Well, I'm back in Melbourne and, blissfully, back at my laptop with all it's keys in the right place and no arabic letters anywhere! It's strange....in the past, it's always been a bit surreal to come back home but this time it's felt like a natural extension of the trip. Not sure why....maybe travellings just becoming a bit more second nature now.
Our time in Morocco wound up in typical hot and cold fashion. We spent two unexciting days in Fez. The most medieval city in Morocco, it's a strange mix of old and new and not an entirely successful one. We felt a bit alienated there; after the friendliness of Marrakech, many of the people we met were downright rude and seemed to resent the presence of foreigners. This was the first time we'd encountered this attiture in Morocco and it was a bit sad. That said, it was a fun city to explore and we met some fun fellow travellers who we introduced to the wonders of hammam! We moved on to Meknes, a smaller but much more enjoyable city. We explored a beautiful roman ruin from the year dot; the city of Volubilis was the Roman Empire's most far-flung outpost and it's incredibly well preserved. We wandered around the virtually-deserted site, inhabited only by storks (whoever decided storks should be the cute bearers-of-newborns was off their tree...storks are seriously freaky birds!) After a morning of this, we wandered the souks and had a great dinner in a palace before spending a couple of quite-cold hours waiting for a night train back to Marrakech. One more day/night was spent in Marrakech, doing last minute shopping, before we headed back to Essaouira for the world-famous Gnaoua Music Festival. The festival celebrates the folk music of Morocco and has many world-music artists on the bill as well. Despite the crazy wind that was blowing a gale and making it difficult to enjoy the bands, we had a good dance and made some new friends who we then took for a beer before we had to get on a night bus to Casablanca.
It was a whirlwind day but soon enough it wound to a close, and we were on a bus to Casa for our flight to Madrid.
Our day in transit was well worth forgetting but then we were in Madrid where we indulged in the pleasure of an english-language film and some yummy tapas in the city centre. It was so nice to be able to show Pip the sights I'd discovered when there 6 weeks before and we spent a beautiful day exploring the city, kicking back in the Retiro gardens and eating tapas in the Plaza. Sadly, Pip was ripped off by a gypsy who managed to make off with a not-insignificant sum in euros. Pip was pretty shaken and I was devestated to have to leave her in the city be herself as I made my way to London via Lisbon. But she kept her head and managed to enjoy the next few days in Madrid before heading to Barcelona to meet up with friends. Our month in Morocco was probably the most time Pip and I had ever spent together, just the two of us, and it was a pretty amazing time. In hindsight, I'm very grateful Mum decided to bankroll her expedition as I wouldn't have enjoyed the trip nearly as much without her.
I spent an uneventful night in Lisbon before making my way to London for three action filled days in London. Sadly, the combination of Wimbledon and Glastonbury had ensured that the weather was completely crap so I spent a lot of time on the tube getting from place to place as opposed to my usual method of wandering the streets until I find what I'm looking for. But it was a great feast of films, theatre and galleries (my usual travelling triumvirate), interspersed with numerous hours trolling the bookshops on Charing Cross Road for new finds. I actually battled a man with tourettes for a short story collection in one second hand bookstore, and gladly came away the victor. I had drinks with my ridiculously cool aunt Ali in a members-only bar in Soho; Ali is a sought-after costumier who works mostly in film and high fashion so she had lots of fantastic gossip to spill. I was equally glad to see Ali and the volumes of gin available (missed gin enormously whilst holed up in Morocco!)
After three rainy days, it was time to venture back to Heathrow for that interminable flight to Melbourne and my trip back to reality.
So here I am, in Melbourne weather that, bizarrely, resembles London's summer weather. Here's hoping this blog provided a bit of entertainment for those of you who've been following my stories...I've put a few photos up and will add some more soon. Lots of catching up to be done so will see most of you soon in person.....