Saturday, 30 March 2013

Good Friday a good day for expanding our limits, East to Fuengirola - Spain

March 27- 29, 2013

 Estepona is a great little town that we really enjoyed last October so having a couple of days here again was no hardship. We gave the boats’s decks a huge clean to remove the grime build up accumulated from a winter in Gibraltar and a week in the boat yard. True to form as soon as we had everything looking spick and span topside it pored with rain. Over our stay the showers tended to be a little annoying. We’re ready for summer so want the sunshine – Now! Greedy aren’t we.




We've really enjoyed both our stays in Estepona and its excellent marina.

Four different sets of grib weather files plus the local forecast were consulted to produce a consensus that for our 30 nautical mile hop from Estepona to Fuengirola on Good Friday the weather gods would give us a nice 10 to 15 knot following breeze to start with maybe stepping up to 15 to 20 during the day before dropping out late in the afternoon as we approached our destination.  Yeah right!

 
We were all up before our alarms keen to get underway. We’d planned to leave at 9.00AM but by Eight we’d all had breakfast and were sitting around looking at each other. Rob went ashore on a speculative trip to try to find somewhere open for some fresh bread for lunches and returned with a good news and bad news story. The good news, still hot, very fresh baguettes in hand. The bad news, the marina office wasn’t going to open until 10.00am because of the holiday. Do we hang around for another hour and quarter to get our 10 Euro deposit on facilities access cards back or get underway. After Karen and Marc had dragged themselves out of bed very reluctantly in the first place, neither were ever going to vote for wasting their supreme sacrifice so we donated the money to the Marina and threw the ropes off.

 
Once outside the breakwaters we elected to fly the asymmetric spinnaker on its own to give it full reign without the mainsail blanketing it in the 12 knot breeze and were quickly getting along at a handy 7-8 knots. As the wind strengthened a little as predicted, the sevens disappeared off the gauge with steady eights and nines quite often popping up. Fast boat speed and almost on the direct lay line. How good was this?

 
After seeing 9.3 knots of boat speed we had visions of a new record high speed for Alcheringa but as the wind continued to build, we decided discretion was the better part of valour and doused the kite quick as the wind reached 20 knots. We really didn’t want to risk blowing our favourite sail to bits.

 
Then stepped in Ley de Murphy which a sailing friend assures us is the Spanish translation for Murphy’s Law. In the few minutes it took us to drop and stow the spinnaker and unfurl the genoa, the wind died to well under 10 knots and swung to directly astern. After unsuccessfully  trying to find an acceptable point of sail that would keep the headsail full and provide forward momentum we furled it back away and resorted to the engine.

 
True to form, within thirty minutes the wind started to come back, and back, and back. In fact, in the time it took us to set ourselves up to raise the mainsail the breeze picked up enough that we went with a reduced sail area at the first reef straight up along with a reefed headsail. Within another thirty minutes we reduced sail further to our second reef point as the wind gauge showed a steady 30 to 35 knots and gusts approaching 40. With the instruments now indicating consistent boat speed of better than eight knots we were again rocking along and very impressed with how the boat handled the unexpected conditions.
video

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After a couple of hours of fast downwind sailing, surfing down waves and steering a slalom course through endless fish trap buoys,  we rounded the point of Punta Calaburras and the land blanked out some of the wind and all of the sea state so we enjoyed sheltered waters approaching Fuengirola. The breeze fell to under 15 knots and we were now sailing in dead flat water. We could have put more sail up and maintained our pace but elected to enjoy an effortless four knot cruise for the last couple of miles to the harbour.  It was a very pleasant wind down after the fun of surfing down waves in near forty knots.

 




The Spanish coast is rife with fish trsps marked by buoys like this creating a slalom course for us zig zag through and keeping us on our toes.

Make no mistake, we are cruisers not racers and would never intentionally choose to sail in 40 knots of wind, but, having been there and done that today, we couldn’t help but feel a huge boost of confidence in both Alacheringa’s and our ability to handle heavier weather if and when required.


