says, Tangier is brilliant! The trees in the street are festooned with spheres of orange – citrus aplenty – and the Medina is alive with exchanges, equal and unequal, of money, goods, services and greetings. “Salam alaikum”. “Hola”. “Bonjour”. “Ca va”.

Fumbling with the currency and our few meagre words of French, we found ourselves a table at a cafe on the Rue de I’talie, taking part in the clamour and elegance of life in the medina by imbibing our first sweet glassfuls of coffee and ‘tae-a-la menthe’ (mint tea).

Everywhere, people were dressed in the local garb: a long-sleeved ankle-length tunic called the ‘djellaba’. Hoods up. Hoods down. Homespun. Viscose. Patterned. Plain. Everyone wore theirs differently. Some women wore head scarves. Others did not. Mobile phones were in hand. Hand carts reeled by… it was Hemingway’s ‘moveable feast’ all over. And after two days of sitting, standing, making connections and trying to stay awake on trains, we were glad to be there. Taking part. Spectating. Savouring. But also, equally, not there: caught in the no man’s land between departing and arriving. ‘Jet lag’, we learnt, is not just for those who travel by plane: it’s as much a psychological as it is a physiological condition.

And like all ‘first’ days in a new country, this one ended in bed, where we hoped to round off the experience with a little sleep. Thereby giving our souls the opportunity to catch up with our bodies – which were viscerally, undeniably, unambiguously in Tangier, Morocco!

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