Time to Leave Essaouira
Essaouira has left a very pleasant taste of morocco swirling about our taste buds, after our time staying in this charming Moroccan seaside destination. We are ready to move on again. We have with us the taste of the food, especially the fish, and the pastilla which I think I will have to try and create when we return to the grey shores of blighty.
Having stayed a few more days than expected, we could only extend for two days in the Riad we had been staying in (the Riad Grand Large, it wasn’t grand and it wasn’t large, Riad Small and Quaint would have been more descriptive) , so we found another not too far away the Etoile de Essaouira, this was not full of stars but was definitely in Essaouira
We have loved it, and while our second home did not quite live up to the charm of the first it was full of friendly staff and comfortable surroundings and it had an iPad sized telly on the wall. This we managed to tune in to CNBC so caught up with world news, well NBC’s version of world news. It was better than the two bedroom apartment with terrace that John wanted us to view, offered by one of the local dodgy types (these guys are on more than cannabis) who was offering free viewings at a fraction of the commercial rate, no such thing as a free lunch we thought and sidled on by.
We did consider renting an apartment earlier in the week but it’s cheap and so much fun to eat out, with your room serviced and a great breakfast wherever we’ve stayed, so it’s a bit of a no brainer, riads all the way…. However, if there are a few of you and you plan to stay in Essaouria for a week or two then an apartment would be a very cheap option.
Some things that have amused us
John decided that this near Equatorial sun was even too much for his leathery sun worshipped skin and bought a hat for the height of the midday (or three o clock in the afternoon as it transpires here) sun. Claire and I tried to warn him that is was not flattering and so henceforth he became known as Donald of Benidorm fame. I present below the compare and contrast photos for you to make up your own mind . John is the one with the cocktail
Bag men with carts
In the Medina you will be lucky if you find a road wider than about 10ft so, on the whole you do not see cars in there. You only have to watch out for the occasional crazy cyclist or the odd spluttering moped and these guys who push these things about with cries of “Balak or Attention” to give you the remotest chance of saving your heels and calves from their man powered perambulator.
So if you can’t be arsed carrying your one things from the station which is always outside the Medina you get the help of one of these guys. Who for a quid or so will transport your belongings through the city at a leisurely pace in their homemade cart.
Just one word of warning don’t let two of these chaps fight over your fare it can get competitive. In fact we have seen quite a few street altercations between the locals, at first this shocked us, but it would appear that this is the way things are. You have a disagreement, shout a lot at each other and then your mates gang round and keep you physically apart while you raise your shouts to screams and throw whatever is at hand at your tormentor. Then it all dies down and life goes on as normal and everyone is friends again.
As we have spent quite a bit of time here we have been able to see out more interesting foody places. Special mentions must got to two restaurants on what we have monikered the French quarter. They are opposite each other on a little side street off one of the main routes to the port. The La Decouverte is owned by a French couple and you get beautiful service from him and fantastic flavours from the Mrs who comes out and explains the menu and her specials of the day. For the princely sum of £9 each we got a three course menu which was beautifully spiced and flavoured and served with a very acceptable local Moroccan White wine.
In the La Tolerance opposite we had a beautiful calamari tagine which was favoured with orange and olives and a whole host of other spices which blended into a very tasty treat indeed. The calamari were soft and succulent which is a hard trick to pull off.
On the subject of olives, they are grown everywhere and you get them with every meal or drink you order. On the whole they are great and some can even give the great famous Spanish olives a run for their money, but on occasion they really over salt them rendering them nasty, especially the young green variety. So before you buy a kilo form the medina ask to have a little taste first so that you don’t buy a bag of salty ones.
It’s good to peel
I am normally quite good with the application of sun products to protect my beautiful, fair young looking skin, ahem (literary licence, it’s my blog and I’ll write what I want) For some reason my common sense has not had the foresight to think that while walking for hours on end around the medinas and sights of Fez and Chefchaouen it might be a good idea to apply some sun block seeing as we are getting quite close to the equator and the sun might be a little fierce.
The end result of all this is that my forehead, nose and ever widening bald spot are now on their second peel. I have now learnt my lesson as I can’t go through the daily ritual of picking off bits of skin which I have so brutally killed. So my morning ritual now includes, s***’ shower, teeth, blow dry hair and then full application of sun cream to my forehead, nose, baldy bits and nose.
Enough of that nonsense, we are now on a coach back to Marrakech and have decided we have had enough of Riads for the time being and have plumped for a little bit of luxury for the next few days. We have almost doubled our accommodation budget and are going to be staying on the outskirts of Marrakech so we can enjoy the weather around a pool and try and decide whether all those extras you get in a reasonably priced hotel are all worth it or not. This is also borne of necessity as all of our most desired sleeping places were full. It appears the whole of Europe has descended upon Marrakech for the Easter break. Looks like its gonna be tight in them there medinas.
We had also planned to roam off on our desert journey from here too, but we keep getting “sorry tour full” e-mails back from all the tour companies for the dates we want. So anyone know how you hitch hike on a camel?