September 2017 - Portugal and Morocco

September 30, 2017

We visited Palace Bahia which is beautifully preserved and Palace Badi historic ruins museum. We had lunch and wandered the Souks again. We also visited the Secret Garden a garden found recently and restored. The boys had a wild adventure to Carrefour supermarket on a beer/ wine run. The taxi drive made our guide/driver Yusuf look tame. Drivers in Morocco are CRAZY! We went to Chez Ali a dinner Fantasia show recommended by a teacher friend Saloua from Morocco.

Morocco | Marrakech | Palace Bahia

Morocco| Marrikech | Chez Ali | Fantasia musicians

Morocco| Marrikech | Chez Ali | Fantasia

Morocco| Marrikech | Chez Ali | Fantasia

September 29, 2017

We had a wonderful experience on our Camel Trekkingtour . Our young driver and guide Yusuf was excellent. He spoke excellent English and answered all of our questions as we drove along. On our second day we continued through the Atlas Mtns visiting two beautiful gorges and then drove to the Golden Dunes in the Sahara. We had a 1 1/2 hour camel trek into our camp in the desert and watched the sunset along the way. Their were two other tourists in our train of 6 dromedaries. (one hump camel) We had a traditional Berber meal, chicken/vegetable Tajine for dinner and our camel drivers played drums for us. The stars were glorious.

Morocco | Golden Dunes Sahara Deser

Our third day was another 1 1/2 camel trek and sunrise in the dunes back to the hotel where we met up with Yosef again. We had a long day of driving back through the mountains to Marrakech. We've decided the Moroccna drivers are scarier than those we encountered in Romania and the Ukraine. The roads we traveled through the mountains were narrow with frequent hairpin turns. The guardrails were often missing or hanging damaged over the edge. Yosef as well as other drivers would pass 5 or 6 cars with one of these curves ahead. It was quite a scary drive and we were relieved when we arrived back in Marrakech safely.

Our new Riad Dar Daoud back in Marrakech is inside the Medina (souk) this time. Yusuf got us a guide to deliver us to our riad. We would never have found it alone. It is very cute and neat decorating touches throughout. Everyone is so helpful and speak English.

September 27, 2017

We left Merrakech with our guide/driver Yosef at 8 this morning. The scheduled tour was full so we paid a little extra and had a private tour for the four of us. What a gorgeous exciting day. We stopped in the High Atlas Mountains at Tizi Ntichka (2260m) a panoramic view overlooking Berber Villages/green valleys. We stopped at Kasbah Aitbenhadou where among others the movies Gladiatior and Game of Thrones were filmed. We had a nice lunch before we continued on our drive through the mountains. We drove through the Skoura one of largest Oasis and Rose Valley. We drove into beautiful Dades Gorge via the Thousand Kasbahs route. We had a great panoramic view of Monkey Fingers Valley. Tonight our hotel is in Dades Gorge "La Gazelle". Our dinner, rooms and breakfast are included as part of our tour. We had two different kinds of tagines (traditional meal cooked in a ceramic covered pot) chicken and lamb.

September 26, 2017

We had a 5 hr. train ride from Rabat to Marrakech and are staying in the Riad Rose Meryam near the Medina- Old Town. A riad is like a Bed and Breakfast. A family will rent out rooms in their home. This particular Riad was the original family home but now only one family member stays the night and the other spaces are rented out. The mother cooks the meals and the brother and sister run the business. They both speak English very well and have been very helpful providing us with information. We took a walk into the Medina visiting the main plaza and souks. It was very busy and colorful. The snake charmers were annoying. Otherwise we had an enjoyable time. We enjoyed our dinner served on the rooftop terrace at our Riad. Tomorrow we leave on a 3 day tour with Camel Trekking including a night in the Sahara desert in a tent. Then we'll return to Marrakech for two more nights at another Riad.

September 24, 2017

We had a nice day in Rabat, Morocco. On the train from Sale to Rabat I met a young woman and started asking questions about how to find the Marrakesh train and the souk. Imane is a lawyer and took us under her wing. She called her younger sister to come meet us and show us around the Medina (Old Town). She explained that her family has hosted university students in their home during their exchange studies in Morocco. While we waited for her sister, Imane walked us to the Kasbah and an overlook of the beach and entrance we came through to the harbor last night. Kawtar, Imane's younger sister arrived and took us to the Old Town and then we invited her to have dinner with us. We ordered a variety of Moroccan dishes and shared them around the table. Kawtar also walked us back to the Tram to send us safely back to the marina. Lovely people, lovely day and they would take no money for our private tour of Rabat.

