Essaouira – much better than any fairytale

The WorldTravelerAfter four days in Marrakech I arrive in Essaouira – one of the most beautiful cities in Morocco. In the old town you feel like you have traveled back 100 years. And the coastal location with the beautiful wide beach even tops it all.

Okay, the hippie and artist town of Essaouira is no longer an insider tip: With its winding alleys, cobalt blue doors, galleries, cafés and partly decayed charm, the old town blew me away – but also many other tourists as well. Everybody takes pictures here until the battery is empty. Since the medina has been part of the World Cultural Heritage since the beginning of the new millennium, it becomes even more beautiful every day: Many old houses as well as the city wall have been stylishly renovated and one cultural event follows the next.

In our riad there are photos of Jimi Hendrix everywhere. He is said to have stayed in Essaouira in 1969 and even composed a song in the neighboring village (at least that’s what the tourists are told). Since the rooms are not numbered, I’m of course glad about the picture of Jimmy just to the left of our door – a great orientation guide! One faux pas is enough for me for today: When I wanted to go out on the street, I got the wrong door… and ended up in the hammam. A naked woman was standing in front of me with the door wide open, stunned. A hotel employee must have forgotten to lock the door… Maybe one should do that if the hammam is right next to the exit and the house is fully booked…

Breakfast with seagulls

Breakfast on the terrace also has a high entertainment value: As soon as we sit down, a few seagulls fly in – one fatter than the other. They position themselves in the immediate vicinity of the table. Of course, we always keep an eye on the greedy creatures. But it’s no use, because they attack from behind: One flap of their wings and bang, the butter is gone. What they always want with the butter has remained a mystery to us…

Arabic with a difference

During my walks through the medina I discover something new every day – in particular as I constantly get lost in the narrow streets. Just recently I wanted to go back to the riad and suddenly I found myself in a large square with well frequented local restaurants. As I got quite hungry from all the walking around, I sat down on the last free seat at a long table. And I started chatting with Sylvie from France, who speaks excellent German. She is often in Morocco, knows Essaouira inside out and gives great tips. Now I have a taxi driver I can trust and also know where to eat well and cheaply. On top, Sylvie also arranged an Arabic private tutor for me.

Baddredine is a former teacher with the patience of a saint. Now we do one hour of Arabic every day in his leather shop. When I arrive he puts a broom across the entrance, so that no customer disturbs us or even wants to buy something. After several Arabic courses in Munich, which didn’t help much in the end, I have the feeling for the first time I really learn something. And it can only get better every day!

Oh yes, my round trip through Morocco is already over. Until the end of my stay I have rented an apartment right next to our seagull riad. Essaouira is just mega!