An Afternoon in Essaouira
After spending time in Marrakech, my fiance, Reda, his parents, and I drove to the Atlantic coast for a few days along with the family puppy, Paco! En route to Agadir, we visited Essaouira for an afternoon. As we pulled into the town, I saw a coastline full of beach-goers and surfers! My future Mother-in-Law, Rachida, grew up in Essaouira so it was really nice to have her show us around. We ended up parking right beside her high school!
Whereas Marrakech has all red/pink hues, Essaouira has more whites and tans with splashes of bright blue throughout the city. We spent most of the afternoon walking through the Medina, with winding streets and corridors filled with vendors selling anything from spices to clothing to woodwork! There are a lot of beautiful items made from thuya, a tree that mainly grows in North Africa. Walking into a thuya store is a real sensory experience because the wood has a very strong aroma. The craftsmanship is overwhelming. If I didn’t have to bring home my luggage from my France apartment, I would have bought sooo many things! I thoroughly enjoyed weaving around the old town and browsing all of the shops and art.
With the exchange rate, everything already seems cheap. However, you can barter with vendors for even better prices. I was very happy to allow Reda and his parents to barter on my behalf. It’s just not something that I am used to and as a tourist it is hard to know what is a fair price. If you express any interest in something on display, the shop owner will immediately begin offering prices. As a foreigner, it can feel a little overwhelming and seem aggressive. However, they are just trying to haggle and sell their products.
I pointed to a pair of pants at one point, and the vendor immediately approached, holding out the pants telling me a price. I actually would’ve paid what the man first asked for, but Reda’s parents knew better. They laughed and told the man he must be kidding. As we began to walk away he hurriedly dropped the price to the equivalent of $4 and we bought them. $4 pants y’all! The key to bartering is CONFIDENCE. Or in my case, let the locals handle it and follow their lead. 😀
The modern city name of Essaouira means “The little rampart.” The city is enclosed by walls, and the coast is bordered with stunning harbor fortifications from the 1700s. Lining the ramparts are cannons from Spain, Portugal, and the Netherlands.
This is actually where they filmed Game of Thrones scenes for the city of “Astapor” (home of the Unsullied)!! The cannons are bolted in place, so they could not be moved for filming. It’s easy to see where GOT built the set around the cannons or edited them in post-production. –>
It’s never a proper day of tourist-ing without a break for coffee or tea!
After we explored the port, we sat down for coffee and cakes at Rachida’s favorite pastry shop in town. The adorable shop had walls that were covered in paintings and an open courtyard in the back. We sat in the courtyard near a group of surfers who were also enjoying tea/coffee. The coastal breeze made the temperature in Essaouira much more comfortable in comparison to Marrakech, so it was great to sit outside. Paco was completely unphased that a stray cat was hanging out on the stairs beside us in the courtyard.
Wow, this looks amazing.
reminds me of Bataan in Philippines. the fortress and cannons are still in tact. i will surely bookmark this place.
Never heard of Essaouira but it looks super beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing. Morocco is still on my bucket list. Can not wait to visit.
Man oh man, I am so jealous, We spent a month last November in Morocco exploring all of it but we just never made it over to Essaouira and I really regret it cause I would have loved exploring the little streets and really wanted to check out the famous fortified walls. Such an amazing history in that coastal town. I loved Morocco (we got engaged there too) because even though there was a bit of bartering and hustle in the many medinas we went to, it seems like your afternoon in Essaouira that most were friendly and fun!