Essaouira

Arriving late in the afternoon and having come from the Sahara desert, the cool sea breeze that greeted me in Essaouira was a welcome change.

My group immediately headed out in search of food and our guide directed us to a restaurant which had a rooftop.

We made it just in time to watch this amazing sunset.

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Only around two hours drive from Marrakech, this beach side town has been well known since its reputation of a ‘hippie’ paradise in the 1960s thanks to visits from the likes of Cat Stevens and Jimi Hendrix.

A decade earlier Orson Welles filmed part of his version of Othello here too.

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It actually gets really windy so my number one tip is no matter what time of the year you visit make sure you’re prepared for this!

As a result swimming wasn’t high on my agenda, but simply walking around near the beach, port and ramparts is enjoyable.

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We spent a good while watching this talented woman perform henna tattoos, most of the girls decided to get one and they looked great although the ink seemed a lot darker than normal, almost like permanent marker which appeared to be common sight for anyone who got henna here.

If horse riding is your thing then you’re in luck since it’s a popular activity and riding alongside the beach is easy to do.

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Since I prefer to keep my feet on the ground for the most part, I spent a fair amount of time exploring Essaouira’s UNESCO heritage listed medina.

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It is much easier to navigate compared to the hectic mazes you’ll find in Marrakech or Fes and while it may not be as large compared to these two, there is certainly no lack of choice and variety still.

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Since I was traveling for months I rarely bought anything as I simply just didn’t have the room in my backpack but Essaouira broke me, there is some seriously cool stuff here including amazing rug stores, leather good shops and jewellery too.

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The fish market is a favourite with tourists and locals a like.

It’s basically an open air small square off a street in the medina which offers a variety of seafood, I even saw sharks on offer as you can see.

A simple but great idea I haven’t seen elsewhere, just choose your preferred catch (which will probably only cost you the equivalent of a few euros, if that) and then you can have it cooked up next door in the dining area right away.

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We also ordered some tomatoes and fries to go with the seafood – delicious!

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This town has had Portuguese and French influence as it was invaded by both of these countries at some point, which is why there is impressive fortification/city walls around it.

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The view from my hotel room

I chose to come to Essaouira out of a recommendation from a friend ages ago and I’m so glad that I didn’t leave it off my itinerary for Morocco.

It’s a fresh change to a lot of the other cities I visited while in the country and being by the beach (which is never far away usually when you’re from Australia) always makes me feel more at home.

Oh and if you leave Essaouira bound for Marrakech as I did keep an eye out for goats in trees.

Yes, apparently this is a thing albeit I’m quite sure purely only for tourism but an interesting sight nevertheless!

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