Warning: This route crosses through Austria [en]

Well, thanks for the warning, Google Maps:

Now I’m wondering: Do you know something about Austria that I’m not aware of? Or are you just upset about Austropop, après-ski, Opernball, and what happened in Braunau?

I should mention that I was planning a car trip from Munich to the Friuli region. (Shout-outs to Lago 3 Comuni Camping.) Any route that does not cross through Austria would have been at least four times longer.

Morocco — Surfing the Land of Rights [en]

Just returned from one of my yearly surf-trips, this time revisiting Morocco. Here is some old pics, from when I visited there back in 2011:

Unlike last year in Iberia or the year before that in Zanzibar, I only had four weeks. So I wanted to do less sight-seeing and traveling, and focus more on the surfing part. I also took fewer photos, so I’ll make it short this time.

Nov 19th, Week One, Tamraght

Like back in the day, I first headed to the area of Taghazout, a small coastal town north of Agadir. I had booked one week at CLI Surf, in the nearby town of Tamraght. A lot had changed here since my previous visit. The long beach that stretches from Taghazout south to Devil’s Rock is still there. Back in the day, the area between the beach and Tamraght had been a barren wasteland. Now it’s packed with hotel resorts and other tourism infrastructure, marketed as “Taghazout Bay”. Even the main road through Taghazout has been rerouted in order to accommodate some of the resorts. And there is a frickin’ golf-course further up the hillside.

The good thing is that Taghazout and Tamraght have kept some of their old charm. There’s definitely more touristy cafés, restaurants, souvenir shops and surf rentals everywhere. But there’s also ordinary produce stores, and most establishments seem to be small, locally owned business. Also good: public beach access is still possible everywhere. There’s a nice beach promenade just behind the beach at Taghazout Bay, and even more remote beaches are equipped with waste containers.

Which is good, because we had to drive to all sorts of spots to catch some waves. The first two days, we had decent swell, just right for warm-up. After some white-water and loads of close-outs on day one, day two was actually pretty fun. Sadly, the swell got smaller for the rest of the week, which meant that I was stuck on 8 foot foamies. But the CLI surf crew did a good job at finding the right spots, where some surfing was still possible.

A couple of days we ended up at the main beach in Agadir. Which was surprisingly nice and accessible, even though they’ve had big hotel resorts for ages there. Could not notice any severe pollution from the nearby industrial port either.

One day we even drove all the way south to Tifnit, which is sill the lovely fisherman’s village that it used to be. No large-scale tourism development yet, though I noticed a couple new inns and cafés:

Nov 26th, Week Two, Tamraght

I decided to stay in Tamraght for another week, but I moved over to nearby Mint Surf. Being a slightly smaller place, they could offer a more flexible surf-guiding package. Plus they made me a good offer for a nice double room all for myself.

Since the swell had picked up a little, I chose a 7′8″ board for most of the week. The first day, we went to Banana Point which had just the right size of waves. Unfortunately, it was also very crowded. One of my fellow guests just folded after a short while in the line-up. Everyone was dropping in on everyone else in the line-up. Party waves, as someone else would later call it. However, I caught some left-over waves a little further down from the main peak.

That’s why we mostly headed for beach-breaks for the rest of the week. Later that day, we went just north of Devil’s Rock, and we also had some good waves at Anza and KM11. As the title of this post says, Morocco is the land of right handed point-breaks. However, I did not get a chance to ride many of them. Anchor point was either too small, or too big, or too crowded. Boilers is still too sketchy for me, though it looked doable on one of the smaller days. We tried Killers once, which used to be my favorite spot on previous Morocco trips. The scenery bellow the cliffs is still stunning, but we weren’t lucky with the waves. Was just too soft after the tide started rising. Well, at least it wasn’t too crowded.

