Chany's Trip in 2013 - Morocco, Spain, & Portugal

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In 2013, I took two trips. The first trip was in June, going to Berlin, Edinburgh, St Andrews (to golf), and London. The second trip was in November, going to Morrocco for a two week trek, and driving around Spain and Portugal for a week.

Here are trinkets representing the destinations of my trips. From left to right: Phone Booth (London, England), Cock of Barcelos (Portugal), Edinburgh Castle (Edinburgh, Scotland), Tajine (Morocco), Matador (Spain), Tee Bag (St. Andrews Old Course), and a piece of the Berlin Wall (Berlin, Germany). These can be found on my desk at work.

Chany's Trip To Morocco, Spain, and Portugal (2013 November)

In November, I went for a trek through the Jebel Sahro region of Morocco. This mountainous region is located between the Atlas Mountains and the Western Sahara Desert. Here is a map of the trek route.
The trek began in the village of N'Kob, known as "the village of 45 kasbahs". N'Kob is located south east of Marrakesh, approximately 340 km by road. Here's a view of some of the many kasbahs in this village.
Trekking through the Tadout'n Tablah plateau. This region was very scenic with interesting rock formations. For scenery, this was the best trekking day.
The Bab n'Ali (Ali's Gate). These are an impressive, huge pair of rock monoliths that loom over the Tadout'n Tablah plateau. A spectacular sight to see (photos do not do it justice).
Mules were used to carry our supplies through the Jebel Sahro. It was impressive seeing how much stuff the mules carried, up and down the mountains.
Much of the Jebel Sahro area was a desert, and the region was currently in the middle of a 3 year drought. Almost all riverbeds we encountered were dry. However, once in a while, we would run into a village with irrigated farmland, with the greenery providing a sharp contrast to the predominately brown of the surrounding landscape
Remnants of a French fort, from the days of colonization. As with any fort, it was located on the high ground on a ridge.
Our camp near the base of Bou Gafer. We stayed in tents, and all our food and supplies were carried by mules. We went with no showers for 10 days, and had to use the "bush toilet" when nature called. It was actually quite interesting to be away from civilization; one appreciates the amenities we have at home.
On one of the peaks of Bou Gafer, our guide Hassan and I pose for a picture. Awesome views of the area from here.
View from one of the peaks of Bou Gafer, with some of my fellow trekkers in the foreground. The elevation here is approximately 2000 meters.
Starting out early for our ascent of Amalou n'Mansour, I was able to catch this photo of the morning sunlight shining on it, with the moon in the background.
At the top of Amalou n'Mansour; the elevation was approximately 2700 meters, which is the highest peak in the Jebel Sahro area. Breathtaking views of the valley below and the Atlas Mountains in the distance were the rewards to be found at the top of the mountain. Yes, it was cold! From here, we descended down to the village of Ikniouen, where our trek ended. All in all, an excellent trek with great food.
After the Jebel Sahro trek, we popped over to visit Spain (since we were in the neighbourhood). Here I am near the town of Algeciras (Spain) with the Rock of Gibraltar (Britain) in the background. Gibraltar is a British Overseas Territory, which is a major point of contention in Anglo-Spanish relations as Spain claims sovereignty to the territory to this day.
Because we were in the neighbourhood, we drove over to Lisbon, Portugal. Because we spoke absolutely no Portuguese, it was a little tough but we survived. Here's a picture of me posing with the Grade sculptures (by Jorge Vieira) in Municipal Square, Lisbon.
Puerta del Sol (Gate of the Sun), Madrid, is considered the center point of Madrid and is "kilometer 0" for the Spanish road network. It is a pedestrian only plaza and acts as a meeting place for people.
I was hoping that this would be a nice, warm vacation, and it did start out that way. The first half of the trek in Morocco was warm, but cold weather moved in for the second half of the trek and it got cold. The cold weather stayed with us through Portugal and Spain; in fact, it snowed on one of the nights in Madrid. Here's our rental car with some fresh snow on it (2013 Nov 28)!

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