About Me

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Charlie: I am a Customer Loyalty Advisor for Virgin Media. My greatest passion is traveling as it gives an unique opportunity to meet amazing people, admire great sights and generally feel most alive and happy :) Ada: I am a fulltime student at Edinburgh Napier University studying Tourism and Marketing Management as traveling is my passion. Meeting interesting people, exploring their cultures and customs, visting gorgeous places around the world is soooo exciting, isn't it? :) Another passion that we both share is photography (I only take some shots but she's the one that actually publishes any... )

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Let the AUCTION begin!!!!

Finally we did... After  many techical problems we put stuff for sale on the EBAY:)
Those things are listed below... Hope you will like some of them and you will be willing to buy something to support girl from The Eve Branson Foundation:)









Monday, 22 March 2010

All items you can see on this photo have been brought back by us from our epic Journey and will soon be available for you to bid for in an online auction. It has taken us over 8000 miles, 1 month and a lot of stress to bring them here for you - just see our post from 20th January ;)

All are quite unique as each and every one of those items is hand made, also all that we will raise in that auction will go to the Eve Branson Foundaton.

Our auction was supposed to start already a few days ago - unfortunately we are still having some technical issues getting everything set up correctly with Ebay... Please bear with us - we will keep you posted!
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Monday, 22 February 2010

Way home

This was the worst moment in our journey - we wanted go further but having our time limited we had to turn back. We had only about a week’s time to get back, and that would be a week spent almost entirely in the car. We drove the same way from Western Sahara to Agadir, but from Agadir we were coming back shorter way which is situated on the coast. Few kilometres from Agadir we saw something amazing –‘flying goats’ – a breeding of young goats, which were jumping from one tree to another trying to eat fresh leaves. We asked the goat owner if we could take some photos and we gave an old man one bottle of tropical juice in exchange – they are a livelihood for him so even a photo should somehow be paid for.

Our way from Agadir to Safi was quite interesting as it was small road with many nice views. After Safi we were crossing the biggest cities of Morocco such as Casablanca and Rabat which were mostly industrial. We were driving to Tanger that time as we wanted to check which border cross is better for next time. In our opinion Tanger is much better as there are less queues, people are nicer and everything is quicker. Even a ferry was much cheaper and way through Gibraltar Strait was shorter. Actually the connection Tanger – Tarifa (harbour town in Spain) is more comfortable.

Before we reached to Tanger we broke our GPS – You can imagine how much we were angry – Because of this incident we were lost many time in crowded Tanger;(. Finally we managed and we found proper way.

When we arrived to Spain we decided to “jump” for a moment to Gibraltar.

The weather was awful as it was raining, but the whole city seemed to be nice. Unfortunately we were stuck on the border because of long queue created by many cars from different countries. Gibraltar was our last stop. From that place we were driving straight to home. That was a really great adventure. We only wished to have more time to see more, but we still happy that we were able to see what we seen.


We finally reached a beginning of a peninsula where Dakhla is located. Of course, before we were allowed onto the peninsula we had to go through yet another control. We were very excited as views on the cape were just marvellous and again breathtaking. We had to stop every one mile as the beauty of that place had to be perpetuated on the photos. This small cape is so varied. In the middle there is sand and the main road, on the right side there is the Atlantic Ocean and its great waves and spots for surfers and on the left side a lovely, magic and beautiful lagoon...A really, really amazing place. It was really hard to imagine that it was actually January! In spite of the fact that the place was brilliant we saw something very sad.

While we were driving toward Dakhla City we noticed a lot of very young dogs in the desert near big blue bag. We stopped and got off... That was one of the saddest thing we have ever seen.Seventeen dogs were abandoned, left in the desert some still were in the bag with no water or food, just left in the middle of nowhere. Two mums and fifteen small puppies were just dumped. Some puppies couldn’t walk and one hasn’t even opened his eyes yet. Those dogs were squealing, but dog’s mums allowed us to come closer. We gave them some water and some food. We didn’t have much - only some spread cheeses as our food reserves were nearly finished. We took some photos of those sweet animals and Charlie turned back with camera to police controlers and told policemen about what had we found. Officers understood him, but also said that they didn’t have influence on that and the strongest puppies would survive as anyway they are desert dogs. We were so sorry for those dogs... There were too many to put them into car. We still feel really bad that we actually couldn’t do much more for them. We really hope that someone took care of them. We had to drive on.