Towards the end of the week, the swell was getting smaller again, well below one meter. So we went to good old Tamri Beach. This beach lies perpendicular to the prevailing swells rolling in from the north-west, so it gets waves even when most other spots are flat. According to locals, the sand-banks there are not what they used to be, and in deed I struggled reading the waves there. The strong side-shore wind — and resulting current — didn’t help either. The next day the wind had calmed down, but it was rather cold and it was raining most of the time. I love being out there in the rain, but it was also very exhausting. Did not catch a single decent wave that day.

It was the only day of rain during my whole stay in Morocco. It wasn’t heavy rainfall, but it was steady. And it transformed the landscape thoroughly. All the gullies that lie dry for most of the year turned into muddy streams. There isn’t much vegetation to hold back the dirt, so some stretches of the coastal waters turned quite muddy. Check out these pics from Tamri and our drive back to Tamraght:

The last day of the week the swell was even smaller, so I grabbed an 8 foot soft-board, and joined in with the beginner’s lessons. They went to a beach they break called One Palm, a little north of Taghazout. While the beginners got busy in the white-water, me and a couple of other guests paddled out. Looked like the waves were closing out mostly, but after a while we figured out the spot. I got some really nice rides, mostly rights, but also some lefts. At around one meter, the waves were just right for the big board. I could catch a lot of them, with no risk of nose-dives and no hassle paddling out again. Certainly the most fun session so far.

Dec 3rd, Week Three, Imsouane

I wanted to see something new after all, so I relocated to Imsoune for a week. It’s not much further north than Tamri beach, but it’s about an hour more to drive. The road does not follow the coast-line, but passes a small mountain-range and continues further inland. The Souk to Surf shuttle is a convenient travel option here.

I’ve always liked this stretch of road. The landscape is rough and barren, and makes the sea seem all the bluer. Although after the recent rainfall, the land looked just a wee bit greener. This may also be the reason why I didn’t see any of the iconic tree-climbing goats that can usually be spotted along the road. I guess they prefer fresh shoots of grass over thorny Argan Trees, if they have the choice.

I stayed at Auberge Tawala, which I can definitely recommend. It’s a small family business and the rooms are much simpler than the ones at Mint or CLI. But they are located right on the cliff in front of Cathedral Point, with direct beach access. They have a super-cozy terrace with a good view of the line-up:

Imsouane does not have as many surf spots as the Taghazout area, only two major ones. The good thing is that these are just a short walk away from anywhere in town. The more famous spot is called Imsouane Bay, or simply The Bay. It’s a long right-handed point break that peels around Imsouane’s peninsula, all the way from the busy fisherman’s port to the endless beach inside the bay. In the right conditions — low tide, with a decent swell from the north-west — you can ride hundreds of meters.

However, the wave can get rather soft in some sections. That’s why you’ll meet a lot of long-boarders there, who have it easier to stay on the wave. Consequently I picked a 9 foot hard-top for this spot. However, I made the mistake to stay at the busy main peak for too long. The stiff competition and the occasional clean-up set make it hard to catch waves there. Instead you can simply let yourself drift further down the wave and catch whatever leftovers roll through. Eventually, you’ll end up on the beach. Then it’s walk back, paddle out, and repeat. Took me a couple of days to learn how to apply this procedure efficiently.

Here’s some pics from Imsouane Bay:

The other surf spot, Cathedral Point, is all the way at the other side of town (right by Auberge Tawala, where I was staying). It’s also a right-hander, but much shorter than The Bay. In certain conditions a small left-hander further down the beach also worked quite well.

Main trouble here was the crowds once-again. It wasn’t as many surfers as over at The Bay, but there the crowds would spread out over the sheer length of the wave. At Cathedral, everyone was sitting in the same spot and dropping in on each other. In particular on smaller days, when I would be surfing an 8 foot softy.

On one of the bigger days, the waves reached about 2 meters, which deterred the big crowds. And the handful of surfers still in the line-up knew to play by the rules. I tried my luck with a nice 7′8″ mini Malibu. It was an awesome ride compared to the bigger boards I’ve used most of the time. And I did indeed catch a couple nice waves. But it was hard work paddling out and fighting the moderate current. I guess my endurance was the limiting factor here.