September 22, 2017

We arrived safely in Rabat, Morocco tonight about 1930. It took a bit longer than expected as we could only motor at 5.5 kts. We had a beautiful day leaving Lagos about 9:00 yesterday We put out a couple of lines and actually caught a MahiMahi that Steve cleaned. Unfortunately the bigger one got away with our lure.

We rocked and rolled most of the day yesterday but it really picked up during the night. Too little wind and really mixed up seas. Fortunately the seas improved this morning and we all took turns getting some sleep during the day. Our big excitement today was when 3 or 4 pilot whales swam by the boat. The pilot boat came out to meet us in Rabat and guided us up the river over the sandbar to the customs dock. It took an hour to fill out the necessary forms with two customs agents aboard. We were glad to reach the marina and kick back, have a beer and a bite to eat. Now Off for a quiet nights sleep.

September 21, 2017

We had a nice visit in Lagos. This was our 3rd time here . Connie and Steve took a boat tour of the caves outside the harbor yesterday. The caves remind us of the caves on Devil's Island in the Apostle Islands on Lake Superior. You can drive deep into them in a small boat and come out in a different one. Al and I did it back in 2006 so we relaxed aboard Artemis.

We are departing for Rabat, Morocco this morning 203 nm. We don't expect much winds but it's necessary to arrive at the river entrance to the harbor approaching High Tide with less than a 2m swell. Rabat is up a river with a sandbar and silting at the entrance so under the wrong conditions you cannot enter the harbor. The only alternative is to sail on another 36nm to . We anticipate a 1600 arrival time on Saturday.

September 20, 2017

We woke up in dense fog yesterday in our anchorage. We couldn't see shore so we decided to wait for it to lift before heading to Lagos. We did a walking tour of Lagos Portugal today. We just had to check out the market along the river. Connie bought a new hat, Sally a beach coverup, Steve shopped for his medicine cream and purchased it way cheaper than he could USA. Al shopped for beer and held the table for a relaxing beer.

September 18, 2017

After all that wind in Sines we took off today after our two day car rental with no wind. We motored 60 nm and are in an anchorage off Cape Vincent. Enseada de Belixe. Al's grilling shish-kabobs steak, shrimp, mushrooms, peppers and onions. Lagos is just a short distance away so we'll head there tomorrow morning.

September 17, 2017

We had a great day in the UNESCO city of Evora, Portugal. It's a lovely walled city with all cobbled streets and walkways. We went to mass at the Cathedral and then toured the site. We went up the tower to the roof, visited treasury museum and the cloister. We wandered the town and had a great/interesting lunch before heading back to Artemis in Sines. We plan to sail to Lagos Portugal tomorrow.

September 16, 2017

Great road trip today in Portugal. We visited Alcobaca Monastery, Batalha Monastery, and Fatima. We are in the Unesco city of Evora tonight. We had nice traditional pork and asparagus / pork and clams meal tonight. Planning to sightsee tomorrow

September 15, 2017

We had a great lunch at local fisherman restaurant here in Sines. Starter of Octopus salad, Squid salad, olives and bread. Then Grilled Sea bream, Squid, and sea bass green salad and boiled potato for our entree. It was hard to top that meal but then the dessert Lemon Mousse and Chocolate Mousse were both amazing. We are renting a car tomorrow to visit some places in Portugal.

September 14, 2017

We had a good passage from Sesimbra yesterday. We enjoyed a nice sail but then motor sail arriving about 2:00. Today we had a nice walk about Old Town Sines then walked the board walk along the sea. We found our Fish Restaurant for tomorrows lunch behind the fish port. We've decided to stay in Sines for a few days. The weather will be sunny but very windy 35 kts+ for the next two days. Our next port is around Cabo de Vincent to Lagos and we want a bit less wind when rounding that cape.

September 12, 2017

We had a good passage down the river from Lisbon to Sesimbra, Portugal. We didn't have much wind so mostly motored. Today we We had a nice lunch at Lobo do Mar where we bought our fish by the kilo to be prepared for us. We chose a sea bass for four. They grilled them and served salad, boiled potato, and some sort of bread stuffing, Garlic olives and bread. Nice cold carafe of white wine. Then we walk into Sesimbra town center and walked the beach. We plan to sail to Sines, Portugal tomorrow.