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Europe, North Africa 1998

a travel blog by Jason Kester





This trip was planned with two goals in mind: Climb at all the world class crags in southern France, and run with the bulls in Pamplona. This was also my first attempt at lightweight travel. I carried a single pair of pants, a single long sleeved shirt and two t-shirts. You'll note that I'm wearing the same outfit in every single photo. I'm like Charlie Brown that way.

Along the way, I managed to get diverted to Morocco for a week, got injured and ended up in Berlin for a few days, and was basically assimilated by the Mediterranean backpacker crowd for quite some time. Regardless, I still got in a whole bunch of climbing at some amazing places, and did indeed run with the bulls.

One summer is not nearly enough time to do Europe right, though it is definitely enough to run through all your savings. I plan to be back soon.
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France by train

Portland, United States


I'm going to be in France this summer with no car, so I'm looking for recommendations of sport crags that are within walking distance of train stations. Ideally, there would also be a cheap place to crash nearby (without camping), but that is secondary.

Can anybody help me out?

permalink written by  Jason Kester on April 29, 1998 from Portland, United States
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London, United Kingdom




permalink written by  Jason Kester on June 5, 1998 from London, United Kingdom
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Madrid, Spain




permalink written by  Jason Kester on June 6, 1998 from Madrid, Spain
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Asilah, Morocco




permalink written by  Jason Kester on June 7, 1998 from Asilah, Morocco
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La Linea de la Concepcion, Spain




permalink written by  Jason Kester on June 11, 1998 from La Linea de la Concepcion, Spain
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Hey!

Madrid, Spain


I wasn't sure that I'd be able to send e-mail whilst on the road, but aparently it's not too much of a problem in the bigger cities. I'm in Madrid now at this cybercafe thing in the trendy section of town. It costs 500 pasetas (around $5) for an hour on this ald beater computer.

So far, everything is going great. I met up with my friend Laura (climbing paul's landlord) and we headed down to Morocco for a few days. It is a totally cool place, and everything you hear about everybody trying to screw you out of your money is true. You get off the boat in Tangiers and are immediately mobbed by all these 'guides'.

We escaped the first round only to find that one had appointed himself our guide and was walking in front of us the whole time. Anyway, we escaped to Asilah, 50 miles south on the atlantic coast, and it was beyond cool. Everybody was friendly, and the sun was out and the beach was sandy, and the food was incredible. Go to a morroccan restuarant tonight and get yourself some meatball Tajine and a loaf of bread to go with it.

Anyway, I dropped Laura off at the airport this morning, and tonight I'll hop a night train through barcelona and connect on to Marseilles or Nice. It turns out that the best climbing areas are all within a couple hundred miles of marseiles. After a few days on the beach, I need to pull on some rock.


permalink written by  Jason Kester on June 12, 1998 from Madrid, Spain
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Kid Madrid

Madrid, Spain


Apparently I am able to check e-mail from time to time over here, at least from this address.

Anyway, Spain pretty much rules, as does Morocco (and moroccan food). I'm pretty much fed up with big cities, and the french in general, so I'm off to climb some rocks.

I'm sure I'll be more poetic in my next email, but for now I'm just mostly beat and looking at 20 hours on the train to Marseilles, so I need to go buy a bunch of that $1 wine to ease the journey.

permalink written by  Jason Kester on June 12, 1998 from Madrid, Spain
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Mo' of da trip

Marseille, France


So phase two of the trip took me to Buoux, this little town in the s. of France with big rocks and a cheap campground. It's takng a while to get calibrated to this overhanging pocketed limestone, but for the most part, climbing is going well. All the english speaking climbers bailed simultaneously a couple days ago, so I headed south to marseilles in search of a sunburn.

Found it, and now I'm off to ceuse to Hook up with a guy with a car and climb those 900 foot walls at verdon. So far, Kester's trip is going just fine...

permalink written by  Jason Kester on June 19, 1998 from Marseille, France
from the travel blog: Europe, North Africa 1998
tagged Climbing and Buoux

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News From Abroad

Berlin, Germany



So yeah, I'm in Berlin now, chillin at the Garner estate. I spent a week at Ceuse, which is possibly the best rock in europe. Moderately to way overhanging with big giant holds. You lose perspective for which way is up standing next to these walls because they are so uniformly overhanging. Everything looks straight up and down, yet the rope hits the ground 20 feet out from the base. The approach is an entire hour of walking up hill, and you gain like 1800 feet of elevation. You can watch planes flying around between you and the compground.

I'll spend a few days here and then go see about climbing some more stuff. July 7 is the day to remember as far as running with the bulls is concerned. I'll keep you posted as to whether I survive.

permalink written by  Jason Kester on June 27, 1998 from Berlin, Germany
from the travel blog: Europe, North Africa 1998
tagged Climbing and Ceuse

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bull boy

Pamplona, Spain


Just a quick note to let you all know I'm still alive & no longer in danger of being trampled by livestock.

As far as festive festivals go, this one was pretty damn festive. First of all, you have no option but to party until dawn, as there is nowhere to sleep even if you wanted to. A typical day starts at 5pm with dinner and a bullfight. Then 12 hours of swilling sangria & calimotxo (cheap red wine & coke) with a few thousand wassailers in the street, then a quick run with some bulls to cap off the evening at 8am, and off to the park to sleep.

I'm now in barcelona recuperating, and I've got to say that I've never appreciated a bed quite as much as I do now.

Anyway, rockclimbing season starts back up tomorrow or so, so It will probably be a few weeks before I can check my mail again.

permalink written by  Jason Kester on July 11, 1998 from Pamplona, Spain
from the travel blog: Europe, North Africa 1998
tagged CertainDeath and SanFermin

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Jason Kester Jason Kester
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Hey! I wrote Blogabond so I guess that makes me your host. Welcome!

I spend about 9 months a year on the road, chasing the sun around the world in search of good climbing and surfing. I carry a laptop along with me, and take on small programming contracts to take care of expenses.
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