Marrakech 2022 – part four

“Oh I do like to be beside the seaside…..”

And why not? Marrakech for all its attractions is a dusty, sometimes smelly and occasionally smoky place so a day beside the seat (well Atlantic Ocean actually) is a delightful prospect. so before we left home we booked tickets for a day trip to Essaouira; former hippy haven and where the cool surfer dudes go.

Sadly there is no railway connection to Essaouira but the national railway ONCF has a bus company subsidiary called Supr@tours who not only run a bus service between Marrakech and Essaouira but a once daily a round trip “luxury” coach for those soft tourists. Actually all their buses look pretty modern and OK but the luxury one offers more leg room, comfy seats and air conditioning so that looked to be the one to go for. I have driven this road and know it can be challenging so a bit of comfort is to be embraced.

We arrived in good time at the Supr@tours depot (next door to the railway station) and were soon on board and, indeed, the seats are comfortable. We left a few minutes early as everyone was on board but then it took the driver nearly five minutes to get out of the yard and into the very busy boulevard outside. Leaving at 09h00 the journey takes three hours but that includes a “comfort break” at about half distance so gets us to Essauoira in time for lunch.

Soon we were out of the Marrakech suburbs and onto a dual-carriageway that wasn’t there last time I passed this way although that was probably about fifteen years ago. Soon we were crossing barren land with occasional olive groves but were graced with superb views to the south of the snow covered High Atlas Mountains.

Scrub, olive grove, trees and snow clad mountains.

And so it went on. We passed the occasional settlement and even through the odd town and all on either dual-carriageway or motorway, my how things have changed. Just over halfway we pulled in to a cafe come restaurant come shop where we had twenty minutes stop so we grabbed a quick coffee. The staff were clearly very well prepared for quick turnround coaches stopping. And we were off again. Gradually the surrounding countryside started to become much greener and it also became clear that we were gently descending from the plateau down towars the coast. It had been raining for a while and was quite hard at times but this eased as we dropped down to Essaouira and by the time we arrived at the bus station had stopped altogether and was comfortably warm. There had been some considerable flooding on the roads of the outskirts.

We walked down towards the beach and when we arrived there had our first view of the bay.

Looking across the beach towards the harbour.

Onwards along the edge of the beach passing the celebrated restaurant ‘Le Chalet Sur La Plage’ where we have had lunch in the past but this time we headed into the centre of town.

This area close to the port has been completely cleared since we were last here.
Place Moulay Ibrahim.
Essaouira passage with cat.
One of many intresting doors.
In the shopping area.
Another passage, another cat.

We walked around the medina/souk area for a while and there were some interesting shops but it was mostly tourist stuff. There were a couple of music shops with glorious West African music blaring out; we grabbed a bit of lunch and then headed down to the port. Essaouira has a large fishing fleet and is one of the most important ports along the Moroccan coast. We walked down to and round the fishing port which is interesting with fishermen’s stalls set out with the latest catch, BUT it’s clear that while the fish is fresh the ground isn’t. I can only guess that for years bits of fish have been ground itno the road and has cooked in the sun, and the stench it dreadful. My stomach is strong but I had to leave quickly before I threw up. Anyway here are a few non smelling photographs.

Entrance to the port which is walled.
Inner harbour.
Part of the harbour defences.
Typical fishing boat.
Wall of the old fort.

Part of the fishing fleet.

By this time I really needed some nice fresh air so we walked out of the port area and went and sat on the sea wall where we enjoyed the breeze in the sun and watched the activities on the beach.

And then it was time to stroll back to the coach and make our way back to Marrakech. Again it was a very stright forward and comfortable ride with a break at the same place but as we were approaching dusk we were treated to some very dramatic skies.

And then we were back at our riad for an early night. The forecast for tomorrow is for rain…

5 April 2022

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