A Travellerspoint blog

Boiling hot in Marrakech

sunny 42 °C

We are in Marrakesh in Morocco. We came here with Uncle Andrew and Auntie Lizzie.

When we got here three days ago we imidiately felt the heat. It is hotter than Asia. We took a taxi out into the city and saw that there were no buildings taller than a palm tree the only building taller than a palm tree were the mosques. Our hotel is very nice we have a plunge pool a roof top patio and our room has air conditioning. We are very close to the noisy street but we cant hear it. We are ten minutes walk from the market square witch is also known as the square of the dead because criminals heads were put on display there. The market square is very big and is fifty percent orange jiuce stalls. There is also lots of restoraunts, snake charmers and monkey trainers. The next day we met up with our friends from Edmonton and went to try some snails. The snails tasted like well muscle with gooey stuff in them. By the time we got back to the hotel it was ten.

The next day we went on a hike in the Atlas Mountains. It was so fun we had to cross tiny little home made plank bridges and scramble up rocks it ranks number one in all the hikes i have ever done. The next day we went to the tanneries and saw them washing goat camel sheep and cow skins in chemicles with their bare hands it must hurt it smelled so bad we had to have mint leaves in our faces at all times.

The next day we went to a water park with our friends Kioshi, Taro and Kaito. The water park had 4 slides witch we spent most of our time on. One was called the boa and was so fast you barely had time to take in a breath at the end before you hit the water. There was also a wave pool that ran for five minutes every half hour. The next day we had henna at one o clock with our freinds they were a bit late and me and Neve were already done by the time they got there. Everybody got non natural except me and Neve because when you got the natural your whole arm stung. The non natural henna was black and the natural was orange.

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Posted by Arin MacDyer 02:56 Archived in Morocco Tagged james Comments (3)

Bed, Bath, and Beyond.

overcast 15 °C

It is brilliant go have a sister (Simon's) who lives in Bath. According to a guidebook we saw if you can only go go one other city in England outside London it should be Bath. Its also great that we get to hang out with family and meet our niece and nephew for the first time. We got the insider information, pooled it with TripAdvisor lists, and set off to tick off the good, family-friendly items. Here is our list of the top things to when you are in Bath:

1) Tour the Roman Baths and hotspring. The only place in England that you can get warm without fire (is it any wonder the Romans created a temple here?). Finish off your visit with tea and scones, or maybe a Bath bun, at the Pumphouse restaurant.
2) Take the riverboat upstream to the pub, have a lovely meal, then walk home along the canals. Check out all the long canal boats and the ingenious system of locks.
3) Explore Victoria Park, especially the gianormous playground and the botanical gardens.
4) Hike the Skyline Trail and take in the views off all the distinctive Georgian architecture that Bath is famous for. Leave time for playing at the woodland play area and searching for fairy and elf houses in the trees.
5) Scooter the Two Tunnels trail and stop midway along the second tunnel to listen to the melody created from the music pods embedded in the walls. When you get to Midford, stop at the Hope and Anchor for a glass of local cider.
6) Try Jimmy Spice's buffet restaurant for lunch when kids eat free. Delicious fresh naan bread and gormet ice cream cones made to order. To work off your dinner play a game of giant connect-four in the shopping district.
7) The shopping is good too - every mainstream store you can think of and a huge number of charity shops done up like boutiques.
8) Cheddar Gorge is a really scenic gorge and cave (yes, they also make cheese here). But the best part was learning about the 8,000 year-old skeletons found in the cave - evidence of cannibalism and DNA that was traced to a descendant that still lived in the village!
9) We purchased a National Trust membership to reduce the cost of visiting many historic sites and stately homes. The first visit was to Lacock Abbey - a beautiful abbey converted to a family estate that was used for filming three of the Harry Potter films.
10) Stonehenge - iconic site with a brand new visitor centre. Probably would have enjoyed it more if we didn't have to worry about hypothermia.