When we finally arrived to Dakhla we had mixed feelings – we were happy that we made it to where we challenged ourselves to get, but also we knew that from this point on we had to turn back. The city itself had a specific African feel to it. It’s a place lost in time and space – a place forgotten by most and only visited when passing by, visited by outsiders only when heading further into Africa as this place is their last stop before crossing the Mauretania border... We found the place interesting because of this legacy as it had two sides to it – one is the outside looks which has to be called rough , and the other which is nice and friendly people not affected by the rat race or fight for the $. We found ourselves a roadside grill bar and we ate again Charlie’s favourite keftas, that time they were made from camels:/

Next day we decided to spend easy just enjoying Dakhla’s atmosphere. We spent some time in one of the surfers’ spot admiring great big waves and lying on the beach. Oh those waves where so huge...even they could form almost perfect tunnel. The afternoon we spend on the other side of the cape - Lagoon..ooohh yes please... That was a great place for walking, swimming and just resting. We noticed some really big jellyfishes..Half dead of course...We noticed on the lagoon some tyres prints and later we saw a car, which was driving through this paradise... Unfortunately, those people were unlucky and they got stuck in the middle of the lagoon, while the hide tide was coming. As we were informed later unfortunately that car was covered by water... nobody could pull it out in time.

Dakhla seems to be forgotten place, many people would just omit this city, because of its location – end of the cape, end of the world. However, if you’re travelling by car in Morocco you really should visit city as it is worth it.

Our Photo Album: http://picasaweb.google.com/106661203325099532399/10Dakhla#

Way to Western Sahara

In the morning we went for a walk again as the beach from Lagzira to Sidi Ifni is just amazing.

In the afternoon we started our trip to Western Sahara. It is regarded by Morocco as an integral part of its territory, by most of the outside world it is a disputed territory and remains under UN supervision. Travelling overland gives a remarkable insight into how different this land really is from Morocco - it's nothing alike with its arid landscapes, desert highways and unprecedented military presence for a country at peace. The whole landscape started to change. Firstly we were driving through field of cactuses. After the cactus fields there were some last views on Anti Atlas, however once we passed small city Tan – Tan all mountains or hills just disappeared and as far as human eye could see there was only sand and stones in all directions. That was typical view of sandy nothing and that was just amazing and so beautiful.

 Soon we caught up with the Atlantic we had our typical Western-Saharn balance of cliffs and Atlantic on the right hand side with just Sahara desert on the left. We were driving for miles towards our destination, Dakhla, covering ever greater distances between populated areas, the landscape was becoming more and more arid, less and less bends meant it was easy to speed if you didn’t watch the speedo closely enough – a few moments were enough to get from the legal 60mph to 90mph without even noticing. The evident danger of that started becoming more apparent with the numerous collision marks littering the road. At least Charlie was kept happy – smiling each time when he saw price of diesel @ around £0.3 per litre... .

We passed Tarfaya with its Casa del Mar – house in the sea built by Scottish trader Donald Mackenzie and accident-crippled Armas ferry which is still is stuck in the sea having run aground just off the coast, Laayounne, the capitol city of Western Sahara; and Boujdour. Between those cities where most population lives we noticed many living in homes made from scraps of everything an anything (wood, papers, and scarves). It seems that this is a large portion of the original inhabitants of this region – Saharawis. We had some surprises on our way as well. We stopped were many times by the police/military at checkpoints that were situated on every major road into any city. They were always very thorough asking questions of the destination and cause of visit, writing all the details down. Sometimes the control was short, sometimes long. Sometimes policemen were nice, asking politely about cadoaux (fr. gifts such as whisky, vodka...and porn), sometimes there were annoyed. We met nice people from Gambia, who were very helpful and translated some stuff from French to English to one policeman. Many time wild camels slowly passed through main road...And we saw also some spectacular sunsets.

