16 October 2013

From Fez to Granada by rail replacement service

This was the day that everything went wrong.

The point of going on a Great Rail Journey holiday is to go by rail but the organisers screwed up and scheduled our return trip for a national holiday (Eid-al-Adha) when most/all trains were cancelled. This meant a lot of scurrying around to find a replacement coach to get us to Tangier.

Not only was the ride to Tangier uncomfortable it also meant that we were stuck on main roads with nothing much to look at.

The only "highlights" of the long ride were the two comfort stops at service stations where I was able to get coffee and chocolate. I was also able to stretch my legs a little (something that is easy to do on a train) and walk around their little gardens.

It also transpired that our boat had been cancelled and we were moved to a later one, not that we were told that until long after the decision was made. This gave us even more time to kill so we went through some suburbs of Tangier approaching the post from east. This was interesting but I would much rather have done the journey by train as planned and expected.

We left Tangier the way that we arrived there though that was not without incident either.

Having toured through the outskirts of Tangier on our way to the port we were then rushed on to the boat and only just got on in time and had to trust that our bags were there too (one cart load was mislaid between coach and boat).

The boat trip was the best part of the day but it only lasted half an hour.

I managed to secure a seat and to relax with a coffee and a beer and also to make a few trips to the observation/smoking deck to take pictures of water.

I did not notice the shape of this cloud at the time as I was more interested in disappearing shoreline. If you take enough photos then you are going to get some lucky ones like this.

Back in Spain we had another coach, this time from Tarifa to Granada, a journey of around four hours.

The one plus is that I got on the coach quickly and was able to claim one of the seats upstairs at the front. That gave me the best view on the ride, the problem was that there was nothing to look at except motorway for most of the time.

A large number of hills were covered with wind turbines and there were several different designs. I picked this picture because of the pylon structure which I had not seen before,  the supports are normally solid white pillars.

We did also get a brief glimpse of Gibraltar but it was not that interesting when seen at distance through glass when moving.

As with the Africa leg, the one point of interest was the rest stop at a service station.

I did not buy anything but I did enjoy the views of the town below making the most of the last of the day's sun.

The last leg of the journey took us through bull fighting territory and several towns marked this with large statues on prominent hills. These all looked the same to me and may well have been identical.

It was gone 7pm when we finally arrived at Granada, some 12 hours after we first boarded a coach in Fez. Even then the mishaps were not over as our coach was not allowed to stop outside of the hotel and we had to wait quite a while for a space to become available in the parking area at the end of the road.

All ambition had been drained from me by then and for my evening meal I went to a pizza restaurant next to the hotel for, er, a pizza and a beer.

It had not been a good day but we had all made it to Granada safely and in good enough condition to get back on with the exploration the next day.

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