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July 2002 Daily Diary

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(Morocco, Spain, France, Germany)


This day turned out to almost nothing. We walked to the bus station at around 8:00 am and bought tickets to Fes.  We decided not do stay a night in Meknes.  These imperial cities look a lot alike to the untrained eye.  The bus ride turned out to be a real bad one. First it took 10 hours instead of the 8 hours the ticket office said it would take. We got in a little fight with the baggage man on the bus for the price of our baggage.  We ended up paying nothing in the end even though we offered to pay something.  The ride was bumpy and very boring the whole way.  The landscape was not to exciting. A lot of dry farms along the way.  In the early evening we arrived in Fes. The bus let us out at the wrong place, so we had to walk a half an hour to find a hotel. The first two hotels tried to scam us with ridiculous prices.  Also there were a lot of touts running around looking for business.  We eventually took one hotel, even though it was a dump.  It was going to be only for one night anyway.  We then walked around the souqs a little and bought a 6 kilo watermelon for dinner.  We later ate the watermelon back in our room before going to bed.  We had a hard time sleeping, for one the bed was disgusting and second it was fairly noisy outside.


At 4:00 am we think the prayers over the loud speakers woke us up.  It was really loud. The first thing in the morning was going to the bus station to find information on when buses were going to Chefchaouen.  There was a 12:15 pm bus, which would allow us enough time to walk around the city.  A couple of places like the palace was closed on Tuesdays and most of the mosques are closed in general to non Muslims here in Morocco.  We walked around the souqs a while. They all look the same and sell the same stuff in every town we visited in Morocco.  We also walked outside the Dar Batha (closed on Tuesdays) and the Kairaouine Mosque. The city is nice, but one is hassled a lot by people wanting to be your guide for the day. At 11:30 am we were at the bus station, where we bought tickets to Chefchaouen.  The bus ride was ok, but no for a lot of people on the bus.  People were throwing up all over the place.  They went through a lot of plastic bags.  It stunk pretty bad. In Chefchaouen, we eventually found a hotel.  Paid more than we wanted but it was a nice hotel and they had a book exchange which was good.  Kirk had run out of things to read.  We then walked around town a little and bought another watermelon.  This time an 8 Kilogram watermelon for 1.20 US$.  We had trouble finishing it, but we managed eventually.  We then walked around the small streets for a while before we went back to the hotel. Later we took a walk to the internet cafe to check our email. Kirk bought another pair of pants, and then we went back to the hotel room.  There we took a much needed shower and Maren also did some laundry while Kirk worked on our web pages.


This morning we walked around town and Kirk got his pants tailored.  We then decided to get a bus to Sebta Morocco.  The bus ride was ok, nothing again special happened.  Well that is not actually wanting to get into an argument again on how much one is supposed to pay. When we bought our tickets we paid the 10 DH for our bags.   Well just as we sat down and started smearing our baguettes with the tomato paste we had just bought, this one tooth guy came rushing into the bus wanting 10 more DH from us for our bags. We at first did not believe what he was telling us.   We tried to explain to him that we already paid 10 DH, but he was nuts and could not get his story straight.  Kirk then had enough and started yelling at the guy to get lost and that we had already paid.   He eventually got off the bus. Maren then asked the guy we paid what was going on and he said that we paid enough.  What sort of gets one mad in this situation is not that one had already paid, probably more than the locals, it is always that they are trying to squeeze you for some more.  Also no one in the bus came to our so call rescue and told the guy we had already paid enough and enough was enough.  They all just sat there like it was normal and ok to rip off foreigners.  If this happened in Europe or Germany there would be a major uproar on how we treat foreigners.  This guy came into the bus angry and threatening us about something that we in all honestly already paid for.  It was not right and that no one on the bus said anything to him in our defense, makes one wonder.  When we arrived in Sebta we first did a little food shopping before catching a taxi to the border.  We had to bargain a little. Maren had only 7,7 Dh in change instead of the 8 DH we agreed upon, but the taxi driver said it was ok and told us to have a good trip.  After passing through Moroccan immigration we were surprised that we did not have to show our passports going into Spain.  There we got a local bus to the ferry.  We were able to get a student discounts for the tickets on the fast ferry. It was only supposed to take 35 minutes, but it took actually 55 minutes from Ceuta to Algeciras.  There we decided to spend the night in Algeciras and take the first bus to Granada.  After checking our email we walked around, had a baguette in a small park and then went back to the hotel.  What is really weird is that there is a 2 hour time difference between Morocco and Spain.   The time goes ahead 2 hours when crossing over from Morocco into Spain, even when crossing from Sebta to Ceuta.  In the evening we took showers and wrote our diary. It is really nice that it does not get dark until around 10:00 pm.


