Day 11-15: Essaouira, Morocco

by - September 19, 2012

Day 11: Marrakech to Essaouira

Having done the lion’s share of the sightseeing part of the trip, we were going to spend out last four days
The famous goats in trees
resting and relaxing. Our chosen destination for this was the town of Essaouira (pronounced Es-weera), on the Atlantic Coast, due west of Marrakech. I had asked the taxi driver who picked us up from Marrakech station to drive us the 200km journey - he charged us 800 dirhams, which wasn’t a whole lot more than the bus would have cost. We arrived at our hotel at about 2pm. What with this being the resting and relaxing phase of the trip, we had booked our swankiest hotel - the Heure Bleue Palais, a 5 star colonial style place that we had been excited about since we booked it in February. It is the first hotel I have ever been to that had an induction, where we were shown where the swimming pool, cinema, billiards room, restaurants and lounge were - all very exciting. We spent the rest of the day chilling out at the hotel, with dad and I going to get some very late lunch and having a bit of an explore (the other two are recovering at the moment). After a swim we went down to the sea front and found a great restaurant overlooking a pretty square where there was some live music playing. First indications of Essaouira are that it is very nice.

Day 12: Interrupted Sightseeing

The Foggy Port
When we woke up the next morning we found that the town was completely shrouded in mist. Breakfast was
served on the roof terrace, though visibility must have been less than 20 metres. Assuming that the mist would soon be burned off by the sun, we headed into town. Mum and Will had yet to look around properly, so we wandered down the main streets and alleys looking at shops and stalls (and at one stage totally losing each other). Unfortunately the mist was clearing extremely slowly and all of the views that we hoped to have of the town and sea were obscured. Slightly disappointed (and hoping that this wouldn’t be the same for all our time in Essaouira) we headed into a cafe for some lunch.

Luckily when we came out it had cleared and we were able to look around properly. The town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, selected as an ‘excellent example of European colonial architecture in Africa’. It was colonised by the Portuguese to protect their African trading empire and is based around a walled town and fort. Today it is a major working fishing port and one of the main sights (and smells) are the fish stalls, which we spent time exploring. It was getting hotter and hotter as time went by, so at about 3 in the afternoon we headed back to the hotel pool. It was while we were swimming that we got a phone call from home with the horrid news that our house had been broken into - so we had to spend the remainder of the day making calls back to England. We made the group decision to not rush home and to try to make the most of our remaining days in Morocco. After hours of phone calls we headed out for some pizza on the sea walls - a decidedly mixed day really.

Day 13: Back to the Holiday

Castles in the Sand
Having passed up the opportunity to rush home to pick up the pieces of our ransacked house, we tried our best to continue with he holiday - we figured that the house would be rubbish whenever we came home so we might as well squeeze out some more from the trip.  We decided to walk out of the town along the beach and keep going until we wanted to turn back.  The area is known as the windiest place in Africa, located as it is on the Atlantic coast.  We must have been lucky though because the wind was more 'gentle sea breeze’ than 'bracing storm’.  About a mile along the beach we came across the so called 'castle in the sand’ - the remnants of an old Moroccan fort that has long since collapsed.  Legend says that it was the inspiration for a Jimi Hendrix song of the same name - a legend that ignores the fact that he visited two years after the song’s release.  Still though, it was a lovely place to spend the early afternoon.

View of the town from the walls
Once back in town we grabbed some food and then walked around the walls.  The city was built by the Portuguese as a trading town and has a more European feel to it, with whitewashed buildings and open streets and squares.  The town’s fortifications are very impressive and are on the whole intact, allowing us to walk from tower to tower around the city.  Having got our fill, we made our way back to the hotel to freshen up for dinner.

Day 14: Last Day

The fish on display
After a fairly gruelling few days in many ways, we spent the morning enjoying the last couple of hours of what was supposed to be our rest and relaxation phase.  This meant doing a lot of souvenir shopping and was also a chance for us to try out the legendary Essaouira fish stalls.  These are essentially the same as you would find in Marrakech, except with freshly caught fish instead.  You basically go to the stall, point at the whole fish that you want and then watch as they cut it up and grill it.  Literally one of the best meals I have ever had.  After our last look around beautiful Essaouira we got a taxi (the same guy who brought us here) to Marrakech airport where we got our extremely cramped and uncomfortable plane back to Luton.  It had been a surreal end to the trip, but we felt no ill-will towards Morocco and had thoroughly enjoyed our time there.  

You May Also Like