We did a bit of zig zagging in the westerly wind. You can see where we came about to raise the mainsail
34.02 nautical miles - max speed 9.3 knots - average 6.1 knots
 
There is a small but nice looking marina and Fuengirola but on entering through the breakwaters we found a wide and very well protected beach within beckoning us to anchor out. We dropped the pick in three metres of water and hooked in very solidly to the sand bottom which proved to be a good thing seeing the wind picked back up to 20 knots soon after we poured the celebratory G & T’s to mark another successful day on the water. Any yachty friends who find themselves in this part of the world can be assured Fuengirola is an excellent anchorage in anything other than an Easterly wind.

 




Alcheringa. anchored in the well protected waters off the beach ar Fuengirola

 
Tomorrow morning we’ll go ashore and find out what the town has in store for us.

 


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Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Afloat again and off to Estepona - Spain

March 24-26, 2013

  Hurry up and wait! Well we enjoyed a relaxing weekend in Ceuta staying in a reasonably nice hostel as our home, Alcheringa,  was still all blocked up sitting on the concrete in the Med Gate Shipyard in Ceuta awaiting a few things to be finished off on Monday. We had hoped to be underway on Saturday but Rob wasn’t too unhappy to be staying on shore as he was able to catch live television coverage of the Malaysian Grand F1 Prix and even overcame the problem of Spanish commentary by finding a live streaming English commentary on the computer. So the TV was on with the sound off and the laptop providing the audio all be it a few seconds behind the action but who cares. It proved to be a very exciting race but with a particularly unsatisfying conclusion for any fans of Australian driver Mark Webber.  Such is life.


We didn't mind staying a little longer in Ceuta and discovering more of the town's amazing hand painted ceramic billboards like this one.
We wandered down town on Sunday night to find some dinner and discovered Ceuta coming alive with thousands of people packing into the city centre for one of a series of parades to celebrate Easter. All over Spain Easter is commemorated as the holiest of festivals with a week or more of parades and other events and we’re hoping to witness a few more of these in the coming days.

We hadn't expected to run across this Easter parade in Ceuta so Rob's camera was back in
the hostel room and the photos are as good as we could do with an i-phone at night.
 
 
 
After easing Alcheringa back in the water late on Monday looking all very smart with her new paint, we made sure all was in readiness to put to sea next morning and then it was tapas time. We’d discovered a small bar in the residential area above the shipyard that had been packed with locals for lunch so decided it looked ideal for our last meal in Ceuta and to celebrate really getting underway for the summer. De Buena Cepa exceeded our wildest expectations with fantastic, friendly service and simply the most incredible food you could imagine. Salted cod done to perfection, flavour filled mushroom fettuccini, pork medallions in a rich cream sauce that melted in your mouth,  a beef in filo pasty tapas that was similar to a mini Beef Wellington but infused with Latin spices that truly set it apart. These were washed down with two bottles of excellent Spanish red followed by coffee and complimentary liqueurs all for 20 Euros each. ($24 Aus). How come we always find these places on our last night in a town?


With Alcheringa looking her absolute best Marc was a pretty proud owner as the boat was lifted back into the water for our next adventures.
Surprisingly all three of us were up on time next morning  and we cast off as planned at 9.00AM to take advantage of wind and tide for our passage to Estepona on the Spanish Coast. We raised the mainsail inside the harbour and turned the engine off as we sailed out through the breakwaters into the Straits of Gibraltar heading almost due north across the shipping lanes with a 10 to 15 knot westerly pushing us along nicely.
Sunshine or not, it was a fantastic sailing day in the Mediterranean on Alcheringa
Within half an hour the breeze strengthened to 15 to 20 knots as we got away from the coast and it pretty much stayed that way all day giving us excellent sailing conditions. Alcheringa’s newly painted and obviously slippery backside further boosted performance and we found ourselves zooming along at better than 8 knots much of the time and hit a new record high of 9.4 at one stage. Yee-Haa!

