Thursday, 20 November 2014

Shkoder, Albania to Tanger, Morocco

We loved Albania but unfortunately it was time for us to move on. We booked a ferry to Morocco so we had limited time to get to Livorno, Italy. Missing the ferry would have meant waiting a week for another one as at this time of the year there is only one crossing a week. So we left Shkoder and headed for Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina where we spent a couple of days in a rented little apartment.

Leaving Albania

Entering Bosnia and Herzegovina

It was already late when we crossed the border so soon after we found a little restaurant to have dinner. The truth is we simply stopped at the first open place as every other restaurant on the way was closed. We were the only customers and not all the food from the menu was available. I don't think we were even shown the menu. The daughter of the owner as the one speaking English just informed us what we could order. All sounded good and once it arrived it turned out to look and taste even better. We enjoyed the meal a lot!

Here's some photos of the flat in Sarajevo

The little garden at the back of the property. The stairs lead to the apartment we rented whilst the owner and her family occupy a place below. The flat was not only pleasantly decorated but also well equipped and very clean. We weren't really able to communicate with the owner and whenever we needed to talk to her she would ask her daughters for help as both of them spoke English.

An afternoon walk in Sarajevo

A little break for a coffee and cake. Micky sunk her teeth into everybody's dessert moving from one side of the table to the other depending on where there was a cake left to eat.

The entrance to the cafe. Note the signs!

The Old Town

Sarajevo is recovering from the siege and the war of 1992. It is a very modern European city with high risers and big shopping malls. Nevertheless, there is still lots of buildings that carry the signs of the war. 

This is the National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina which unfortunately, as far as I know, has been closed since at least 2012 due to lack of funds. Below is the Historical Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina which we visited for its exhibition on the war. From the pictures in the museum we could see that the building itself looks exactly as it did 20 years ago. The only difference is that now it has got windows. 

One of many buildings that still carries clearly visible signs of the war.

On the way to Split in Croatia from where we took a ferry across to Ancona in Italy. We were considering driving there to visit places  on the way such as Slovenia but the little time we had wouldn't have been enough to do any sightseeing. Taking the ferry seemed and it turned out to be a good idea. 

Working hard on a faulty wheel bearing at a hotel car park where we stayed the night before. We had a whole day in Livorno before boarding the ferry so we used this time to get ready for Morocco meaning some car maintenance and shopping. Although we were only about 10km away from the port, as always we were running late to the ferry. There are five or six different ports in Livorno and our ticket confirmation didn't provide us with the name of the port from which our ferry was leaving which meant driving around until we found the right one. Just as well the ports weren't too far from each other.

 Here's our one and only souvenir: Italian made, bought in Italy with help from an Italian lady. Aaron had a very difficult time deciding which mokka pot to buy as one can imagine there was a very good range of them. To make the decision easier and quicker I asked an Italian lady for help. Since neither of us spoke Italian and obviously (as hardly anybody speaks English in Italy) the lady couldn't speak a word of English, I simply showed her the two pots we were considering and without any hesitation nor delay she pointed to the one we bought later.

Keeping busy on the ferry
Beany is very much into Maths at the moment, especially counting, addition and subtraction. He is getting very good! He uses number patterns to solve some addition sums i.e. he calculated that 12+12=24. Some time later he got to a number sentence: 12+11. He likes talking to himself when working out his sums so he was explaining: 11 is one less than 12 and 12 and 12 makes 24 so 12 and 11 equals 23.

Planning off roading in Morocco. Aaron was going to do lots of other things such as going swimming, surfing the net, working out at a gym and taking the kids to a playroom as the ferry, according to the website, had a lot to offer. However, the pool was empty, the gym and playroom were closed and the crew did not know what Aaron was talking about when he asked them about wi-fi. Apparently there was never wi-fi available on this ferry. The only places that were still open were a couple of bars and a self-service restaurant that opened at certain times for breakfasts, lunches and dinners. There was also a duty free shop which opened in the evenings. Other duty free shops were obviously closed and used as praying rooms. 

One night when we were already back in our cabin for the night there was an announcement advising passengers that the (only) duty free shop was open. Beany asked whether all the shops were open so I explained that only one of them as the others were made into praying rooms. After a moment of silence Beany asked: Did you say that other shops were made into play rooms?

Obviously watching Peppa Pig
This is where we spent most of our daytime on the ferry. Every morning we brought there bags full of toys, books, crayons, drawing pad, crochet kit and anything else that we felt would keep us occupied throughout the day. It was interesting to watch other passengers, mainly Moroccans, who just sat in the lounge and simply stared ahead of them. They might watch TV for a while or engage in a conversation but most of the time they did nothing. Poor kids didn't have anything to do either. The lucky ones were handed phones to play on but that was only one or two. Some entertained themselves by watching Marcel play on a tablet. Beany even let one boy play but when he refused to hand the tablet back and did only when Aaron finally stepped in, Beany decided it wasn't a good idea and didn't share it any more.

Every lady needs a bag.

When booking the ferry tickets Aaron booked our meals, too. We had three adults meals for lunch and dinner as we thought the kids would share one full meal. We were pretty amazed to see how big the meals were! Every meal included a pasta dish as a kind of starter, main with a side, drink, bread and a fruit.

We had a very calm crossing all the way from Livorno to Tangier. The weather was nice too: sunny and warm. Not everyone, though, agreed with us. We would get out onto a terrace wearing T-shirts whilst everyone else was wearing jackets, hats and scarves. Aaron got even stopped by one passenger trying to tell him that it was too cold to take Anastazja out just in a T-shirt.

Approaching the port in Tanger, Morocco

Checking out the ferry

Off the boat, queueing to the passport and custom controls amongst homecoming Moroccans whose cars were completely full with stuff inside and on the roof as much as possible. Homemade roof bags were very common and the blue one in the picture below is one of the smallest we saw. We were very surprised to see that amongst so many things the Morcocans were bringing home were bags of toilet rolls! 

By Polka

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