Towards Atlantic Coast - Ada’s Birthday

Next day we set off driving towards Atlantic Coast. We were driving close to High Atlas Mountain and Anti Atlas Mountains.

We had to stop few times as views were really breathtaking. In the very evening we arrived to Agadir, however we didn’t enjoy the city very much. It looked as typical European city without any African exotic patterns; even women were worn in European style. In the morning we started exploring the Atlantic coast.  We arrived to famous Lagzira Beach – where people are able to see the steep and differently formed cliffs on the beach. That was amazing view... Waves crashing into high totally red rocks, showing off the power of the Atlantic Ocean. After a long walk on the beach we drove to small city called Sidi Ifni, where we finally found a great, cheap camp site, with HOT water (and not just an unfulfilled promise of it as it usually happen) and nice staff (The SolyMar – the best place for camping ever). Although Sidi Ifni is a relatively small town it has a few great and interesting features. First of all it has many relicts of colonialism still visible – with the hospital building and a few villas starting and on huge monuments and a massive disused airfield around which the town is shaped now ending. Also it has a great fresh produce market – you can buy quite fresh seafood, get a coffee or a traditional crepe for absolute pennies, and a great restaurant (1 and I’m pretty sure the only one). This was where we went this evening to celebrate Ada’s birthday which actually was the day before – after having problems finding any accommodation nobody was in mood to celebrate, but as it turns out that was a good thing as it allowed us to feast on some great food including banana split the next day to make up for the previous evening.

Ada's birthday dinner:)

Let’s bivouac on the Desert

We had not been enough of sand of Sahara so we decided to go toward small village M’hamid. When we arrived M’hamid the asphalt road was finished. As were waiting for adventure we took off road. Actually when we were driving through sand, rocks and gravel; people in 4x4 cars or on camels were staring at us strangely. We were stopped by locals and they advised us to not go further as the road is difficult for a regular car – it’s a 4x4 land. Some nice people invited us for a cup of tea. After tea we decide to go a little further, to see dunes. Well it was not really a great decision as after one kilometre we got stuck in sand when making a u-turn to gat back. We were so angry and upset. After 5 minutes trying to get out from desert without any results we got help from local boys.

We were trying to move our car in 6 or 7 people and still there were no results. We were passed by many 4x4 cars but almost no one stopped to help us. Tourists were taking photos us and our car in the sand. Finaly one guy stopped and he said: “Oh ok, I can pull you out my friend, you give me some money...” Charlie asked: “How much” and the guy said: “Just 400 dirhams (40 Euro) “. Right... a whole day escapade to the desert with camel and 4x4 normally costs less than 40 Euro per person and that guy offered us the same price for pulling the car in for 2 minutes?!?!?! We politely refused... We still had a problem but two older guys came and finally after few hours we pulled our car out. We wanted to thank those guys for help giving them some money and go but they offered us for a good price for a 1 night stay in a tent including dinner and traditional singing in the evening. We were so tired and those boys were so great and nice, therefore we stayed. In the late afternoon we decided to not give up and simply walk to the nearest dunes for the sunset. Those dunes were not as spectacular as in Erg Chebbi but it was a very nice walk. After admiring the sunset we turned around to head back to the main camp when dusk finally came and... Oh no.. Where did our camp vanish??? Perspective of spending nigh under naked sky on the desert without any sleeping bad or blanket wouldn’t have been nice. We were walking and walking and there was no lights no electricity no evidence of life. We were really scared, but we had a torch with us and roughly knew what way to go and finally someone noticed us and they were flashing from time to time. Unfortunately it wasn’t our camp but those guys led us towards our bivouac and in few minutes we were saved by “our” boys for the second time that day. Before we managed to have a dinner it was that late due to our episode of getting lost in the desert that we could already admire the stars...Oh that was the greatest star lit sky we have ever seen. We quickly ate and boys as they promised would play instruments and sing for us and finally made that a very nice evening.