Here’s some pics from Cathedral Point and its surroundings:

Altogether, Imsouane is as packed with tourists as Thaghazout. But the large-scale tourism developments are still absent here. And everybody is here for the surf. This gives Imsouane a more laid-back vibe.

Dec 10th, Week Four, Tamraght

Nevertheless, I relocated to Mint Surf in Tamraght for the last week of my trip. Unfortunately, I fell sick and had to skip three days of surfing. The day after, I still felt super weak and opted for a mellow soft-top session at One Palm. I could barely stand upright on dry land, but the surf was super fun once again.

The remaining days were so flat that we could barely find surfable waves. One day we ended up at KM11, the next day we drove all the way north to Imsouane. The Bay did not look promising, so we tried the left-hander near Cathedral Point. This worked surprisingly well for about half an hour, but then it just went too soft. In the end we relocated to Tamri, which once again kept the promise as a reliable spot for smaller swells. I struggled with my 7′8″ hardtop, but in the end I caught a couple strong waves. A good conclusion to my trip.

I have not taken many photos during the last week, but here is some impressions from Mint Surf, Taghazout by night, and the beach front and hotels near Tamraght:

New OpenPGP Key [en]

I’ve been using OpenPGP for email signing (and very rarely for email encryption) for ages. In fact, the key that I’ve been using so far is from 2001:

Key ID: FA817B97927965CA
Fingerprint: E434 42D9 61CA EABF D4BF 36AC FA81 7B97 9279 65CA

This key (actually two sub-keys, one for signing, one for encryption) has a fairly low size by today’s standards. I’ve been aware of this for ages, but I’ve also been too lazy to roll out a new key. Well, until today. So, here is the new one finally:

Fingerprint: 956F 3271 E9B2 8A45 A03C 35F1 AA3F BEFB E3D7 5E3B

It’s also signed with the old key, so if you trusted that, you can trust the new one, too. I’ve already configured my email client to use the new key from now on. And I will mark the old one as expired or revoked eventually…

One reason that I’ve been putting off key-rotation for so long: using OpenPGP, GnuPG, and similar has always seemed such a hassle. And I’m afraid that this has not improved much in the year 2023. Today, I’ve been wrestling with crashing CLI and desktop tools for OpenPGP, numerous error messages, discontinued key servers, etc. Yes, I know that SHA1 is considered insecure. But why should its use in the signatures on my old key keep me from using the old key to sign the new key? This is all still way too frustrating…

Shoot yourself in the foot: crypttab edition [en]

I’m running Ubuntu on my laptop, using the standard disk-encryption that the Ubuntu installer provides. (Well, the one it provided a couple of years back, when I last installed from scratch.) This setup uses cryptsetup with LUKS on the main partition. This in turn contains an LVM physical volume, which contains a volume group with two logical volumes: one for root, one for swap. So far so good.


Two days ago, I let my laptop run out of power. But when I restarted it, I wouldn’t get the usual prompt asking me for the disk-encryption passphrase. Instead the Ubuntu startup screen would just show a wait animation for several minutes and then drop me to the initramfs shell (BusyBox). One of the error messages complained that it couldn’t find the expected logical volume with the root filesystem. I had no idea why, so I suspected (wrongly) that some recent Ubuntu update broke something.


I fired up my phone and my work laptop and started searching for solutions. At first, I couldn’t find any good advice. So I resorted to my work laptop for a couple of days and waited until the weekend would give me more time to deal with this.

And indeed, today I found a great solution to my problem. Unlike other suggestions elsewhere, it didn’t even need to run a live Linux distro. All I had to do was wait until the Ubuntu boot dropped me to the shell and then decrypt my main partition. In my case, this command did the trick:

$ cryptsetup open /dev/nvme0n1p3 crypt-disk

I entered my passphrase when prompted, then ran exit and the boot process continued normally.


But I still didn’t know what was going on. And I was pretty sure that the same thing would happen on the next boot. Suspecting broken packages, I first ran an apt upgrade, but I didn’t see anything suspicious. Then I went back to this other proposed solution, which recommended running update-initramfs. When I did, I got this:

$ sudo update-initramfs -u
update-initramfs: Generating /boot/initrd.img-5.15.0-78-generic
cryptsetup: WARNING: target 'crypt-disk' not found in /etc/crypttab

And indeed, the respective entry (which had always been there) was missing from my crypttab file. So I added the following:

# <target name>	<source device>		<key file>	<options>
crypt-disk UUID=e6d0b181-b36f-4833-b87d-c5c4946f88e7 none luks

When I ran update-initramfs again, I got no more warnings. So I took my chances an re-booted, and … it worked!

Root Cause

But how did the crypt-disk entry disappear from my crypttab in the first place? It dawned on me immediately:

I’m using Ansible to manage my boxes, including my laptop. I also use it to manage crypttab entries for some encrypted external USB disks. But I do not manage the crypt-disk entry in the crypttab file with Ansible — I just stick with whatever the Ubuntu installer has given me.

This isn’t a problem per-se. The Ansible crypttab module only manages individual entries, not the whole crypttab file. It leaves manual entries in peace. But a couple of weeks ago, I did some manual testing and deleted the crypttab file. Just wanted to verify that the next ansible-playbook run would fix everything. And yupp, it worked.

But I totally forgot that I had manual entries in the crypttab file. When checking the results of the playbook run, I didn’t realize that something important was missing. And the problem only manifested weeks later, when I booted my laptop.

So in the end it was all my fault. Nothing to blame on Ubuntu, as was my first instinct. Also: I should reboot more often.

Iberia Impressions: Cantabria [en]

From the Picos de Europa I headed back to the Bay of Biscay. Cantabria was the last section of Spains northern coast that I hadn’t visited yet.


I only spent a few hours in Cantabria’s capital Santander, because I had to return my rental car there. As ever so often, the most apparent landmarks included old churches and modern architecture by the shore. Here, the latter was represented by Centro Botín, a stilted museum looking like some kind of space-ship. Oh, and they have the straightest clouds that I’ve ever seen.

San Vicente

The last surf destination on my trip was at San Vicente de la Barquera, about half way between the town and neighboring Comillas. While all of northern Spain was way greener than I had expected, the area around San Vicente was particularly colorful. White-blue skies, turquoise waters, yellow sands, green meadows, black forests on the slopes of the distant Picos, and purple sunsets — almost too kitsch.

It was still windy, but way less windy then in the Picos. The waves had grown stronger again and the offshore breezes didn’t seem to disturb them too much. A great setting for my last week in Spain.

Well, San Vicente was not quite my last surfing destination on this trip. On my way back east I had another brief stop in Donostia, but I’ve already shared my impressions from there. After that, I was ready for my long train-ride home to Munich.

Iberia Impressions: Picos de Europa [en]

I hadn’t known about the Picos de Europa mountains before planing my trip to Iberia. But a Spanish colleague from work recommended them to me, when I asked for hiking recommendations in the Pyrenees. Pictures on the Internet looked promising and it was not far off my route along the coast. Since the swell forecast looked flat for a couple of days, I decided to pay the “Picos” a visit.

I struggled to find good train or bus connections (maybe because it was off-season?) so I rented a tiny car for a couple of days. I picked it up in Gijón and dropped it off in Santander afterwards, because that was the closest city to my next surfing destination.

Lagos de Covadonga, Vega de Ario, Belbín

My first stop was the Lagos de Covadonga (Lago Enol and Lago de la Ercina) which are situated in the western part of the mountain range. This place must get crowded in summer. I hear the road gets closed and you have to take shuttle buses from the valley. I visited in the end of October, so I could drive all the way up to the lakes myself. It was pretty deserted up there, just a few dozen tourists by the lakes.

