Following the ocean-spray and the smell of iodine
Spoiler alert: this adventure took place almost a year ago, in March 2023. But it took me quite some time to put it on the blog 😉
After these few days in Marrakech, which were much needed to get back the glimpse/vibes of the African continent, I wanted to travel a bit the country and discover a city that I’ve heard only good things about, namely Essaouira.
I’d heard stories about the beauty of its sunsets, the power of the Alizés that swept away the sea spray, but also about the charm of its Médina, the craftsmen’s shops brimming with magnificent pieces, the art galleries popping up everywhere, the smell of grilled fish near the fishing port,
For all these reasons, a visit was more than necessary.
And if the charms of Essaouira had won over Jimi Hendrix or Cat Stevens in the sixties, then I too should be able to succumb to them.
After saying goodbye to my friend and his family, for a few days only, as I had planned to return to Marrakech to start off Ramadan month with them- I collected my hire car from the airport, configured the GPS and cast off for this new adventure.
After exiting the city and its tumult, I reached my cruising speed/altitude and could almost set up the auto-pilote as the road was straight for nearly 200km/3hours.
With some podcasts/bangers playing on the sound system of the car, the drive was very smooth. I stopped a few times along the way to take pictures of the arid scenery.
Arriving in the early afternoon, I parked the car in a parking outside the city wall, where I got “conned” by some locals Long story short, I ended up paying a bit extra money to have an available parking spot straight away.
But hey, a tourist who doesn’t get ripped off isn’t really a tourist right :-)?
After this minor incident, I started to pace up and down the narrow pedestrian streets of the Medina, trying to find the Riad where I booked a room for the night.
I had booked another hotel closer to the beach for the following nights but for the first one, I wanted to be just a click away from the most picturesque spots to make sure I could take a round of pictures during the golden and blue hours.
With this program, I’d have an entire afternoon to stroll around the city and make a little location scouting.
But first things first, having an empty stomach, it was lunch time. I decided though to first go to the Riad to drop my bags so that I could move around more freely.
And it was my luck, but around the corner, I found this very charming little cafe were I could share a table with a 4-legged fellow.
And of course, I had to have avocado toasts 😉
Now that the basic needs were covered, I could continue the exploration of the city. And it felt nice! The colors, the smells of the spices, the wind… So fortifying!
The boutiques, the local crafts… I had definitely a good feeling about the upcoming days and spoiler alert, I wouldn’t be disappointed.
50 Shades of Blue and 100 smells of spices…
Discovering the city, its history and some hidden gems.
Here I do not want to go too much into the where abouts as the primary purpose of this blog is to showcase my pictures. I do not intend by any mean to transit towards a traveling blog. At least for now.
So I just spent the next 2-3 days strolling around and snapping pictures. It started with building pictures, but with the time passing, and my eyes sharpening, I started to look more into details.
I went to the fishing harbor in the morning to look at locals doing their own things (mostly fish related), then when to the city walls, started to enter the shops, etc.
Where to stay/eat?
If you need hotel/restaurant recommandations, feel free to connect and I’d be happy to give you some more tips and tricks. But here are just a few.
I befriended the hotel manager, Baptiste, a French guy from Bordeaux who used to work in the wine industry. He had married a Moroccan woman and after the Covid-cris, he decided to change life and settled in Morocco where he was running the operations of the Hotel Vent des Dunes. The recos he gave me were quite on points. Last time we spoke, he had started a new job at another hotel/bnb in Sidi Kauki though.
But as for the accommodation, I stayed first at Riad Kafila, which was located in the city center. Breakfast was good. I could snap the last room which was a single bed room. Decent for one night, but very humide with the related smell.
Then I moved to the hotel Vent des Dunes, with a very nice roof top, closer to the beach, about a 5min drive/30min walk for the city center. Very good price/quality ratio, the manager was very helpful and the room was super cosy!
And if you’re looking for a trendy bobo-chic vibe, Dar Baba was also nice. They had no table available when I arrived, so they seated at the dj booth where I could indulge a welcome drink.
And then, a table became available. But there was another gentleman waiting for a table too, Pierre not to name him, also from France. So they asked us if we did not mind sharing a table, which we didn’t of course.
And we spent a great night exchanging stories. Long story short, being also entrepreneur, he’s the co-owner of the Restaurant les Complices in Paris, a motorbike rider, and a former professional Rugby player, it didn’t take a lot to clic 😉
A night in Sidi Kauki
After 3 nights in Essaouira, it was time to leave for Sidi Kauki. A surf town on the coast, about 30km away from Essaouira. I desperately needed to dive in salted water and wanted to surf.
Long story short, having not practiced for nearly 6 years, I couldn’t catch a lot of waves. But just being in the water made the difference. The guy from the local surf shop was super accommodating.
He allowed me to rent the board for a few hours only (I hadn’t taken mine obviously). And for me to be able to indulge a sunrise session, when the spot – a left – was working the best, I could pick up the board the evening before. Very cool.
I ended up in the water with a guy from Zürich, an Italian dude, two retired French guy living 6 months per year in Morocco, bref, you never surf alone as they say 😉
But besides that, Sidi Kauki is a surf town by essence. So there is not much to see/do besides…surfing. So if you go there, make sure it is for the right reasons 😉
Concluding thoughts/picture gallery
Since a picture says more than a 1000 words, I think it will make more sense to leave you with some impressions of the city and how I appreciated it through the lens of my camera (a 35mm in case you wonder).
I might add some words/description later on but as I am busy with a ton of things at the moment, a.o. the preparation of a trip to New Zealand, I do not find the inspiration to describe my stay in Essaouira with more words.
However, updating the blog was on my to-do list for a long time. So at least, now the basics are covered 🙂
I hope you’ll enjoy and that it will give you the motivation to discover it for yourself.