Please watch our movie, where you can listen to traditional singing of desert people:


Our photo album: http://picasaweb.google.com/106661203325099532399/7MHamidABivaqInTheDesertAfterThePavedRoadRunOut#


When we planned this trip we really wanted to spend New Year in the desert. Actually we made that dream come true. We spent New Year Eve on Erg Chebbi, where sand has taken the amazing orange colour. We were walking a couple of hours on the warm dunes and we were waiting for a first proper and spectacular sunset on a desert. Oh yeah that was amazing!!! You can see photos – something difficult to describe. We celebrated beginning of 2010 on a camping with great people (owners Maria – Spanish girl and her Moroccan husband) We got fed well – with a mix of Spanish and Moroccan cuisine. We also drank red wine and Maria husband told us about tradition of Marocco country. For example he explained us that name “Morocco” means a “dry sea” and said that under the dunes people can dig to water. Also it seems that although morocco is a Muslim country the rules governing the alcohol consumption are not that strict at all – in fact you can buy wine in supermarkets what sounds fairly liberal.

Next day we went to Erg Chebbi again. Those dunes made impressive on us, we really wanted to walk there again. This time we decided to climb the highest dune available by foot. Walking up the dunes was really exhausting and difficult during a day. It was like one step forward and two back. When we reached one of the highest dunes, we had to rest and eat something. We also stole some orange sand with us. We met few scarabs, which left funny pattern like a truck on a sand.

When we were coming back from Erg Chebbi by off road we broke accidently our car suspension. We had to stop and have a look what happened. We were so stressed, but we got help from local people. One old who by chance asked if we needed any assistance, helped us mend it using a rock and small piece of wire. A typical Sharan fix – but it worked!!! We were really happy and we went to another famous spot of Sahara – a place close to Zagora.         

Exploring Ourzazate and Dades Gorge

Finally with a half-empty car we crossed the highest asphalt pass in Morocco, where tops of mountains are so close and there is an impression that you can reach them by hand, but unfortunately we missed the great views as we travelled by night. We found a campsite in Ouarzazate and next day we were exploring the sprawling Taourirt kasbash, which was built on prime commercial real-estate. The entrance fee was about 20 dirham per person, however we still don’t know why we were let in for free (probably our poor backpacker outfit helped). The Kasbash was really great; you could feel exactly like Prince of Persia, who was looking for his Princess – so many closes, hidden corridors. Next thing we did was not really planned. Local boy offered us his time and showing us around the Old town. It was nice experience, to hear something interesting about Berber people life and their daily duties from local person. We also visited the local “Bakery” with huge clay ovens where women bake the tasty traditional bread.

We couldn’t miss exploring Atlas Mountains at all, so we decided to visit Dades Gorge. Many guides say that after 15 km people should turn around and head back as you have seen all there was interesting to see, but please DON’T DO THAT!!! Just after those 15 km the views are reallllyy amazing. First attraction in Dades Gorge are views on small settlements built from intensively red clay. Second one a small pass, which looks like a snail from top. Third attraction is great, huge, colourful canyon which looks like Colorado in The USA. Most people do not know about it as they turn back after “a snail”. The asphalt road finishes a few km later, around 30km from the main road, in small village called Msemrir, where we decided to stay for the night. There was actually no choice where stay as camping in the car was impossible because of really cold air. We stayed in a small bar-hotel dubbed El-Ouarda. Ada was only one girl there again Local men were eating, watching TV, chatting and two tables were joined as some of them playing cards. Those nice men noticed we were travellers and bought Charlie a drink (no, not alcohol drink just a Hawaii Tropicana sparkling juice) Charlie was positively shocked and nevertheless guys didn’t speak any English, he joined them playing cards. This situation confirmed that language barrier can be overcome. The owner of the bar-hotel didn’t understand us as well, but he prepared a great tajine and delicious tea and even offered his own garage for our car.