There really are a lot of things to do in Bath and the surrounding countryside. Our hosts pulled out all the stops to make sure we had a good time. Daily adventures and some great evenings watching movies, catching up on Game of Thrones, and both Simon and James got up at 4:00 am to watch the Mayweather/Pacquiao boxing match with Andy. Neve got up everydat excited to play "house" - she was the mom, Joseph was the dad and Norah was the dog. It was a wonderful visit with friends and family.
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Posted by Arin MacDyer 07:35 Archived in England Comments (0)

Coming to England

sunny 24 °C

We were staying in La Fleche for two nights. And then we were going on the Eurostar train across the channel to england. The channel tunnel was 280 baguettes depth under sea level that is 120 meters below sea level. There is not one but three tunnels one in the middle for service and one for each way. When we got here at the station Grandma ,Granddad and Joseph, auntie Hannah, and Norah were waiting for us with a big welcome sign. After we had gotten back to my grand parents house. We were all very tired. So we only had one hours play. The next morning me and Neve were up at six o clock playing with all my dads old toys.

To our surprise granddad and grandma had bought us scooters so we rode around the block for half an hour. Then we went for a walk down to the sea wall. When we got there me and neve were eager to go crab catching we flipped over just about every rock that wasnt in the black mud. On our way yhere our dad pointed out all the old skeletons of viking ships. We also walked along side the shipping yard. We saw ships of all sizes and ages my favorite was an old fishing boat that was set on a platform a little ways out. The next day we went to the big park in molden we brought our scooters with us. Most of the trails were bumpy and my front wheel kept twisting round we went out to the memorial of the soldiers waiting for the incoming vikings. Then we scootered all the way down the muddy beach to an ice cream place there was a swan on a nest with six eggs there was also a water hen nest in the reeds with six babys crammed in it. We got an ice cream each and we bought some bird feed for the ducks and swan.

The next day we had a four hour drive down here in Bath where Joseph and Nora live. It is not as much a treasaur trove as grandma and granddads house. But it does have a lot more toys. Bath was named after the roman baths. It is the only hot spring in england. The roman baths to the romans was a place to relax and worship the goddess of war. The most freaky part about the baths is that after the romans got out of the baths they would go into a steam room to sweat off the dirt. Then they would go into another room and their slaves would cover them in wax and olive oil. And then scrape it off their bare bodies with a metal utensil. And guess how much you got paid if you were a slave? Nothing!

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Posted by Arin MacDyer 01:39 Archived in England Tagged james Comments (3)

To Spain and back again...

sunny 25 °C

We've been weaving back and forth between France and Spain along the Pyrenees. To cross the mountains we either drove over or under. One tunnel was over 5 km long and the snowy mountain passes were topped with ski hills (our first snow in a year!). The scenery was spectacular and we were glad that pretty much stumbled into this part of France.

Simon, as is his thrifty nature, found a camping discount card online that gave 50% off hundreds of European camp sites in the shoulder seasons. We stayed for 15€ to 25€ a night plus perks next to some amazing attractions. The campground in Barcelona provided a free bus into the city center, a shop to buy fresh baguette and a petting zoo. The campground in Ax Les Thermes was a short, pleasant walk along the river to yet another quaint town. It was set up for tourists with a gondola that went from the town up to an area of three ski hills. It is famous for its hotsprings but we couldn't go into the posh thermal baths because they didn't allow men to wear loose shorts, only tight speedos. I think its a weird french hygiene thing because we saw the notices posted at other swimming pools. In the village we had a rare meal out and resisted the temptation to have raclette, because not only was it expensive but so unhealthy, the cheese wedge they melted onto potatoes was the size of James' head! But we all had delicious three course meals and once again the wine was cheaper than water (1.50€ per glass). Campgrounds here are a legitimate tourist draw, many have waterparks and other fun activities. They are well-supported by the community, one had a bar that catered to campers (see below). We quite enjoyed camping except that doing schoolwork and eating were a bit tricky as most of the campgrounds expected you to bring your own picnic table. We got tired of sitting on the ground so for the last week we rented another bargain gite near the town of Oloron-Ste-Marie. We were deep in the country-side tucked up next to the mountains but still got fresh baguette delivered to us every morning :)

