The Morocco Diaries, Part 10 of 10: Essaouira

November 09, 2018
The Santorini of North Africa? The seaside town of Essaouira is the antithesis to everything I had yet experienced in Morocco.

The Santorini of North Africa? The seaside town of Essaouira is the antithesis to everything I had yet experienced in Morocco.

THE MOROCCO DIARIES, 
PART 10 of 10 - ESSAOUIRA

My tour of Morocco was approaching its zenith. After a week on the road that took me in a circle from the coast across the High Atlas Mountains, the final city to be discovered (before ending where I started, in Casablanca); I was ready for a laidback day and night in the coastal city of Essaouira. Although only a couple of hours’ drive from Marrakech, the atmopshere of Essaouira is a world apart: the seaside town is uncrowded and calm - here, the only crowds are of seagulls. Then there are the city’s colours. Everything is blue here; from the vibrant cobalt doors and window shutters to the turquoise taxis that linger around the gateway to the Medina. The Medina itself, an 18th century Unesco Word Heritage site, is a fine example of European military architecture in North Africa. With its strong European influences, a constant refreshing salty breeze, and next to no crowds; Essaouira was a serene scene that was unexpected but very welcome.

MUCH MOROCCO

The Santorini of North Africa? The seaside town of Essaouira is the antithesis to everything I had yet experienced in Morocco.


The Santorini of North Africa? The seaside town of Essaouira is the antithesis to everything I had yet experienced in Morocco.

The Santorini of North Africa? The seaside town of Essaouira is the antithesis to everything I had yet experienced in Morocco.



The Santorini of North Africa? The seaside town of Essaouira is the antithesis to everything I had yet experienced in Morocco.

The Santorini of North Africa? The seaside town of Essaouira is the antithesis to everything I had yet experienced in Morocco.

The Santorini of North Africa? The seaside town of Essaouira is the antithesis to everything I had yet experienced in Morocco.

The Santorini of North Africa? The seaside town of Essaouira is the antithesis to everything I had yet experienced in Morocco.

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I quickly learnt that the mighty coastal winds - alizee, or taros in Berber - is what makes Essaouira unique and allows it to remain so. The fierce winds drive most beach-going tourists away, keeping the city uncrowded even in summer. However, the ‘Wind City of Africa’, attracts its own crowd - windsurfers from April to November, and visitors in the know who come in spring and autumn to enjoy Essaouira’s off-the-beaten-track allure.

Oh, there is plenty of allure. Dramatic waves lash and crash against the ramparts of the Medina. The beach bars (dotted with cobalt blue parasols, naturally) are the perfect place to while away an afternoon watching fishing nets being mended, kite surfers soar in the sky amongst the gulls, and  traditional blue-tailed fishing boats being constructed in the port. Even within the walled Medina, the winds follow. Here, the sea breeze travels through the narrow streets, adding a salty tang to the heady aroma of the smogarsbord of spices and argan products for sale in the souks. It is as intoxicating as it is relaxing. The Medina of Essaouira was unlike any other I had visited in Morocco - not just for its ubiquitous accents of blue - cool, calm, and devoid of crowds. It made for an extremely pleasant and unharried browse of the many art galleries, shops, and stalls; where I could actually strike up conversations without feeling rushed or talked over. And then at noon, church bells tolled alongside the mosques’ call to prayer; reaffirming the feeling that Essaouira was a unique mariage of the best of Europe and North Africa.


The Santorini of North Africa? The seaside town of Essaouira is the antithesis to everything I had yet experienced in Morocco.

The Santorini of North Africa? The seaside town of Essaouira is the antithesis to everything I had yet experienced in Morocco.

The Santorini of North Africa? The seaside town of Essaouira is the antithesis to everything I had yet experienced in Morocco.

The Santorini of North Africa? The seaside town of Essaouira is the antithesis to everything I had yet experienced in Morocco.

The Santorini of North Africa? The seaside town of Essaouira is the antithesis to everything I had yet experienced in Morocco.

From the tree-climbing goats of the argan country, to the markets of Marrakech, and the Sahara’s sand dunes; my Moroccan journey was as diverse as it was thrilling. I felt like I had experienced a proper overview of what the country had to offer. I couldn’t have asked for a better introduction to a country that I had waited so long to visit. Much Morocco, indeed.


Relive my Moroccan experience:

THE MOROCCO DIARIES

• PART 1 of 10: CASABLANCA
•  PART 2 of 10: RABAT & MEKNES 
• PART 3 of 10: FES  
• PART 4 of 10: ERFOUD
• PART 5 of 10: TODRA GORGE & BOUMALNE DADES 
• PART 6 of 10: HIGH ATLAS MOUNTAINS 
 PART 7 of 10: JARDIN MAJORELLE
• PART 8 of 10: MARRAKECH
• PART 9 of 10: ARGAN COUNTRY 
• PART 10 of 10: ESSAOUIRA

MUCH MOROCCO


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