Asni, High Atlas and the Eve Branson Foundation

Next morning we had to get up quite early as we were to meet with Zoubair at 8 am to be in Foundation’s ‘headquarters’ in the Kasbah Tamadot at 9. Kasbah Tamadot is one of Richard Branson’s private retreats, we were invited there to speak with the Manager – Mr Kenton. He explained us how the hotel not only is Foundation’s base but also how it worked to support the local community via its own channels and via the Eve Branson Foundation. One of the amazing fact is that this £1k-a-night resort 95% of staff are local people were recruited from nearby villages, thought new skills and languages and given them many opportunities to provide for themselves and their families. After the meeting we were treated to a delicious lunch. We had an opportunity to talk with people working in Kasbah (their English is pretty well actually) and got known about their lives and also they explained us how Kasbah and the Eve Branson Foundation influenced positively on their communities and improved them. The main of the Eve Branson Foundation workshops is on the opposite side of the valley from the hotel. This is where most young girls are being taught their ways in the weaving, embroidery etc. What they produce is later sold from the hotel based Virgin Unite shop. We were a bit unlucky having arrived to Kasbah on a Monday, which is a day off for girls from the Foundation. Zoubair recommended to visit lovely a small village called Imlil. The village is located on a hill of the High Atlas Mountains; Views from there are actually amazing. We were invited for a dinner by a very nice man to his house. Firstly we had drunk nice tea with views on highest peaks of the Atlas Mountains and then we ate great dinner with a really nice couple of South Koreans, who speak Arabic quite fluently.

Next morning we were invited to a function organised for Kasbah Tamadot’s guests who trekked through the valley to meet the girls. First we went to the Cashmere goat’s enclosure to see the goats who contribute their fur to fulfil girl’s goals and who were brought here by Eve from Britain. Afterwards we caught up with the Kasbah group in the workshop for a lesson of tea-making and education on Eve Branson Foundation hosted by a group of girls who are taking direct part in the project – through that involvement the Foundation and Kasbah are trying to open the eyes of tourist on the problems of this land where life not only is hard work in the field, washing yourself in freezing water but even most basic needs like access to fresh water or clothes. There is also another problem a big part of Moroccan population is facing – people coming from tribal background, like in being Berber in case of those girls, have difficulties with learning due to having to speak fluently at least 3-4 languages which is especially hard to achieve for young people.

After the function we were invited to stay to meet the girls and to divide physical support that we brought with us between the girls for themselves or their families and the local orphanage. All of them were absolutely delighted to meet us and to see that somebody actually went an extra mile for them and out of gratitude they treated us with a few really beautiful songs. Having met girls that learn how to make all those beautiful things, as promised we went to the Virgin Unite shop and purchased different things made by them, from cushion covers to a carpet to be brought back by us and to be auctioned off after we get back. £150 for that was raised by my colleagues in my call centre in Glenrothes and all profit will go back to the EBF (Eve Branson Foundation).
Our photo album: http://picasaweb.google.com/106661203325099532399/4AtTheEveBransonFoundationSiteKasbahTamadotImlil#
Please watch our movies connected with the Eve Branson Foundation.

Making traditional Moroccan tea

Lost in Marrakesh

At the beginning our plan was to avoid cities such as Marrakesh due to noisy, crowded and touristy character of big towns, but it was great spot to stop for a while as The Eve Branson Foundation project sites are located just 40 km from Marrakesh.

Wooow...have you ever been to the Sunday Market in Edinburgh? The souks (market) in Marrakesh are like that one but 200 times bigger and people there have maaannnyyy things to sell. Huge diversity of products: delicious fresh squished orange juice, great food, many souvenirs (scarves, bags, jewellery, lamps, music instruments, key rings even weapons) Again it’s bamboo covered streets are a maze difficult to navigate – it’s really easy to get lost there. Marrakesh’s Medina is just huge and there is always something happening on its main square the Dja el Fna – from acrobatic shows to the snake charmers. What in daytime is just a busy square is absolutely bustling with life in the night – suddenly after the dusk the whole square gets filled with footstalls. Charlie really enjoyed traditional keftas (a food which is made by grinding meat and mixing it with an assortment of spices), which are being prepared for you from fresh meat as you watch. Marrakesh is a very chaotic place, but it is a very beautiful city as well. In the evening as we were starving, we decided to go to Medina for a late dinner. Finding a nice place where food was being served was not a difficult task. The famous square had changed its function from being a market/entertainment centre into a huge restaurant. A lot of people were inviting us for food by trying to guess where we were from and speaking in our native language. The whole Medina Marrakesh’s square looked like a big Place of Fun, people were even fishing... for cans of coke.

Our photo album: