Recent trip: North Africa, September 2009

Last week I worked on the Tahitian Princess. This was my route:

I had a really good time! The show lounge had the lowest ceiling I’ve ever had to perform under. I have a “low ceiling version” of my show, but I had to cut stuff even further! Also they wanted a second show of 20 minutes, and I’d specifically told my agent “If the ceiling is low, I can do a full 45 minute show, then just 15 more minutes.” But I managed to hit the 20 minute dead on by: A. playing version of my Juggling 2009 video which features me juggling in all the countries I’ve visited this year, and B. dropping the 7 ball run a few times.

Except for the low ceiling above the stages, I really enjoy spending time on smaller cruise ships, those about 600 to 800 passengers. I get to know all the cruise staff, cast members and musicians right away, and within two days I’ve seen all the passengers, and they all recognize me.

This gig was strange because I performed my first show on the day I joined the ship. Unlike Ivan Pecel and Jonathan Root, I really LOVE the passengers telling me how much they enjoyed my show, and pretty much my entire second show is based on people asking me to juggle random objects! Bring it on, I say.

Places visited:

I didn’t see much of Cadiz, because I had to prepare for my show and couldn’t leave the ship. I’ll be returning later in the year though, so can explore then.

See all the photos at the album.

Next stop: Spain hates that Britain owns a bit of land sticking out into the Straits of Gibraltar, joined onto Spain. Meanwhile, on the other side of the same Strait, Spain owns a bit of land sticking out into the Med and joined to Morocco. It’s called Cueta, pictured above.

I took a nice walk, and for the first time I tried out my GPS tracker. Not only can I now plot out my walking routes on google earth, I can geotag my photos. If you check out the page of that photograph, you’ll see the longitude and latitude marked in the EXIF Photo Information. Maybe there’s a handy way to pinpoint the photo on a map which doesn’t involve opening Google Earth and importing KML files, like a one click “where is this?” link, but I’ve not worked it out yet.

Cueta isn’t very exciting. As far as I can tell, the only reason it exists is for duty free shopping trips from Spain.

Next stop: Casablanca!

This is my path around the city. At one point I walked down a long road, and the footpath was always set back under the buildings, which was a nice way to avoid the sun. The GPS really screwed up though, as you can see be the utterly erratic section!

Casablanca good and bad:

Good: Taxi’s are very cheap.
Bad: One driver dropped me off at the wrong place, which happened to be next to an associate’s shop.
Good: The Medina is an good place to visit! Very vibrant, with some amazing low-tech fixing and interesting markets.
Bad: Two young men tried to mug me. “Give me your phone!” One said, and when I turned away his partner had turned up behind me. A bit of arm grabbing (and some shouting by me to attract attention) later and some other locals told them to stop. Pro Traveler Tip: concealing camera in bag and phone in pocket won’t help if you’re wearing white Apple earbuds. Earbuds are good for ignoring beggars, as you can pretend you’ve not heard them as well as not seeing them… but not great for Morocco!
Good: The Mosque is very impressive.
Bad: It only opens to infidels after 2pm, and I didn’t want to wait.
Good: I think I’ve seen everything I need or want to see in Casablanca on one trip.

Next stop: Funchal, Madeira.

I only remembered to turn on my GPS tracker once I was in the cable car. Oops! Also it the paths go all over when I’m walking between buildings. I guess that’s what comes from going with the cheapest GPS option. Still, it’s good enough for me at the moment.

I’d heard about a “luge” that you can take down the hill from the top of the cable car ride. “Great,” thought I, remembering the fun I had on a luge in the Czech Republic last year:

It turned out my informant got the wrong word. What he was looking for was “toboggan.” This comes from farmers delivering their goods to Funchal in baskets, and sliding them down the paved road into town. This has evolved into a tourist attraction, where you too can sit in a basket and be pushed down a hill by two local men.

I gave it a go anyway, and actually quite enjoyed it, despite the expense. However, as I was expecting a luge, and got a toboggan, disappointment was always nagging at the edge of my mind.

After the ride I walked a bit around the town, but didn’t put in much effort to find things to do. Funchal is another port I’ll be visiting later in the year, so I plan to get out of town itself and explore the island a bit more then.

Tenerife: went straight to the airport, and saw very little. I’ll be visiting again later this year too, so hope to take a trip to see a volcano.

That’s it!

2 comments to this article

  1. dad

    on 2009/10/01 at 18:39 -

    good. I travel by proxy

  2. Mary

    on 2009/10/02 at 11:06 -

    The climb up Mt Teide is well worth the trip. You do need a pass to enter certain parts of the national park though (including the summit). This has to be obtained in Santa Cruz before you visit Teide. This web page gives you the info you need.

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