The Jewel In The Crown
When we caught wind of an epic road trip through snowy peaks, forest and waves we had to know more. A perfect opportunity to put our Spring 2019 collection through its paces had presented itself.
"Time spent exploring the coast feels like home, familiar but always different. The way a shoreline can change from day to day, hour to hour on a roadtrip is stirring. It’s these places and moments that inspire the Passenger Spring 2019 Collection, so it felt right to be there with them."
Friends of Passenger Joshua McMichael & Daniel Holley hit the road in search of warmer climates, escapism and the simple life. Roaming from the Swiss Alps to the Sahara desert, this was a pipe dream turned reality. Of course, it was filled with all the highs and lows that only the best adventures muster. Over to you, Joshua.
“It all started how many good stories do, poring over maps, imaginations racing without much of a plan. We longed to escape the winter, find warmer climates and catch some sweet, sweet African swell.
The road starts in Geneva, Switzerland, where we picked up our trusty wheels. A well worn and aged camper with big comfy seats, comfier beds and a space to cook up some delights. Perfect.
As luck would have it, the day before we arrived in Geneva there had been a fresh dump of powdery snow. It was the best the area had seen for some time.
On day one of our journey to escape winter, we found ourselves in the middle of near perfect powder conditions. Ironic, but there was no way we could pass up the opportunity to carve lines through 3 feet of fresh.
As we headed into the Alps, we found ourselves playing an unintentional (and fairly terrifying) game of chicken with a snowplough. Of course the snowplough won, we were forced into a ditch at the side of the road. Time stopped for a moment.
Getting out into the biting cold, we worked hard to try and get our four and a half ton van out of the snowy verge. Close to giving up, a local hero appeared out of nowhere. He stopped his beefy old 4x4 and winched us out with little chat. We were taken aback and eternally grateful, the guy went above and beyond to help us out; we were back on track.
We hit the slopes until the last lifts, laughing as we bombed down the side of the mountain together. Fun as it was, our drug of choice was surfing and boarding that day just made us crave it more. A swell was building around Hossegor, we raced across France to thaw out and get our fix.
There was a three day period where the wind lined up with a perfect two meter ground swell. We jumped in at Capbreton first light; a beach with battlements left over from WWll. Artists have taken these huge chunks of cement and flipped them on their heads. The results are a rad swell backdrop built out of dark old rubble.
After a long one in the water, buzzing and knackered we caught up with our new friend, Chloe. She was the hostess with the mostess, supplying us with home made mango rum and freshly baked croissants. Great end to a great day.
At home in Irish waters I’m used to the cold, so out there hardly any neoprene was needed. There was also the added luxury of not having ice cream headaches from duck diving…
"This would be considered a summer dream back home in Ireland..."
The local French guys did not share our views on this, they were gloved, booted, hooded and didn’t stay in the water long. Too cold for some, I would have described the water as balmy. The lineup was small and good times were had.
The sun was out, 18 degree air temperature and clean, hollow waves. This would be considered a summer dream back home in Ireland.
Our Luck with wind ran out in France after 4 days. The wind swung round Southerly but the swell remained. This would wreck the conditions on the west coast of France. Although, it opened up new opportunities elsewhere… Mundaka in the Basque Country beckons.
What a place! A big surging sandbar that appeared to barrel for miles all the way into the river mouth. It doesn’t get better than this. Mundaka breaks on average about 50 days out of the year so we felt truly blessed to score it as we were passing by.
The Pyrenees mountains were a big climate shock. Up until this point the weather had been gradually warming up. We went from sunshine and nearing 20 degrees to negative temperatures and knee deep snow. We might have looked ridiculous getting out to refuel wearing shorts and tees. Time to throw on something with a hood..
We stopped off at Salamanca to check out some of the ancient architecture. It was here we realised that the camper was definitely not ok. The dashboard lit up like a Christmas tree. A quick search had us heading towards Seville to find a garage and some respite.
Tangier, north of Morocco; The swell looked much bigger the further south we looked. So we headed for Rabbat until neither of us could drive anymore. We parked at the first garage and jumped into bed preparing for an early start.
We checked out a couple of the souks and picked up some trinkets. It wasn’t until we got past Casablanca that the surf started to really pick up.
Even though it was starting to improve, both Dan and myself where holding out for that one perfect point break to park up and settle. We ventured on south to El Jadida.
It was dusk as we arrived into El Jadida so we pulled up overlooking the point. It was worth the extra drive. We cooked some chorizo bean stew and opened a few cold ones.
We woke up early and sipped coffee overlooking the break. We cooked some egg, mushroom, avocado and goats cheese hash. We had picked up some traditional Moroccan flatbreads the night before. The went together nicely with the rest of brekkie.
The next day early doors, we dutifully headed to the nearby garage to get the van fixed up. The day was nearly gone but the van was finally tip-top. We jumped in, wasting no time heading for surfing Mecca, Safi: the jewel in the crown of Moroccan surfing.
We pulled up to a small cliff overlooking a right hand screaming point break. After paying one of the locals a “parking fee” or as the paramilitaries in Ireland call it “safety money”. The wave was big, clean and expected to get bigger over night.
We had found a sweet spot and everything was looking rosy. We spent 5 or 6 days here, I lost count in the end. We had sunshine, waves and endless delicious local foods. Everything was right in these moments and we felt at home.
We bumped into a couple of guys that worked at Wave & Chill (a cool little shack on Safi beach). We drove round after a surf to hang out, reflect on the day and grab a 10/10 tagine with more mint tea.
Soon enough, we had as much delicious food, drink and surf as we deserved. We spent our last day in Africa basking in the sun and surfing in boardies. The last remnants of respite from neoprene and icy Atlantic water.
We watched rich hues of fuchsia, saffron and vermillion fall behind the horizon. We broke out our collection of wine, beer and rum and invited our new found moroccan friends to one last fling.
Our 3,400 mile journey was drawing to a close. Dan prepared to head north and drive back to Cornwall and I headed south, into the night. In the months to come we would reflect on our time as sea gypsies. But for now, I was Agadir bound in a van full of buoyant Safi locals; hooting and hollering all the way home.”