Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Last Stop…Essaouira

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We had long planned to end our Moroccan travels in a seaside town with the explicit plan of relaxing and taking in the sea breezes. As with most places, we weren’t quite able to relax with all the hustle and bustle that goes along with any dining or shopping experience in Morocco. However, Essaouira proved to be downright calm in comparison to all of the other Moroccan cities we had visited. Jimmi Hendrix is said to have written Castles on the Sand with this place in mind. Essaouira is also known for its Argan oil.

Essaouira, a white-washed and breezy town, is located right on the water and boasts an incredibly easy-to-navigate little medina. Our lovely little riad, Dar Ness, was exactly what we had hoped for and more: quiet, small, and priced right. We spent several lovely hours each day reading on the terrace and soaking up the sun (and avoiding the sea gulls that dive-bombed our breakfasts!).

James, the proprietor, offered us many good dining suggestions and was supremely helpful in organizing a taxi transport all the way to the airport in Casablanca. We did, in fact, have the best food on our trip in Essaouira; just none of it was Moroccan!

On our first day we haggled for grilled fish by the pier, but the fish was over-grilled and really, after haggling everyday in the souks of Fes and Marrakesh, the last thing we wanted to do was haggle for our meals. So we decided to hunt out the quirky: our first dinner was at Dar Loubane which was decidedly quirky. Run by an older French couple and filled with random bric-a-brac, the sole meuniere and chocolate mousse was a welcome change, not to mention the fact that they had wine on the menu.

We spent our last day in Morocco browsing the relatively quiet streets of the medina and reading on our terrace. Our last dinner was at another quirky place, Dar Baba. Run by an Italian, Dar Baba serves authentic homemade pastas and cheeses. We were a little skeptical as we had just spent several days eating in Rome, but we were glad that we stumbled upon it. All 5 tables were happily eating and sending recommendations our way. It’s unfortunate that we hadn’t been able to find as many positive dining experiences in Fes or Marrakesh as we did in Essaouira, but we were glad that we ended our trip there. All in all, starting in Fes, decidedly the most chaotic of the cities we visited, and ending in Essaouira, the calmest of the cities, was a solid decision: we entered Morocco at its craziest and departed Morocco at its calmest.

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