This is part 2 of Bears in Morocco. For part 1 click here.
After two days in Marrakech, I have to say I was happy to leave the city. Too hectic for me. Some people love the hustle and bustle of a city, and haggling with salespeople, I do not. So off to the sea we went! Our first little trip from Marrakech was to Essaouira.
Going from Marrakech to Essaouira was easy peasy. We took a bus from the Supratours Station in the new part of Marrakech. We decided to book the “comfort plus” bus because we were told there would be wifi on board, that we’d have air conditioning, and that there would also be restrooms on the bus. Well…there was air conditioning. No wifi, and no restrooms. Still, it was a comfortable ride. However, on the way back we just took a regular supratours bus. The seats were slightly smaller but no big difference. A regular ride cost 80 dirham and the ‘comfort’ ride was 110. The bus took about 2 hours and made a stop for coffee and restrooms about halfway through.
Essaouira is a fortified city on the coast of Morocco. It was seized by the Portuguese in the 16th century who called it Mogador, and when you walk around you still see that name in various places. It was the most important trading port in Morocco in the 18th century. There is still a lively fish trade, and you can go over in the morning to watch the fishermen come unload and sell their catch of the day. This was Mr Bear’s favorite part of Essaouira.
You can also still walk around the city walls, and the northwestern part of town is a nice place to watch the sun set.
There is a wide beach, and though we didn’t go swimming, we took a long walk. It is a popular place to play football, and my favorite part was watching a little dachshund running around the pitch – he wanted to play too! 🙂
Essaouira is beautiful in a decrepit kind of way. The paint is peeling off of most buildings, it’s kind of dirty, but it ages beautifully. I found this to be true especially in the old Jewish quarter of the town, with bright doorways around. We didn’t find any as nice as we saw in the postcards, but they were still very pretty.
Btw: I wouldn’t recommend walking around the Jewish quarter on your own, especially not if you are a woman, and we were told not to go after 6pm as it can get a little shady. So Mr. Bear and I went in the afternoon and had a little stroll around.
In fact, Essaouira is pretty small. You can take a map from your riad or hotel and walk around the whole medina in about an hour or so.
After our walk, Mr Bear and I set off in search of another terrace to watch the sun set. We loved Taros Café, which has overlooks the ocean. It was such a nice, relaxing place to watch the sun set.
On the way there, Mr Bear and I saw A TREE FULL OF GOATS. O_O Apparently, goats played a part in the production of argan oil, climbing onto trees to nibble the tree’s fruits, and pooping out clean kernels. 😛 I’m not sure if this is still the case or if the goats were placed there for tourist purposes, but be sure to be on the lookout for these little guys on the way to Essaouira.
If you happen to be in Essaouira, by the way. You can pick up some cheap argan oil! There are many argan shops all around town, selling both cosmetic and culinary argan oil. Be sure to buy one from a legitimate women’s cooperative, which gives women jobs and financial autonomy. I purchased mine from the Tamounte cooperative, but you can find others listed here: http://www.cooperative-argane.com/nos-membres/
This way, you will also be sure that you aren’t getting diluted argan oil.
Tip: We’ve found that a combination of argan oil and jojoba put directly on the skin before bed can help alleviate itchiness and flakiness caused by eczema. 🙂 I like it on my hair and sometimes my face too. Be sure to stock up if you visit, it’s much cheaper than anywhere else!
Overall, Essaouira is a pleasant escape from nearby Marrakech. I think two days here should cover all you want to see here. Be sure to book your return bus ticket when you arrive, because they do sell out kind of quickly.
**Be on the lookout for the food post. It’s coming 😛
Have a good weekend!