Saturday, March 10, 2018

Essaouira - Moroccan Beach Town

I liked Essaouira a lot, and I'm glad I went there. It's a very inexpensive beach town and the people are wonderful, which I've found to be the case all over Morocco...with the exception of Marrakesh cab drivers, street hustlers and medina merchants, most of whom will take you for as much as they can get. And even they somehow seem to do so charmingly.

Still, as much as I enjoyed my time in Essaouira, I probably won't be going back, for a couple of important reasons. After spending 5 weeks there, I realized that there just isn't enough for me to do. 

I choose places with low cost of living to spend the longest amounts of time because I can work without paying tourist prices. It's actually much cheaper than living and working in the States. But when I come up for air after spending days at my computer, I want something interesting to do - attractions to visit, movies to see, or just going out to eat.

There is no shortage of places to eat in Essaouira -
particularly on and near the beach, as well as in the medina, but not much else that appeals to me. I can spend months in equally cheap Mexico City, and always find something to do. There are so many attractions and cinemas to choose from.

The other thing is that it's not real convenient to get in and out of. The bus ride to Marrakesh is almost 3 hours long, mostly through desert. And while there are regular flights to London and Paris, they aren't every day. Plus, just getting to the airport is convoluted.

There are petit taxis that take you around town, and grand taxis that will take you to the airport. But even though I stayed on the edge of town closest to the airport, I had to take a petit taxi in the opposite direction to the center of town to transfer to a grand taxi that would take me to the airport.

Also, there are no ATMs at the airport. So I had to make sure I had an extra $15 cab fare when I was leaving, if I planned on coming back. It all just seemed like more trouble than it was worth. Still, there were a few things I really liked about the town.

Grocery shopping was a joy. So many things were ridiculously cheap. There was a pastry counter near me where I got these three items for just 40 cents.

A container of pitted olives was only 50 cents. 

What was weird, though, was that I went to Morocco to get away from the holiday hoopla and found it even in a non-Christian country.

Still, the town had a very exotic feel to it. 

Essaouira Chamber of Commerce

Even the modern architecture was very well blended with touches of the past.

It was just a few little touches...

...that made all the difference.

I liked that there were so many open spaces.

They were all over town.

And very well used, for resting, visiting or children playing. 

You did have to be careful where you were walking, though.

And I have to say, finding a pipe in my apartment's utensils drawer felt a bit exotic, too.

The Medina

The Essaouira medina is my favorite of the few medinas I've seen in Morocco. I liked it much better than the ones in Tangier and Marrakesh.

It didn't hurt that I had to walk along the beach to get to the entrance.

Since everything is cash only, it's nice that there is an ATM conveniently located at the entrance.

Though there were some very narrow streets, it didn't have
the closed in feeling that the Tangier medina had.

There were many more open spaces.

The small restaurants and coffee shops that offered free wifi were much preferable than Starbucks.

There were so many places to eat, and the prices were definitely lower than you'd find in most places.

You could splurge on Sole Meuniere for less than USD $8.  

In addition to the restaurants just scattered around the medina, there was a square that was kind of like a food court.

Once you got in, it was just restaurants on every side. 

I liked the merchandise better than I'd seen in other medinas.

I also liked the decor items for sale. 

And I loved all of the artworks.

I don't remember seeing art galleries in the other medinas. 

But this one had some very colorful artworks that greatly appealed to me.

I love the loose, flowy clothes that is found in abundance in Morocco. 

It was even available in more muted colors.

The Beach

Since Morocco is located on the North Atlantic coast, the water will never be warm enough for me to consider going in it. And definitely not the middle of winter.

But like a lot of others, I found the beach, with its wide boardwalk, a great place to hang out.

There are plenty of places to eat. 

Places for kids to play... well as adults. 

Lots of choices for lounging. Some belong to the restaurants, the fanciest one belonged to...

...a nearby spa hotel. 

So, all in all, there was quite a bit to like about Essaouira. But, for me, I think a week would have been plenty enough time there.

I don't think I will feel the same about Marrakesh, but I'll know for sure after spending a month there soon.

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