What better place to test out our new AIS screen than the busy Straits of Gibraltar.
We were doing 7 knots in 12.5 knots of wind here which isn't too bad at all.
The straits were even busier than when we’d crossed from Gibraltar to Ceuta but now we had our new AIS system installed which took a lot of the guess work out of how close a tanker/container ship/high speed ferry/cruise liner would come to running us over. Not only could we see their course, speed and closest point of approach (CPA) all detailed on our little readout, we also appeared on their screens for the first time. The AIS made it easy to see a change of course by 15 degrees at one stage would allow us to safely pass behind a huge roll on – roll off ship that on current course and speed would have come within metres of us. We also experienced an incredible and probably very rare event when a large ship, still four miles away bound for Gibraltar, called us up by name on the radio to let us know that as we were under sail they would reduce speed so we could safely pass in front of them. Who’d have believed it?  We’re loving our AIS already.


After crossing South from Gib to Ceuta 12 days ago we traversed the Straits again up to Estepona on the Spanish coast.
Today was really one of the best day’s sailing we’ve had on Alcheringa. Although it was overcast much of the time it was only a bit cold for a while in the middle of the straits and once we neared the Spanish coast we enjoyed a fantastic downwind run that saw us cover over 37 nautical miles in a little under six hours to average better than six knots. Best of all, the engine was turned off as we cleared the harbour in Ceuta and wasn’t restarted until we dropped the sails just outside the marina at Estepona. Now that’s the way we like it.


This is the Google Earth view of our current location in the marina at Estepona that our Spot Tracker provides. You can see and zoom in on our latest position as a map or satellite view whenever you click the Spot Tracker link on the right.

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Saturday, 23 March 2013

Chefchaouen – A whole other world in Morocco

March 19-22, 2013
 
 We were presented with the perfect opportunity to slip over the border for a taste of Morocco while Alcheringa was  lifted out of the water at Medgate Shipyard in Ceuta for a coat of new anti-foul and a few other jobs.
Our taste of Morocco convinced us we want MORE!
 A few people at home were surprised we weren’t going to do the hull cleaning and new anti-foul paint ourselves but the reality is the DYI option can be false economy. First we’d have to hire a high pressure water blaster, then we’d need to buy the anti-foul paint, masking tapes, paint rollers and trays, protective over-alls and eye protection, all at retail prices. Then we’d actually have to do the work having absolutely no previous experience in the field. Labour charges here in Spain are very modest by Australian standards and quite frankly, it worked out no more expensive to have the experienced shipyard staff do the job rather than we playing blind leading the blind wondering whether everything was done correctly.

The bonus of course was that instead of spending the week coated in grime and toxic paint, we got to escape on an exotic adventure into the mountains of Morocco so it was hardly a difficult decision to make. 
Getting this little tub blocked up and tucked away in Med-Gate's
shed put our lift out back a day but such is life.
Alcheringa looked tiny in the slings after the big motor vessel of the day before

We were due to be lifted out on Monday but after needing to put things off a day to finish blocking up a very lage boat they were lifting into their even larger boatshed, the shipyard manager, Christian, and his staff could not have been more helpful. After our boat was hoisted out on their huge travel-lift more accustomed to huge super yachts than our 43 footer, we got all the paperwork completed and then asked if they could call us a taxi to take us to the border crossing. Instead, Christian provided one of his staff to not only drive us to the frontier, but also though it and the bureaucratic maze that can regularly take inexperienced travellers two hours or more to navigate. He then drove us to a town ten minutes into Morocco where they’d arranged a reliable, English speaking driver, Omar, to meet us and take us the rest of the way in his typically well aged Mercedes taxi.
Omar's luxurious Mercedes chariot got us up into the mountains without fuss. Note the quality, after-market interior door handles.

