Well, it’s been back to work this week following three weeks holidays. Why is it that after three weeks of burning sunshine, the day I return to work it pours down with rain all day? On the news they told us the summer had come to an end however the omens were in fact short lived. On Tuesday the clouds were gone and on Wednesday it was burning sunshine once again. I am not sure what I prefer.
My holiday’s were about the most eventful in a long time with three nights in Morocco, two in Ronda and 3 in Montpellier. A lot of travelling, especially on the 15 hour coach journey to France and back again 4 days later however it turned out to be well worth it. Asilah, a small town a half an hour taxi ride from the port of Tanger is a fascinating town and we were graced with the privilege of staying at a friend of a friend’s house in the middle of the medieval Medina. The best places to visit are not clearly signposted so it we needed our contacts to point us to the breakfast cafés with the best views and the most unspoilt beach in the area. In fact we hired a horse and cart for the day to take us to Paradise Beach where we situated ourselves in a typical Moroccan beach hut with tables and a small alcove at the back for a shady afternoon siesta. Swimming in the Atlantic was bliss after all this time in parched Madrid. In the evening we smeared ourselves in clay and felt oh so very exhilarated. The following day we spent the day in town, shopping and seeing the sites and in the evening went to a hammam, the typical arab baths, which was a pretty ferocious experience. Yes, they DO actually roll you onto your front and stand on you with their full weight.
In the taxi ride back to Tanger, we had to pull aside suddenly onto the verge in order to give way to King Mohammed VI mega convoy, a timely reminder of the feudal nature of Morocco. The following day the Spanish press announced an agreement to send Spanish and Moroccan troops to Haiti. Maybe he had in fact been on his way to his office for his conference call with Zapatero.
Ronda was a quieter affair though I did get to some of the best kept hammam ruins dating from Al Andalus. Ronda was one of the last enclaves to fall to the Christians and the hammam had to be built outside the City walls since the flight south of the muslim population led to severe population pressures on the region. The most famous site in Ronda is the Puente Nuevo. (new bridge) from which the view hundreds of metres down to the valley below causes a genuine sensation of vertigo and the “casas colgantes” or “hanging houses” that sit precariously on the cliff edge.
My arrival on Montpellier signalled the opportunity to get down to some genuine summer beach tourism. Apart from spending a few hours at the world renowned Piscine Olympique d´Antigone, a conversation with a local restaurant owner led me to the small town of Frontignan, a 30 minute bus ride away followed by a fair walk from the town to the beach. Besides the fairly constant wind the beach was exceptionally quiet and unspoilt and virtually everybody was French. Just about the best way of concluding the summer holidays.