But I wanted to venture further up, to the Refugio Vega de Ario. I had downloaded some GPS tracks for this trip. On the way up, I followed the main hiking trail. The Picos are mostly limestone and this part forms something like a plateau. It is kinda hilly and rocky, but there’s no big climbs. It reminded me of Steinernes Meer back home at the border of Germany and Austria. But here in the Picos, you get views of the actual sea, not just a sea of rocks.

It was super windy. Though the whether forecast said it would remain dry, I saw dark clouds moving in from the south. Luckily they dissipated once they reached the main mountain range to the south, and I didn’t get caught in any rain.

It took me about 3 hours to reach the Refugio. And after leaving the Lagos, I didn’t meet another person. The Refugio itself was closed down for winter. A small room in the entrance area was left open and served as an emergency shelter. And there was some outdoor seating, which I used to have a very windy lunch.

On my way back I tried to follow a different GPS track, which was kinda tricky. While there was traces of human and animal traffic in some sections, there was no visible clues of a trail in other parts. I got off track for a while and I found it cumbersome to get back again. After I joined the GPS track I checked it on my phone every few meters, in order to not get lost again. (Luckily I had brought a battery pack, but had my phone broken down, I could have been in real trouble.) On the plus side, I had great views of the nearby rock formations, the sea in the background, and even some rainbows.

I got back onto a proper trail about half-way back to the Lagos. There, I also encountered the only people that I’d meet on my hike: two cowboys who were driving a herd of cattle down the hills. The trail led me through the picturesque Majada de Belbín. Old stone huts surrounded by free roaming animals, like a donkey, a couple of dogs, several cows, and a big scary looking bull. From here a comfortable gravel road led back to the Lagos, with horses grazing nearby. No more need for GPS.


The village of Seattle Covadonga is located in a deep valley, further down from the Lagos the Covadonga. There’s a holy cave (not pictured) and an impressive christian church located on a big hill in the middle of the valley.

From Bulnes towards Picu Urriellu

The next day I drove across the Rio Cares into the central massif of the Picos de Europa. I was heading to the remote village of Bulnes, which can be reached easily by a cable-car leading through a long tunnel. Bulnes is a small village (well, actually two villages) with tiny old houses built from stone. Its lower part is situated inside a deep valley, with towering cliffs all around. Its upper part is located further up the slopes, right beneath one of these cliffs.

But Bulnes wasn’t my only destination for the day. Instead, I hiked further uphill through another deep valley towards a mountain called Naranjo de Bulnes (Spanish) or Picu Urriellu (Asturian). It is not the highest mountain in the Picos, but it has a very distinctive peak. I’ve seen many mountains all around the world, but Picu Urriellu is certainly one of most sightly ones.

I didn’t have much time left, so I didn’t expect to make it all the way up to the Refugio de Urriellu. Let alone climb the peak itself. But I got fairly close to it, about half way between Bulnes and the Refugio. This gave me a good view of the mountain and its surroundings. Compared to Lagos the Covadonga area, the terrain here is much more mountainous. Still limestone, but steep rocks rather than a plateau.

I hiked up for about 2h and after leaving the village of Bulnes I didn’t meet a single person. The weather looked threatening, but in the end it only rained a couple of drops. And the valley that I passed was somewhat sheltered from the wind. I descended by the same route, so here’s some pictures from top to bottom:

Iberia Impressions: Galicia & Asturias [en]

After two weeks of surfing in Portugal, I headed back north, to the Spanish region of Galicia. They must have great beaches and surf-spots, but I hear that many of them are pretty remote. Traveling by bus/train and not having infinite time left, I decided to leave Galician waves for some other time and to head further east. But since I was coming through anyway, I decided to have quick peek at Santiago…

Santiago de Compostela

Galicia’s capital is world-famous for being the destination of the Camino de Santiago. So whenever you’re at a train-station, bus-stop, hostel, or country road in northern Spain or northern Portugal, you’ll have a good chance to meet pilgrims on their hike to Santiago. I’m not overly keen on the religious background of “The Camino”, but some secular folks who do it, too. They just enjoy the hiking, the scenery along the way, or their timeout from day-to-day life.

