Trip Start Dec 16, 2009
25Trip End Jan 09, 2010
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Mary was just getting ready by the time I was done, so I headed over to the bus station to check schedules for today's journey to Essaouira. The vibe was completely different today, as our late arrival last night meant the streets were quite deserted - there definitely was a buzz in the air. Strange smells, scooters zipping by, donkeys pulling carts, live chickens clucking ... it was a bit more like the Morocco you would expect.
The bus station - UNBELIEVABLY annoying!!! In a matter of mere minutes, the time it took to do a quick boot around the terminal looking for a bus schedule, probably 10 guys got in my face, trying some kind of hustle. Once again, I must say it was UNBELIEVABLY annoying. Have you ever wanted to punch a complete stranger in the face? Well today I did, a number of times, in fact! I couldn't wait to get out of there.
Back to the hostel to find Mary, to grab some breakfast at Place Jemaa El Fna. We wandered a bit, taking into account some tips from the hostel's manager, and settling on a place that seemed busy with locals. Not knowing what to order, we just followed along with what others were ordering.
We popped over to The Koutoubia, a 900 year old mosque, on the way back to the hostel to pick up our bags. Off to the Supratours bus station in the new town - unfortunately, there wasn't a 12:30 bus like we thought, so we had a couple of hours to kill before the next one. It's always a funny thing - the ticket girl was a cute local, but seemingly got cuter after speaking Spanish with me. What can I say, it's a beautiful language!
Off to walk around the new town - it's fairly modern, and is actually a little bland compared to the chaos and bustle of the medina. It's more of an art gallery and boutique kind of place, as opposed to the medina's chickens and donkeys.
The bus ride to Essaouira was pretty rough, conducive to motion sickness - it's a good thing that the bus let out at a rest stop about an hour into the ride, giving us a chance for some fresh air. Incredibly, there was a couple on the bus traveling with their two small children, and though they only stepped off a minute or two before us, they were already seated and feeding the kids their bottles before our feet had even hit the ground! It seemed almost magical how quickly they were able to do this! We had earlier seen them at the Supratours bus station and remarked how difficult it must be to travel with two kids - apparently, it's nothing for these two!
Essaouira is described as being reminiscent of a French seaside town - I couldn't tell, because it was dark and rainy by the time we arrived. And really, I couldn't see anything because before even stepping off the bus, touts were already shoving flyers for accommodations in my face. Seriously, I wanted to punch a bunch of people at the bus station
We found our way to the Riad Nakhla - though charming, it's definitely nicer in the photos! The room was tiny, with barely 10" on either side of the bed. One of the Riad's workers suggested an inexpensive place across the street for dinner - normally, I'd take a local's recommendation to heart, but we thought twice in this case, given the number of annoying touts we have come across so far in Marrakech.
We did look at the menu of the place recommended by the worker, the 4 Seasons, but decided to wander around town in search of other options. One was Elizir, touted by the guidebook as being the best restaurant in town, but its menu was a contemporary take on Moroccan cuisine, and we wanted to sample something more traditional tonight. There was Restaurant Ferdaous, which seemed to be as authentic as it gets, but its rather limited menu didn't sound as appealing as the one at the 4 Seasons, so we returned there. It's a cozy little place, low lit, with a Spanish guitar soundtrack.
After dinner, a nice little walk through the town - market stalls, art galleries, the main plaza, and down to the water. It's a bit of a relief to come here after the craziness we witnessed in Marrakech, as it's a bit slower paced, and feels like you can relax and catch your breath. I think we might regret not staying here more than a night ...