unfortunately, getting from casablanca to our next destinations wasn’t exactly an easy thing. there aren’t any cheap flights out of morocco, so we searched for flights from spain… but there aren’t even any cheap flights direct from spain, so we had to go via london using 2 different cheap airlines. in the end, my final plan was this: 6 hour train from casablanca to tangier, 45 minute ferry from tangier to tarifa (spain), 15 minute bus from tarifa to algeciras (spain), 30 minute bus from algeciras to gibraltar (in spain, but owned by UK), 2 hour flight from gibraltar to london, and then finally a 2.5 hour flight from london to budapest. quite a mess, eh??
the train to tangier was pretty uneventful, and once there we were able to plow through all the touts etc without much difficulty. it was a bit confusing trying to get a ferry ticket, since there is no central office and each of the separate ferry companies tells you their own version of when the ferries leave (in order to get you to buy from them instead of the competitors). we were able to get one of the highspeed ferries which is good since caryn gets seasick and she was hoping to spend as little time aboard the ferry as possible!
after arriving in algeciras and checking into our hotel, we went out excited that we might get some great spanish food. i ordered some “rice w/ 3 delicacies” and caryn got “cuban styled rice”. the waiter came back to let us know that it would take extra time to make caryn’s dish. nice!! that must mean that hers will be extra special right? well, when he brought it out, it turned out to be just plain rice w/ some ragu-esque spaghetti sauce dumped on it! it’s funny how getting food in other countries can be so hit or miss. so many times we’ve gotten food that was absolutely nothing like what we thought we were gonna get!
the following day we got up and spent the last remaining euros we had to take a bus to gibraltar. it actually ended up being quite confusing trying to figure out how to get on this bus and even the people living here were a bit confused as to where to catch it. the bus ride was fun since caryn made a friend of this highschool girl and they talked about life back home vs life in algeciras. eventually, we finally made it to gibraltar, or “the rock” as it is known.
oh yeah, before we got on the bus, when we were walking down the street, we heard all this crazy yelling… a real commotion. we peaked around the corner and there was this hella pissed of guy waving a tire iron, whicle three people tried to hold him back from this other yelling group. it was totally crazy! at this point, the other mob starts storming off, and the tire iron guy jumps in his car, and punches the accelerator trying to run them over… but the people hopped on the sidewalk just in time.. after which tire iron man jumps out of the car w/ the tire iron again, and all hell breaks lose… everyone’s yelling, women are screaming practically crying… it was seriously insane. as we walked off, it seemed like everything settled down though, and i think no one got hurt.
anyways, back to gibraltar. gibraltar is kind of this weird anomaly town. it’s techincally part of the UK, but it is on the south coast of spain. they use pounds… but not british pounds, gibraltar pounds (which arent always accepted in the uk we later found out). the town itself is tiny, so tiny in fact, that it’s only runway for the airport actually crosses it’s major street!! the street actually has the typical railroad crossing bars and lights to not let traffic pass, but instead of a train going past, it’s planes! it was really weird to walk around town and feel like all of a sudden we were back in england again. all the signs etc were all in english, but the people in town were probably like half spanish and half british.
most of gibraltar is taken up by the rock, this huge mountain that is filled w/ caves used by the british military for top secret stuff. there’s all sorts of cool stuff on top of the rock like a nature preserve, tail-less monkeys, and other non-top secret caves. although we had very little time before our flight, caryn and i went to the top of the mountain in this scary cable car. dude, there were so many monkeys up there! they kinda have free reign up there and we hung out for a while watching them chase each other, do flips, and other cool stuff. the monkeys would even hitch rides on passing cars by jumping on the roof and riding for a while before jumping off later.
we were within a minute of missing the last cable car down the mountain, but luckily we made it just in time, and then took our fligh to london. unfotunately though, instead of flying into london’s main airport, we flew into Luton, this small suburb of london. we tried to call a few cheap hotels only to find out that all of them were booked. finally, we found a bed and breakfast, and took a cab there. the cab drove several miles to get to this place and dropped us off in the middle of residential nowheresville. we got out and started ringing the doorbell to the b&b… and no one answered. we continued ringing the bell for a long long time… still no answer. the owner must have fallen asleep.
at this point, we realized we were pretty screwed. we were in the middle of nowhere, it was almost 1am in the morning, we had no place to stay, there were no taxis (or any cars) around as far as we could see, there was no phone in sight, we had no map, and basically we had no way of getting out of the predicament we were in. crap! oh yeah, did i mention that it was cold and sprinking as well? perfect! so we just started walking… and walking.. and walking. luckily, eventually we found a street that was somewhat major and actually had some cars on it, found a cab, and had the cab take us to the red lion inn.
well, things were a bit crazy at the red lion. the red lion is also the location of the most popular bar in luton, and it ws a saturday night. at first, the guy at the door didnt want to let me insince i was wearing sandals, but finally he made an exception since i was planning to stay at the hotel. once inside, i walked up to the reception desk that was covered w/a heap of beer bottles and tried to get helped. basically, after a whole bunch of crap, and paying (90 bucks!!) , we finally got a room. i would probably have been down to go check out the bar, but unfortunately i needed to wake up at 6:15 and it ws already 2am.
after two whole continuous days of travel, we finally made it… well, we didnt make it to our final destinations yet, but we made it to london at least.