On the recommendation of Jayatma, who Karen and I had sailed with in 2012 on Moksha, we were heading to the town of Chefchaouen situated high in the Rif Mountains a little over two hours’ drive from the border at Ceuta. The city was founded in 1471 as a small fortress to fight the Portuguese invasions of northern Morocco. The fortress still exists to this day.  Along with the Ghomara tribes of the region, many Moriscos and Jews settled here after the Spanish drove Moors out of the Iberian peninsula in medieval times.  In 1920, the Spanish seized Chefchaouen to form part of Spanish Morocco. Unlike Ceuta, Spain returned the city after the independence of Morocco in 1956. The town was reputed to be particularly well preserved within the walls of the Medina and complete with a medieval Kasbah so it sounded a particularly interesting place for us to get a taste of Morocco.
This Moroccan palm tree is actually a mobile telephone service tower.
We wish Australian Telcos were as sensistive with the visual polution they erect.

Omar proved a typical cab driver and talked much of the way down the coast and up into the mountains. Initially we travelled on an excellent dual carriage way lined with gardens and extremely ornate lighting. Omar pointed out what looked like a massive tourist resort by the beach and explained that the current King of Morocco liked jet-skiing and this was in fact his summer palace where he, his extended family and entourage spend four months each summer playing in the Mediterranean.  Apparently the standard of roads in the region has improved dramatically since the King took a liking to the area.
 
Old Mercedes taxis as far as the eye could see - this is Morocco

Once we left the coast and began climbing into the interior the roads did change but were still far better than what we had envisioned. We did have to stop at a Police post in a transit centre surrounded by literally hundreds of old Mercedes taxis as Omar was required to obtain a permit to travel further than 50 kilometres from his base in Tetuen. After an otherwise uneventful drive, he deposited us outside the main gate into the Medina at Chefchaouen and then headed back on the two hour return journey and all for the princely sum of 500 Moroccan Dirhams ($56 Aus).

In full accord with Murphy’s Law, the heavens opened up with a torrential downpour as we gathered our backpacks up and made our way towards the Medina. Passing through the ancient stone gateway of the town walls was literally like entering a whole new world. We sloshed our way down narrow laneways teeming with people, mostly in traditional dress, scurrying in all directions heading for shelter. Through good old reliable www.hostelbookers.com we had booked two rooms in the Riad Baraka inside the Medina. We’d carefully studied the directions to the hostel and Marc was ably leading the way but proved unable to shake a keen local lad who was insisting on showing us to the door. Of course when he arrived he hit the British owner up for a fee for bringing him three new customers but as we were pre-booked it was ‘No dice Abdul. On ya bike’.
Our room at Riad Baraka in Chefchaouen. It was the best hostel we've stayed in.

Riad Baraka is run by Londoners, Joe and his mum Anne and while listed as a hostel could far more accurately be described as a boutique hotel. The décor was extremely attractive and completely fitting with its surrounds. The friendly welcome provided to us by Joe and Anne during our three night visit was more akin to being family friends staying in their home.  We enjoyed a great breakfast every morning during which they were very forthcoming with their local knowledge as we planned our day’s activities. The roof terrace was a favourite of ours each afternoon providing great views over the old town and up to the mountains. Best of all though, it also featured a fridge full of beers and wines complete with honour book to write down what you drank. We need to point out that alcohol is simply not available in Chefcaouen so our roof top oasis was highly valued. At a 140 Dirhams ($15.60 Aus) per person per night for a private room with ensuite it was hard to beat so Riad Baraka gets five stars and comes highly recommended by us.
We loved the roof terrace, and its well stocked fridge, at Riad Baraka in Chefchaouen

While booze may be unavailable in the town what isn’t hard to find is whacky weed. The mountains of the Chefchaouen region are one of the main producers of cannabis in Morocco. While drugs are actually illegal, Hashish is sold all over town and, particularly at night, it’s difficult to walk far through the laneways without the aroma of burning weed or hash wafting your way.
The blue lanes and alleyways of Chefchaouen are amazing to wander around
Click on any image to see larger versions of the photos


Karen was intrigued to actually find a public phone. No such thing in Aus anymore

