Mention Morocco and you get Marrakech, but outside Marrakech lies other lands waiting to be explored; beaches and fresh food, galleries and alleyways. Essaouira (es-Sweera) is two hours and thirty minutes from Marrakech by bus, a long drive with a break in the middle, but it is very much worth the visit. The windy city of Africa, as it is fondly referred to because of the wild sea breeze from the Atlantic that hastens the sand and whips up a frenzy, is brimming with charm and delight, tempered by the calm of the sea, windswept in a storm of pleasant memories.
It is hard not to fall in love with this town, from the moment your feet touch the ground you are drawn into a sense of calm. Make the short walk from the station to the sea side, or take a taxi with a flat rate- every journey is the same fare, to enjoy the pleasures that await. Essaouira is a small town so its easy to see it all by foot and in a day, but its also the perfect weekend get away if you are staying longer in Morocco. Start your journey by the seaside, in one of the seafood restaurants that line the marina, we stopped over at Chez Scow, right at the end, a short walk from the ocean and by local knowledge, his is always the freshest catch of the day. You select what you want they give you a price, take a seat in one of the crammed tables and they’ll prepare your pick for you. Served with salad and breads. You may also buy from one of the fisherman and pay for it to be grilled. Eat with your hands, because the others will, lick them because you will have to, the food is just that good.
Once fed and watered, let your journey commence in the souk. Smaller than that in Marrakech, there is room to wander without bumping into other shoppers, the lanes blend into each other, revealing new things at every corner, but don’t be surprised if you get lost, matter of fact, if you don’t get lost you are not doing it right. It was in getting lost that I stumbled into the most divine galleries ever, ever, EVER! Gallery Le Kasbah. We weren’t allowed to take pictures but it was such a pleasure to be there, on display were art works of local artists, and some of the most beautiful sculptures and smack bang in the middle was a fountain. Another lost journey took me to a courtyard of carpenters who carved fine mini sculptures from wood. Beautiful and arresting.
Essaouira is open and warm, the breeze blows wild and free, this little town ever enchanting.