Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Morsels from Morocco

Oh dear. It has been almost six months since I returned from Morocco, and only now am I ready to put my photos from the trip on-line. "Well" done, Bjørn!

If you look through all the photos, I can pretty much guarantee that you'll discover lots of stuff you didn't know can be seen right on the doorstep to Europe. And it's all there, right now. You can just get on a cheap flight from anywhere in Europe to Agadir or Marrakesh and do it all on your own. There's no need to book anything ahead, and there's nothing in particular to worry about.

All you have to do is get off the plane and find your way to the nearest bus terminal. There you'll buy a ticket to Tafraoute, Tinerhir or Merzouga, depending on whether you prefer mountains, canyons or deserts. The buses are comfortable and the drivers and passengers agreeable. In all these three places it's easy to find somewhere to stay, something to eat and something strange to see.

I can't say I recommend the main cities of Morocco, however. They've got Kentucky Fried Chicken, but apart from that they hold little of interest to me.

The cities are all mainly about noise, hassle and a dirty mess wherever you go. And they're full of old mosques you can't enter unless you're a Muslim, and of crazy men on motorbikes driving through the narrow streets as if they were on their way from Paris to Dakar. And the shops! Oh, the shops... They're full of stuff at what may or may not be reasonable prices, but one thing is for sure; when upon returning home you pull out of your backpack something you acquired in Morocco, you will seriously start wondering what on Earth you were thinking when you bought it.

There's much I could say about Morocco, and much of that I have put in the captions I have provided for the photos. Maybe I'll add a few stories from my trip here later.

For now, though, my main message is that I can easily recommend Morocco to almost anyone. Knowing some French is an advantage, but not at all a requirement. Good thigh muscles is a plus, but most places these days you'll find toilets you can actually sit on.

There is no reason to book a guided tour to anything in Morocco. As long as you keep smiling, and as long as you can do that without getting dangerously drunk first, you'll have an excellent time in Morocco, where everything will just sort itself out.

Happy trails!


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Something Tu valu!

Hah! I received a mysterious package in the mail. From Australia, with a fairly significant customs duty to pay. I had not ordered anything from Australia, but I just had to pay up and find out what this was. It could be a marsupial. I've always wanted my own wombat. Unfortunately, the package contained no such thing. On the contrary, it was something to put in a pouch. Please welcome the new one dollar coin of Tuvalu, as seen from its royal side:
On the back it looks like this:
And this is where I enter the picture. When I was in Tasmania a couple of years ago, I took this photograph:
Behind the beautiful Dove Lake you see Cradle Mountain. I visited here when I hike The Overland Track, a super 100 kilometer trail that took me more or less from the north to the south of Tasmania. You still can't see the connection between me and the coin, you say? Well, take a look at this:
Do you see? My photo is on a Tuvalu monetary item! For reasons I shall never understand, the designer of this coin must have felt pretty sure that I would sooner or later discover that they have borrowed the peak of a mountain from one of 1700 photos I took while in Tasmania. Let me just be clear about this: I just took the photo. I did not build the mountain first. Oh well. Funny stuff. Despite the customs payable, it was really nice of the antipodeans to send me a silver coin as payment for my part of the job of bringing this coin to the world. It may sound like a small pay, but let me remind you of the mess that was unleashed upon the world for the price of just 30 silver coins! Which is just 29 silver coins more than I have now received. I'm quite pleased. And soon my Morocco photos are done. I promise!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Trophies from Troms

Summer is long gone, especially in Northern Norway. It lives on only as memories and photographs. In July I spent ten days discovering a new national park and an old island society. Rohkunborri and Senja. That's right. Even in Norway there are places where even just their names make you want to go and see them for yourself.
The first part of the journey I did with my father. He wanted to revisit a number of mountains he last saw up-close fifty years ago, and he needed someone to go with him. "Someone" turned out to be me, and we accomplished everything we planned on. We made it to the top of Stor-Ala, we hiked the Sørdalen canyon all the way to Sweden and back, and we stood on the top of Istinden. I don't know if it was better in any way fifty years ago, but looking at my photos from this year's trip, I doubt it.
While my father stayed in his childhood town and showed off his blisters and bruises, I went by myself to the island of Senja, a mountainous place surrounded by the ice-cold Arctic sea. Although it's close to a statistic impossibility, I got two days in a row reaching more than 30 degrees Celsius there. It was so beautiful that I almost didn't let myself sleep. Day and night I explored the island, enchanted by the local nature. Crazy tooth-like mountain peaks, intensely green hillsides, porpoises playing in the sea, eagles just sitting around, smiling fishermen and locals that clearly were not used to tropical temperatures, dressing in military boots and underwear to go to the beach.
I couldn't get enough of it. I will have to go back and continue my trip eventually. Senja is just as mesmerizing as the more famous Lofoten islands, but it gets dramatically fewer tourists. Do give it a try if you ever get the chance. Bring a tent, so that you can sleep wherever you like and whenever you need it. It's quite easy to get there. Just fly to Tromsø or Bardufoss (cheap flights from Oslo), rent a car and get going!
All right. Done with Troms. Who's next? Oh, hi there, Morocco! (I'll be back shortly with more.)