The name Chefchaouen refers to the shape of the mountain tops above the town, that look like the two horns (chaoua) of a goat. The most distinctive feature of Chefchaouen is its blue-rinsed houses and buildings which made this a truly magical place for us to spend many hours wandering around. While all the usual tourist fare is available, traders in the Medina offer many native handicrafts that are not available elsewhere in Morocco. The traditional, hand woven wool garments and blankets in particular are of extremely good quality and outrageously cheap.. The goat cheese native to the area is also very popular.  
Marc about to be offered 'very special morning price just for you' in Chefchaouen

We had to constantly remind ourselves we live on a boat and don’t need stuff. However it was incredibly hard to resist a queen size, hand-spun, hand-woven wool throw for our bunk at under $25 Australian but we already have all the covers we ‘need’ so it stayed on the shelf. While we congratulated ourselves on our self control at the time, we fully expect to regret the decision sometime down the track. After gorging ourselves in Chefchaouen’s outstanding Moroccan restaurants, a very ornate targine bowl and serving dishes did prove irresistible though and has now found a home on Alcheringa. After all it’s to be used to prepare crew meals so can be classed as a need not a want. That’s how we rationalised things anyway.
This shop is now missing a very nice tagine bowl that found its way onto Alcheringa
The Kasbah at Chefchaouen is impressive day and night


 
The food was definitely one of the highlights of our visit as tried different places each lunch and dinner working our way through a range of chicken, lamb and Rob’s favourite, meatball and egg tagines, incredible brochettes (kebabs) and a chicken specialty called pastella we had at an outstanding restaurant called Darcomm on our final evening.  We may need a week of salads back on board the boat to recover although we did do a lot of walking to work some of our excesses off.
Meatballs and egg tagine - mmmmmmm!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The Darcomm had amazing food and great atmosphere but we still struggled
accompanying our meal with a fine vintage of water.

The weather on Thursday dawned clear with bright sunshine and following the showers of the previous days, the morning air was crystal clear so we headed into the hills for a nice hike.  We made our way up through the maze of the Medina’s picturesque laneways,  through one of the gates of the town’s defensive walls and past the falls cascading down the high cliffs bringing a constant supply of pure mountain water to Chefchaouen.

video
Apologies to people viewing the blog on Apple devices as you may not be able to see videos

We then began climbing a track into the mountains above the town and soon came across local children keen to show us their skills with a spinning top and have us join in a game of ‘kick it to me’ with a soccer ball. Further up the trail we passed by local goatherds tending their charges feeding on the slopes as has been done here for centuries. The mobile phone at the ear was a dead giveaway that this was indeed modern Morocco but it didn’t destroy the romance of the moment totally.
Outside the walls and time to head UP!


And UP!




We stopped at a small mosque standing all by itself on one of the ridges and sat enjoying the views down over the multitude of blues hues of Chefchaouen below us and the emerald greens of the valley stretching away to the north and south. It really was breath taking. Marc made a new friend as one of the local lads began chatting away to him before inviting us on what would have no doubt been a unique tourist excursion.  As informative as it obviously would have been we politely declined his offer of a tour of a friend’s kief factory to see how hashish is produced from cannabis plants. We did ponder later whether it would be like visiting a winery and being offered tastings of the various offerings produced.
This young local was offering Marc a unique tour we just had to politely refuse
Marc working up an appetite on our mountain hike

While dope is offered for sale on almost every corner and there are the usual touts selling everything from gold jewellery to traditional hats encouraging you to ‘visit my shop for very special cheap prices just for you’ all were good natured and quite accepting of a polite refusal. Nowhere did we find anyone in Chefchaouen to be overly pushy, except maybe for the guy who turned out to be the security guard on the gate of the local Islamic school. He got a little antsy when Karen mistook the stone gateway for an entrance to the Medina and pushed past him waving off his efforts to stop her. He definitely didn’t find it as funny as Marc and Rob did behind her.

