We left after breakfast for Essaouira. The narrow streets of Essaouira are ideal for casual exploration. Their size discourages cars, and as we walk through the town it feels as though little has changed since the days of sea pirates. It is a mix of religiously conservative Arabs, French and German tourists, and groovy young locals wearing designer gear. Apparently jummy Hendricks wrote purple haze whilst staying on one of the local islands, and there is a square and garden named after Orson Welles, who made the movie, “Othello” here and spent many months )years?) painting the area as well. It is one of North Africa's most attractive venues and soon we find ourselves slipping into its easy-going rhythm, glad of the escape from frenetic markets. The fishing port, filled with indigo blue and aqua painted boats, is a serious commercial operation and it was fun to observe the daily catch and its subsequent auction. Elsewhere there are numerous shops and several fine art galleries along with a wide variety of restaurants.
We visited the fort where canons still poke through the ramparts, on to a magnificent view of the ocean and rocks beyond; walked along the extensive wall, where the arched armaments store rooms now house woodwork, saw the most astounding overlaid woodwork table that took the cabinet maker 6 months of his life; and caught the sun on our shoulders due to the wide French designed streets.
A quick snooze on the calm beach and it was time for dinner. We had our best meal here, at a waterfront restaurant, great service and wine, for the princely sum of about $35AUD, by far the most expensive yet. I even tried Sea Urchin for the first time and was suitably impressed with its flavour.
Today is a bit of a lay day – I intend to look at the galleries to see what the state of art is here, which is supposed to be the centre of painting for Morocco. I’ll also catch the fish auction and eat at one of the best local restaurants, Elizirs, full of 60’s memorabilia and, from what I saw when making the reservation, some decent art.