Today I will be on the way to Essaouira. A small coastal city, ca. 3 hours by bus. When I bought the tickets, I found out that there is one bus each day, that offers extra comfort for just a small extra fee. Departure is at 9 am, so I can take it easy in the morning. The usual breakfast at the hotel and then the 10 minutes walk to the bus station. I am a little bit early, so I can sit down in the waiting area. Koran verses on the television… Most of the people on this bus seem to be tourists. I hear French, Danish, English and German. The bus has a 2 – 1 configuration. The seats are wider than normal, they have recline an a lot of legroom. Water is included if you want.
The drive was relaxing. After we cleared the mess of Marrakesh city we went to the highway (toll road). New road and very few cars. Something totally new to drive through wasteland. Small villages, some farms, everything very low standard. After half the tour we stop in the town of Sidi Mokhtar. There is a restaurant that seems to live on the tourist buses, transit buses and tour operators. 20 minutes to have a toilet break and grab a bit if you want. You even see people using mules.
Arriving i Essaouira, the city looks different to Marrakesh. This is more a holiday coastal city with hotels along the beach (but as it is November, no people). Most of the houses are white. The bus makes its way through the housing area to the “bus station”. This is in fact a dead end close to the city wall of the old Medina. The bus even has to turn in a parking lot. As I don’t have booked any guided tour I take my mobile GPS to go toward the old fortress at once. There the only geocache in Essaouira is placed. Some people try to make me buy fresh fish – argh… I hate fish. At Ground Zero I have bad luck, because one of the fishermen is using the wall with the cache as a place for hanging the fishing net to repair. I have to wait for him to turn away to check and do it again for several minutes. The cache is there where I thought first, just a slip of paper – but in this climate the chance of it becoming wet is small. Now as this is done, I can concentrate on the sightseeing.
First I go to the fortress. 10 DH entrance fee to get on parts of the wall and the small tower. A nice place for some pictures. Not much information there. Some signs would have been nice. Quiet windy today. Beautiful weather.
Now into the old city. First I try what I wanted to try before – fresh Grenadine juice. Bitter-sweet. Not tasted something like that before. Nice. Further on to the Moulay Hassan Square. A typical square with all the offers for tourists. Restaurants, souvenir shops. I find a small flag as a geocaching souvenir and a wooden Hand of Fatima to hang onto my travel wall. Much more relaxed here than all the shop owners in Marrakesh. Now let’s get deeper into the city.
A lot of shops here, the shop owners try to get people into their shops as everywhere. But much less people walking around here. At one of the leather shops I stop to look at the Poufs. I asked the price and faster than I thought I was inside of the shop. How to get out? The price he wanted was ridiculous. 950 DH. Now I made the mistake to start my haggling to high. I began at 300 DH. A little bit of a good cop, bad cop going on here. 750 – 350 – 600 – 400 – 520. I told them I wanted to think about it and the second guy made the main seller sell me the Pouf for 400. Handmade, genuine leather, under half the price from Europe. I think I did Ok. Then he wanted to sell me other stuff, but I had enough. How do you know that you payed more than you should have? Every time you pass the owner he is smiling at you, waving and calling out “Hello Norway!”
After some more walking around I go back to the main square and into the first souvenir shop again. There I buy myself a wooden tray that will look great with my tea light candles at home. Now I order some food at a restaurant. A Tajine with chicken, vegetables and bread. Not the best food I have had, but still nice. And cheap. Nice sitting a little bit, watching the people on the square. I could have bought several sunglasses or Sub-Saharan art. But no thank you, I bought everything I wanted.
Still 90 minutes to my bus leaves so I just wander around the city in the area where there are more locals. At a small shop with an old man baking a kind of doughnut and several locals I buy one big and one small for the amount of 3(!) DH. And they were delicious. A last souvenir at the bus stop – a small key chain with a scimitar to put on a Travel Bug. Some people who came with me take the same comfort bus back to Marrakesh. Same stop half the way. Not much to see in the night without any light sources. But much more life in the streets of the villages. In Morocco it seems that public life starts in the evenings. All the small restaurants, food stalls and shops are full of people.
Back in Marrakesh directly back to the hotel. Tomorrow I will go on an organized tour to the Atlas mountains. And We will leave early.