We absolutely loved our time in this still unspoiled piece of Morocco. In fact when we heard from the shipyard that the boat wouldn’t be ready to go back in the water until the Monday we were very keen to stay longer but unfortunately Joe and Anne couldn’t provide rooms for us so it was time to call Omar and climb back into the ancient Merc for our drive back to Ceuta and the western world. We will definitely return to Morocco though and look forward to spending time along its Atlantic Coast when we finally leave the Mediterranean after a couple of more summers.
Walking across the Ceuta - Morocco border is like a scene from Children of Men
This post contains but a small sampling of the many images of Chefchaouen that Rob captured on our visit. Many more can be found on our facebook page. facebook Dreamtime Sail Morocco Photo Album



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If you have only recently discovered our blog and would like to read how it all started, or work through our previous adventures, click the link to go back to our first blog entry. Stuff it. Let's just go sailing anyway. 
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Thursday, 21 March 2013

Delayed in the boatyard - Who'd have guessed

March 21 – 2013


Well we were supposed to be going back in the water tomorrow (Friday) but the boatyard have informed us they're running behind and of course they don't work Saturdays. It will now be Monday, hopefully, that Alcheringa will be eased back into the wet stuff with pretty new antifouling covering her bum, her hull polished all shiny, a new AIS system installed and even her recalcitrant, seized through hull valve replaced.
 
Alcheringa looks like a bathtub toy suspended under the huge travel lift at Ceuta more
accustomed to lifting giant mega-yachts out of the water
 

In the meantime we've enjoyed a three day trip across the border in Morocco which has been awesome. We're heading back to Ceuta tomorrow and, with a bit of luck, will find time over the weekend to post a full chapter about our visit to beautiful Chefchaouen high up in the mountains. It has been awesome.


We'll update you about our awesome side-trip into Morocco soon

We’re chomping at the bit to start working our way east along the Spanish Coast and really get our 2013 cruising adventures underway. The next two days will be a bit frustrating sitting in a hostel room across the road from the harbour looking at our yacht locked up in the boatyard with nothing happening on it but such is life.

We love to receive comments on our blog from readers. If you do leave a comment and you also have a blog, please leave a link as well. We'd like to click over for a visit and leave you a comment too.
To stay right up to date with what we’re up to  and see lots more photos check out and 'like' our Dreamtime Sail Facebook page at Dreamtime Sail
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If you have only recently discovered our blog and would like to read how it all started, or work through our previous adventures, click the link to go back to our first blog entry. Stuff it. Let's just go sailing anyway. 
We hope you enjoy reading the previous posts to catch up on our story.
 

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Ceuta – A little piece of Spain in North Africa

17 March 2013

 I think I have mentioned before, the most important thing to remember about cruising plans is that they are just plans, not a must follow to the minute schedule for strict adherence with no flexibility. I raise this again because our plans have changed again.
We arrived here in Ceuta on the North African coast on Thursday planning to stay until Monday morning before heading east. We had intended on lifting Alcheringa out of the water week after next in Almerimar on the Spanish coast for a hull wash, new coat of anti-fouling and to replace a seized seacock valve we haven’t been able to free up. Unfortunately the marina there informed us yesterday that they would not be able to do the work until after Easter.  However, we have discovered a very well equipped boat yard right here in Ceuta and after a chat with the British manager we have decided to get the work done where we are.
Karen using one of the beautiful hand painted ceramics that are plentiful in Ceuta to point out our current location.
 
As a result we will now be spending an extra week in North Africa which we don’t expect to be too hard to take. The boat will now come out of the water on Monday morning and, all going well, we will disappear over the border for a couple of days in Morocco on Tuesday while the work is being done. Definitely sounds like a better idea than sitting around Almerimar while the boat’s out of the water anyway.
We spent Friday getting all this arranged, cleaning the boat down after our crossing from Gibraltar and discovering what’s where close by the marina. We dropped into a fishing store and discovered the fish around here must be extremely dangerous going by the range of automatic weapons on display freely available for sale.