I arrived at Santiago in the late afternoon and journeyed on early next morning. So I only had one night to see the old town. By the time I got there night had fallen. The dark blue sky and the yellow lights reflecting off stone walls gave the place Mêlée-Island vibe. Though most buildings are certainly more recent, all looks kinda medieval. And yes, Santiago is soaked in christian architecture and symbolism. It’s not just the great cathedral, there’s churches everywhere. And a penis shaped pillar for some reason, must be a religious thing.

Gijón (Xixón)

After having left the Basque Country more than 2 weeks earlier, I was back to the Bay of Biscay. My first stop was the Asturian port of Gijón. Though bigger, the geography kinda reminded me of Donostia: there’s a peninsula with big hill in the middle. The old town is located right underneath, on the land-facing side. From here, big bays stretch along the coastline in both directions. The city itself rises right behind their beaches.

So there’s clearly an urban vibe in the surf line-up. But the scenery looks quite pleasant, especially when big swells are pushing in. Like elsewhere in Spain, there’s a lot of (monumental) artworks sprinkled in and around the city. A good mix of nature, history, and modernism.

Ribadesella (Ribeseya)

After Gijón, I headed further east along the cost. Took a lunch-break in the small coastal town of Ribadesella. They’ve got a nice beach there and I hear they get good surf. But for the next few days the Cantabrian Sea would remain flat. So I turned inland from here and headed into the mountains.

Iberia Impressions: Portugal’s North [en]

After Madrid, I headed for the coast of northern Portugal. Less sight-seeing and photographing, more surfing and partying. Didn’t even make it nearby Porto. Well, I’ll get to see it some other time…


First stop was the Ofir peninsula near the town of Esposende (the proper Portuguese pronunciation of which I will never learn). My accommodation was basically in the dunes right behind the beach. There’s also an estuary/lagoon right by the house. A good kite spot in theory, but as ever so often there was barely any wind during my visit. So I focused on wave surfing.

Viana do Castello

Just am small coastal town, half-way between Esposende and Moledo. I came through it twice, because I had to change between train and bus here. Looked lovely, but I couldn’t spend much time.

Moledo & Âncora

Next destination was Moledo do Minho, a coastal village, whose scenic beach stretches all the way to the river that forms the border to Spain. The beach of nearby Vila Praia de Âncora wasn’t bad either. And we had decent surf conditions at both.

From here, I headed right back to northern Spain.

Iberia Impressions: Madrid Stopover [en]

I hadn’t been to Madrid before and the city has always been a mystery to me. How could one of the most notorious maritime empires have been governed from a landlocked place like this? The geographic location seemed unappealing — no harbor, no impressive mount-range serving as backdrop, not even a noteworthy river flowing through.

But it looks like in Spain all roads lead to Madrid, rather than Rome. So for bridging the distance between Basque Country and Portugal, a stopover in Madrid just seemed convenient. Other than this, I didn’t expect much, but this is what I saw…

Let’s do some Tourism

I booked an overpriced hostel, near Plaza de España. It turned out that it wasn’t far from the Royal Palace, the Almudena Cathedral, or Plaza Mayor either. So, expect for a short train ride to the area of El Retiro Park, I explored all of that by foot. I have to say that the city has an impressive vibe. Everything looks big: the streets, the buildings, the monuments, the parks. Not big in the sense of skyscrapers, but in a sense of grandeur that cities at home lack.

The parks in particular. Parque Casa de Campo starts right by the palace and the cathedral and it seems to stretch to the horizon. It’s probably the biggest park in Madrid, but not the only one by far.

Madrid Street-Art Special

I had dinner someplace around the Malasaña quarter, which quite lively at night. I also noticed loads of art on the walls and shutters. So I just had to come back the next day during daylight and have a closer look…