We got the 8:00 am bus to Granada this morning.  It took around 4 hours and we arrived just before 12:00 pm.  There we bought our tickets for a night bus to Madrid for tonight.  It was then off to the center of town to do a little sightseeing.  We wanted to visit the Alhambra.  Well being so experienced at traveling we took the long way to the Alhambra.  We probably walked around 10 Km too much until we finally got there. It should have taken probably 15 or 20 minutes.  The Alhambra was packed just as the guide book said it is a lot of the time. They actually only let in 8000 visitors per day.  The Alhambra is supposedly one of the greatest and fascinating pieces of Islamic art. It consists of the  Alcazaba, Alhambra Fortress, The Palacio Nazaries, and the Generalife gardens.  The Palacio Nazaries had an interior made up of small carvings on the wall.  The interior of the palace was very impressive.  The rest of the complex was very beautiful and nice to walk around in.  The entrance costs 7 Euro to visit everything.  We then walked down to the Cathedral, this time taking the 15 minute route.  Afterwards we walked around town some more before doing some food shopping and checked our email.  We then had our baguettes and tomato sauce for dinner in a small park.  We then walked back to the bus station around 9 pm. There Kirk charged the batteries at a electricity outlet he found and updated some pages. The bus to Madrid left at around 11:00 pm.


The bus arrived around 4 am in the morning in Madrid. We hardly slept at all. There we slept a while at the bus station, because all the booths for information were closed.  After Maren was got some information we decided to take the Metro to another bus station to get some more bus information. Well that is when it happened. The metro trains were all really full. We actually waited until a few passed until we thought we would be able to get in. Well that is when Kirk noticed his wallet missing.  The train was so stuffed we could barely move. Perfect place for a pickpocket. We actually had a feeling who did it and confronted them and followed them. They were guilty but were able to get away from us by switching who had the wallet and jumping onto another train. We should have yelled, but Kirk was also thinking if he had lost it somewhere else and that the two guys we thought did it were not European, we did not want to accuse them out of racial concerns.  Which was stupid in the end, because they got away with around 60 US$, Kirk thinks. At least there was no documentation in there, that is what we think.  After chasing around the metro station and then seeing the guys were no longer there, we went to the police station to file a report. Not that it will mean anything, it will be just for their statistics.  Maren asked and they said it happens a lot in the center of town.  We then decided to take a night bus out Madrid to Paris.  This was good, just two days before we were home we got robbed.  At least it was not for much, just money.  We were happy they did not get our laptop with all the pictures and our diary.  We then took the subway into the center. We first visited the Prado Museum, which has paintings from the 15th to the 19th century, including the paintings of Velazquez, Goya, and El Greco.  The most famous painting is Las Meninas by Velazquez.  Maren appreciated the art more than Kirk.  We then walked to the Plaza de Mayo and the Palacio Real.  It was then to the Parque del Buen Retiro and then we decided to go to the Museum Centro de Arte Reina Sofia with paintings and sculptures from the early 20th century. The most famous painting is Picasso's Guernica.  There are also other paintings by Salvador Dali and Joan Miro.  We then walked back to bus station this time.  The bus left Madrid at 8:30 pm.  The first stop we had we realized we were heading north because it was really cold.


During the night as usual we did not sleep that much. The seats were ok, but not that comfortable to sleep in.  The bus arrived 1.5 hours late in Paris, which sort of put a whole in our plans.  We wanted to see Paris a little, then catch a bus back to Cologne to surprise Maren's best friend Anne for her birthday when she celebrates at 12:00 am tonight. There were no buses leaving at the right time.  So we quickly got a metro ticket to go to the train station to see if we could get a train home. There we found a train that would make it to Cologne on time, even though it would cost us over double a bus would cost us to take.  But it was very important to Maren that we got there tonight.  We had to wait in the ticket line for ever. Every line took at least a half an hour before one was at the counter. They did not have a very good system.  Afterwards we put our luggage into the expensive luggage storage and then waited in line again for Metro tickets. We wanted to do a little quick sightseeing in Paris.  Well on the way what happened.  Some kids tried to pickpocket Maren.  Maren realized it though and they got nothing. They were then on the train with us and they started looking at us really weird. One of them eventually said something over Kirks mother in German. That is when the train stopped. Kirk went directly to the kid and pushed him hard and whacked him out of the way.  Another kid he also pushed out of the way. They were surprised.  But after they regrouped they looked for us. But we were standing next to a couple of police officers and they then ran away. We have this feeling now that we look like sucker tourists.  Sometimes we feel a little guilty that we criticized South Americas crime problem so much. But we did not let this instant ruin our last day.  We first went to the Arc de Triumph and then down to the Eiffel Tower. The area was packed with tourists. There must have been a 5 hour wait to get up the tower.  We did not have anytime anyway to go up. We then walked along the Seine to the Louvre and then onto the Cathedral Notre Dame.  We did a lot of quick walking, because we only had a few hours.  But it was worth the stopover, even though the weather was not great.  It was good to see Paris again.  We then took the metro back to the train station where Maren called her sister to say hello of course, but also so she would pick us up from the train station.  The train left on time at 6:55 pm for the 4 hour ride to Cologne.  On the train Kirk wrote the last days of the diary, actually what he is doing at the moment.  Well that is the end of our trip. We will see what comes next.  We hope that the people who followed our trip and read our diary enjoyed it and maybe learned something along the way!  We will write some after thoughts later.  Goodbye!!!

















































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