As we drove through both countries the evidence of warfare between the two was quite obvious - castles and lookout towers perched on each peak. We hiked up to one in France that was famous because it held up to a nine month siege (Montsegur, if you are curious). The hiking was really good in this region, lots of trails and we were able to drive right up to the alpine. On our hikes we saw an isard, european vultures, a super worm, and many hawks circling in their mating dance. Mqost of the other native wildlife we saw in zoos. We stopped at the Parc D'Ours thinking it was a bear sanctuary (this is one of only two places to find brown bears in europe) but it was a small zoo with four grizzly bears in a large enclosure and a collection of the native ungulates In enclosures you could stroll through. Nice, but we are nearing our threshold for visits to zoos.

That said, our final day in France was spent at Zoo La Fleche. Remember how we let James and Neve watch lots of french TV in order to practice their french? Well, their favourite show was a reality show filmed at Zoo La Fleche detailing the lives of the zoos animals and their keepers. We offered them EuroDisney but they both wanted to go and see the stars of the TV show. It was a great experience! Sealion, parrot and raptor shows combined with some unusual and exotic animals. Neve was thriled to get autgraphs from her favourite keepers. The next day we said a fond farewell to France and boarded the Eurostar in Paris, excited to be on our way to England.
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Posted by Arin MacDyer 11:46 Archived in Spain Tagged arin Comments (0)

Being a caveman

sunny 25 °C

When we first arrived at Niaux Cave nobody was there because they had just left on the 11 30 tour and we still had 2 hours before we went on the 1 30 english tour. So we thought it woud be a good idea to go and have our picnic lunch. At 1 30 when we got back and it was time to go and see the cave paintings. it was a long and spooky walk, in it was an active cave so everything was dripping and there was puddles everywhere i was the only one that didn't step in any. Our guide told us that the cave paintings were 14,000 years old. She also told us that the artists had to be very quick painters because the torches they used for light only lasted forty five minutes. But when we got to the black room the only part of our tour that had animal paintings we saw there were everywhere goats buffalo horses but no reindeer their prime food source. The main theory is that the animals that are in the caves are sacred.

After we went in the cave we drove down to a cool outdoor museam called Prehistoric Park. We went there because our guide recomended it to us and said we could throw spears. When we got there we went directly to the spear throwing i was a bit better than everyone because our chimney sweep in Nordegg taught me how. After that we went to do painting with the exact formula that the cavemen used. Next we went to the demonstration of how to make fire from scratch with no matches. First he put some powder made from those big mushrooms that grow on dead trees. Then he cracked flint and iron ore together he said you can not create fire with flint on flint because it produces white sparks that are not hot enough to make fire. Then the mushroom powder starts to smoke he told us that the mushroom powder was so extremely flamable that even one spark woud make it burn then he added pine needles and then made a nest of hay and then he stuck the fire in it and it lit.

After that he also demonstrated how to make fire by rubbing wood together. First he took a bow strung with fishing wire. Then he wrapped the wire around the stick placed the stick in a little nick that he had just made in the wood. And started to move the bow from side to side and the stick whirred round and round. Amd smoke came out of the nick. If you ever try to do this at home use a cherry wood stick and a conifer wood plank and dont forget to make the nick in the side of the plank.

The park also had stuffed cave lions, mammoths and bison.

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And finally, in the middle of the night here yesterday i was woken up by a giant bang and shake. Neve and i hid under our covers. In the morning e found out it was an earthquake!

Posted by Arin MacDyer 04:34 Archived in France Tagged james Comments (3)

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