 
Of course we also needed to establish just which establishment in the vicinity looked good enough to warrant our business and discovered our most conveniently located ‘local’ yet in the form of ‘Café Madame Pots’ approximately 15 metres from the stern of the boat. Great friendly atmosphere, excellent coffee and a very nice bar with very cheap prices, what more could we ask for.
Nothing like great coffee for just One Euro only metres from the boat
On Saturday we ventured a little further into Ceuta to explore its charms. Ceuta is a small peninsula of just 7.1 square miles (18.5k) whose strategic position on the southern shores of the Straits of Gibraltar  has made it an important commercial trade and military way-point for many cultures, beginning with the Carthaginians in the 5th century BC. It was not until the Romans took control of the region in AD 42 that the port city assumed an almost exclusive military purpose. It changed hands again approximately 400 years later, when Vandal tribes ousted the Romans and has been fought over by the Byzantines, Moors, Portuguese and Spanish ever since.
Click on any image to see larger versions
Ceuta with mountains of Morocco in the background
 
In July 1936, General Francisco Franco took command of the Spanish Army of Africa and rebelled against the Spanish republican government; his military uprising led to the Spanish Civil War. The troops were transported to mainland Spain in an airlift using transport aircraft supplied by Germany and Italy. Ceuta was one of the first casualties of the uprising. The citizens of Ceuta were repressed by the rebel nationalist forces led by General Franco, while at the same time the city came under fire from the air and sea forces of the republican government. Sometimes you just can’t win.
When Spain recognized the independence of Spanish Morocco in 1956, Ceuta was considered an integral part of the Spanish state remained under Spanish rule, but Morocco has disputed this point.
The government of Morocco has repeatedly called for Spain to transfer the sovereignty of Ceuta drawing comparisons with Spain's territorial claim to Gibraltar. Both the national government and local population of around 75,000 reject these claims by a large majority and of course the Spanish government insists it's a totally different case to that of Gibraltar.  We can't really see the difference but they can.
Ceuta’s architecture is an eclectic mix of styles but combine to make this a very attractive small city. It is well laid out with a number of attractive squares and the harbour front had been developed with extensive parkland and promenades. There’s the usual cathedral and churches but there are also a number of mosques as a significant proportion of the population are Islamic descendents of Berber heritage. Much of the historic fortifications still stand and the ‘Royal Walls’ with their navigable moat reaching right across the peninsula are particularly impressive and quite interesting to wander around. We discovered a military chapel within the thick walls which had been converted to a beautiful café/bar and decided it was a great spot for afternoon communion. Well we had the wine part of it anyway.
This moat stretches right across the peninsla's narrowest point opening to the Mediterranean on both sides and would have been all but inpenetrable.
A chapel that becomes a bar, what could be better place for a nice wine
Now that's a big pot.
 
A quick trip to the supermarket saw us top up our food and drink supplies with enough for three main evening meals plus half a dozen bottles of wine and a couple of bottles of ridiculously cheap spirits producing a complete bill of 29 Euro ($37 Aus). Yep it’s good to be away from Gibraltar prices again.
After a fantastic meal of Corsican Chicken that Karen whipped up back on the boat, we headed back onto the streets later that evening  for Rob to get some after dark photos of the city and to join with the masses of people out and about. Teenagers were socialising in the squares and promenading along the waterfront, while the cafes, bars and restaurants all seemed to be very well patronised. The streets were also full of children happily running around as their parents  enjoyed a stroll in the city. It’s such a different atmosphere to anything we’ve experienced at home in Australia.
While Gibraltar is unquestionably the northern, Ceuta is believed by many to be
the southern pillar of Hercules and the city obviously backs that claim.
We found Ceuta to be an extremely friendly, clean, attractive city.
 
Hercules Marina at night. Alcheringa is second mast from the far end.
 On Sunday we decided to combine some sightseeing with exercise and set off to walk around the coastline of the Peninsula but unfortunately the weather didn’t cooperate. Rain showers that hit when we were about a third of the way around saw us take a short cut back through some residential areas and the city centre where we stopped for a nice lunch before heading back to the marina. Oh well the intentions were honourable at least.
The House of Dragons is a building known for its Moor influenced arches, Spanish balconies, and the infamous dragon statues on top of the roof.
 
 
Impressive architecture at every turn makes an evening stroll in Ceuta a delight.
 

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