Saturday, July 19, 2014

Essaouira, Morocco (part 1)

When I discovered that Morocco is only a 3ish-hour flight from London, I immediately started planning a trip there. Jason and I knew that we had to take advantage of being able to visit AFRICA while it was so close to us. I was also excited to practice my French!

It was our first time visiting a predominantly Muslim country. Even though Morocco tends to be a bit less conservative than other Islamic countries, we were still very eager to experience the culture first hand and were cautious with the types of clothing we packed.

We started our journey with an early morning flight out of chilly London.

Three hours later, we landed in HOT Marrakech.

We immediately hopped on our bus to Essaouira. Although this was another 2-3 hour journey right after being on an airplane, we wanted to have our coastal time at the beginning of the trip and end with the last few days in Marrekech. That way, we would be conveniently close to the airport when it was time to head back to London.

Needless to say, when we finally arrived at our riad (Riad Chbanate), we were utterly exhausted. It was definitely worth the long journey, though. When we stepped through the doors, the riad was a relaxing retreat from the chaos of the medina.  

We were greeted with traditional Moroccan mint tea. Our instant love for this tea quickly morphed into a multiple-times-a-day ritual. 

The next morning came quick with an unexpected early morning wake up call - the call to prayer. From our room at the riad, we could hear it broadcasted loud and clear across the whole medina through built in speakers. This was an interesting contrast to have such a modernized sound system installed into an ancient walled city. We were so in awe of this unexpected moment, we didn't seem to care how early it was.

We decided to get an early start and enjoy the day. Here's our delicious breakfast spread. 

And some daylight pics of our riad.

The strong coffee was superbe!

I definitely recommend staying in a riad (which is essentially a bed and breakfast) in the medina over one the big fancy resorts that line the beach outside of the city walls. It's much more of a culturally rich experience and it doesn't hurt to know a couple of locals who can offer a few insiders tips and speak Arabic for you when needed! 

After a filling breakfast, we were ready to explore. As we stepped out of the riad into the busy streets, it was quite the juxtaposition. 

A group of people gathering fresh mint for their Moroccan tea.

Olives galore! I couldn't resist.

Good thing we packed appropriately. My pale skin would have stuck out (even more) and would have gotten scorched!

In the distance you can see one of the outer walls of the medina.

We eventually made our way to the harbor.

Essaouira is a huge fishing port. The architecture is a Portuguese/French/Moroccan fusion.

Every morning, the fishermen bring their boats back into the harbor with their fresh catches of the day. The locals are lined up to bargain for the best deal. It was a loud and stinky mess but fun to watch.

Finally we made it to the beach!

After a busy afternoon exploring the streets of the medina, we went back to our riad to rest up for our camel ride that evening. 

The hardest part about riding a camel is the transition up! The camel moves in slow motion so you really have to hold on tight.

We had a guide take us out into the dunes. Turns out, our guide usually does multiple-day treks into the Sahara Desert during the winter season. Our hour ride was more like a stroll for him (and for our camels).

The wind was in full force, bringing the sand with it.

We finished the night with a low key dinner at a highly recommended vegetarian restaurant. We were led up a narrow staircase to a private nook. I knew it was meant to be when I saw the Beatles. 


Overall, it was a very successful first full day in Morocco!

1 comment :

  1. the food looks sooooooo tasty!!! i want moroccan food now!

    looks like you kids had a great time!! xo