Here are some of our favorite photos from the trip (each photo is a thumbnail linked to a higher quality picture. There are three pages of photos in total):
1) We started off with a day to explore the Spanish city of Malaga before starting the tour. We wandered the maze-like streets of the old town until we found the excellent Picasso museum (Picasso is one of Jonna's favorite artists, so this was a real treat).
2) While in Malaga we also visited the Alcazaba, an 11th century Moorish fortification that is sometimes called a mini-Alhambra. The citadel has beautiful gardens, fountains, patios and courtyards. We enjoyed its serenity and lack of tourists.
3) The highlight of the Alcazaba is the peaceful Cuartos de Granada (aka Quarters of Granada) which was the living quarters of the king. As the name implies, this reminded us of our visit to the Alhambra in Granada back in 2005.
4) While leaving Spain, we did a side trip into the UK...a visit to Gibraltar. We did a short (crazy?) van tour of The Rock including a visit to St. Michael's Cave. As you can see from this photo the formations in the cave are impressive. This spacious cave has excellent acoustics and has an auditorium built inside that sometimes hosts concerts.
5) Alan and a Barbary macaque, regarding each other on top of The Rock of Gibraltar. There are around 300 of these monkeys living on the rock and they are a protected species. The popular legend (primarily popular to the British) is that Gibraltar will stay under British rule as long as there are "apes on The Rock".
6) While it is nice to say we visited the Rock of Gibraltar, getting on and off the island was difficult and time consuming. Here is Jonna waiting in the "express" motorcycle line to go through Customs/Immigration and to return to Spain.
7) Finally, after a short ferry ride, we arrive on the north coast of Africa. But wait, we are still in Spain! In this case, the Spanish city of Cueta. (Spain kept control of Ceuta in 1956 when Morocco was given its independece and the city feels Andalucian rather than Moroccan.) This statue in Cueta represents the ancient Greek legend of mighty Hercules who separating Europe and Africa by pushing the Rock of Gibraltar apart from nearby Jebel Musa.
8) Our first day of riding in Morocco was a rainy one so we were quite happy to arrive at the Casa Hassan hotel in Chefchaouen. Prior to becoming a hotel, this building was a dar: a typical Moroccan home built in the medina quarter of Arabic style cities. This was the door to our room in the hotel.
9) Our first meal in Morocco included bread, Moroccan salads, harissa soup, local olives, mint tea and Alan's obligatory Coke.
10) Chefchaouen is known for is distinctive blue and white buildings. This is a typical street scene in the souk (aka the market)...also note the angled stones form a gutter in middle of the street. These were little raging torrents during our visit thanks to the recent rain.
11) Luckily the hotel in Chefchaouen had a large fireplace in the foyer which gave our group a warm place to dry our soaking motorcycle gloves.
12) Alan, Jonna and Alain our new friend (and fellow tour member) from Quebec got a little lost near the town of Arbaoua. We ended up doing a little "off road" riding on our trip out to the Atlantic coast.
13) We arrived in Rabat, the capital of Morocco, at dusk but still had time for a quick trip through the medina, the souk and to visit the building pictured here: the mausoleum of King Mohammad V.
14) In Casablanca, we visited the Hassan II Mosque. This is the largest mosque in the country and one of the largest in the world. It is also the only mosque in Morocco that non-Muslims can visit. We were lucky to get a tour of the mosque and its surrounding community buildings.
15) We can't resist a cat when traveling and Morocco provided many opportunites. This feline had made its home in a park across from the mosque.
16) This photo was taken inside the main hall of the mosque but doesn't begin to capture how impressive it was. This ornate hall holds 100,000 people and the massive, 1,100 ton roof can be opened making the prayer hall open to the skies (the roof was closed when we visited because it had rained that morning).
17) Even this stairwell inside the mosque is elaborately ornamented. This photo shows both the massive size of the building and the intricate detail of the artwork.
18) Below the prayer hall was the ablution room where the ritual cleaning of the body is performed before prayer.
19) Jonna in front of the massive titanium doors on the outside of the Hassan II mosque. Titanium was used because is both light weight and it resists corrosion. This is important since the mosque is built on a platform that extends out over the Atlantic Ocean.
20) Our last stop in Casablanca was for a lovely lunch at the Tahiti Beach Resort. Here we are with our BMW bikes in front of the restaurant.
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