Essaouira: An Untouched Moroccan Port

Essaouira (الصويرة‎) is a small fishing port town in Morocco that is largely untouched by tourists… mostly because of its characteristic wind and overcast skies—exactly what you fantasize about in the midst of winter. Oh, it isn’t? I’m going to continue as if it is. Some of these photos do look like they’re taken in a dry, hot, sunny place that happens to be simultaneously overcast and gloomy, but don’t let Photoshop fool you. I played around with extreme editing settings just to spice things up a bit.

Not much happened in this small little town, so this will be mostly be a photoessay.
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Essaouira
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Essaouira Other than the seafood, the most surprising thing about this town is that a UNESCO site is tucked neatly away somewhere! I say hidden because it’s too easy to stumble right into it without discerning that it was labeled a special part of the city: the Medina.

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There were some parts that were decidedly European… like this cafe below. It was weird and felt like I was stepping in and out of two countries. Essaouira has been in and out of many European hands, though, because it’s so close to the Spanish and Portuguese borders, just across the little gulf.

I also kept feeling throughout the visit that this was quite a large town for such a small population—where were the people?! Was I in a zombie apocalypse movie and the only people who remain are ones directly related to the tourist industry?
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IMG_7687 Oh, and the fort. Don’t forget the fort otherwise you’ll be done with this town in half a day! As you walk around the town, you’ll notice many cannons lining random streets. If you follow them, you’ll find yourself in the fort, which overlooks the sea and part of the harbor.

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IMG_7751 In addition to the typical corridors lined with vendors, you can walk through a looming archway onto the fishing dock itself! I probably don’t have to mention it, but in case you didn’t suspect, it smells like fish here. Remember when I said it was a zombie apocalypse because no one was in the city? Wrong, they’re just all down by the port. Down by the sea, as Helena Bonham Carter would sing wistfully. Here, it’s bustling with all kinds of fishing activity. There are people holding fish, people looking at fish, people transporting fish, people displaying fish, people talking about fish—you get the gist.

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IMG_7669 After touring and smelling the delicious dying breaths of all these fish, we decided to go and have some at the nearby restaurants sitting right outside the port exit. Knowing that these were probably overpriced, we did it anyways. Sometimes, it’s just too exhausting to try and find local places—and even there, sometimes you get ripped off. It’s just the way Morocco is.
IMG_7674 I do know, however, that if you walk inland a bit while stalking a local here and there, you may be able to find the one tucked in the Medina. But don’t just stalk a local because 50% of the time, that would turn out badly. I said nothing. Here, instead of the scarce plates lined up for us near the port, they had heaping piles of seafood and only for 1/3 of the price! I would have photos if I hadn’t died from delight. And photos of highly-populated local areas are a little iffy to navigate since Moroccans tend not to like their photos taken. Unlike the tourist-geared seafood restaurant, these came loaded with a lot of side dishes as well! Man, we tourists are missing out in Morocco! If you make a Moroccan friend that you trust, have them show you around because the local experience is so different than the tourist one.

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IMG_7778Although it technically wasn’t the beach getaway that I had imagined, I had a pretty good time of it.

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Essaouira

Have you ever been somewhere that didn’t turn out to be what you thought it’d be? Where?

Welcome to this week’s Travel Tuesday linkup with A Compass Rose!

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For this week’s Travel Tuesday, I’ve chosen to highlight Marianne of Californienne and post Nantes, Following the Green Line! As a hazard-prone traveler, especially when operation of vehicles are involved, I’m all about those cities you can explore by foot. It’s a better way to gain knowledge of a city’s layout and just to get to know the city itself! Also, anything that makes me feel like I’m on a scavenger hunt or on to solve the next greatest mystery is a plus!

Also, I’m here to announce next week’s Travel Tuesday themeLocal legends | The urban myths and stories you have come upon while traveling, in your expat, life, or ones from your hometown.

Ready to link up? Let’s get to it!

Here’s how it works:

1. Share a post about travel!  From roadtrips to trips abroad and from past travels to dream vacations.  You can write about travel tips and tricks, favorite places to stay or anything in between! Just make it about traveling somewhere!

2.  Grab the lovely button and link back to your lovely hosts: me, Marcella, Amanda, and Caity

3. Linkup goes live! Every Tuesday at 8 am GMT.

4.  Hop around and meet new travel loving bloggers! Link up will be open for a few days, make sure to check back to visit some of the newer travel posts!</

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  • http://www.thriftygypsytravels.com Katrina Elisabet

    Sadly, I’ve not been enough places (yet) to go somewhere I thought was one thing but turned out to be another. Except for the one time we ended up walking through the red light district in Nuremberg. That sort of counts! Anyway, I’ve actually heard about the Medina before, but didn’t realize that it wasn’t close to a lot of other tourist attractions.

    • http://mishfish13.com/ Michelle @ Mishfish13

      Aww, Nuremberg! How was the visit though (other than accidentally walking through the red light district, haha!)? I always talk to bloggers and realize how few places I’ve been or even been interested in going to!

  • http://snowintromso.com/ Van @ Snow in Tromso

    I was slightly disappointed by the North Cape…..after all it’s just a rock and that’s it :D I did enjoy the trip to get there though so it wasn’t that bad ;)

    • http://mishfish13.com/ Michelle @ Mishfish13

      Hahaha! It’s strange how often rocks are the main attraction somewhere… :p but I’m glad you enjoyed the overall trip :)

  • http://www.whatupswags.blogspot.com/ Christy Swagerty

    Great photos – your perspective of your trip is so adorable (and the photos add to that, too)! I love reading this as I leave for Morocco on Thursday! Not going to Essaouira this time around, but I’m know your tips will still come in handy! And I can’t wait to take pictures of the colorful wares! Thanks for sharing!

    • http://mishfish13.com/ Michelle @ Mishfish13

      Thanks, Christy! :) You’re going to have so much fun in Morocco! The cities and culture there is so vibrant I couldn’t help but get swept away in it all! Enjoy yourself!! :)))

  • http://www.throughthethicket.ca/ Kathryn

    This looks beautiful – in its own way – even if it wasn’t what you were expecting. Sometimes those kinds of trips end up being the best kind and they can be quite humbling in a wonderful way.

    I can’t get over those beautiful spice pyramids! Or at least I think that’s what they are. Wow.

    x Kathryn
    Through the Thicket

    • http://mishfish13.com/ Michelle @ Mishfish13

      Definitely. I never have regrets about going anywhere regardless of how it ended up :) Yup! They’re spice pyramids. I always wonder how they get it so perfectly shaped. Thanks, Kathryn :)

  • http://www.somethingsaturdays.com/the-blog.html Elizabeth @Something Saturdays

    Wow, I had a completely different image in my head of Essaouira! We went to Marrakech a couple of years ago (and loved it!), and said that we’d like to go back to see more of Moroccco, one of the places being Essaouira.

    • http://mishfish13.com/ Michelle @ Mishfish13

      I did the same thing! I visited Morocco once at the beginning of my backpacking trip and had to end my trip there with a second visit because I didn’t get enough of it! You should go back to check it out :)

  • http://agirlandhertravels.com/ Polly

    Wow, for a small town there’s so much there to explore!

  • http://www.clemandmarcella.wordpress.com/ Marcella ~ WhatAWonderfulWorld

    You managed to still make a place, where not much happened, look very beautiful. Lovely pictures – love the vibrant colours of the market and that green dress is a beaut :D

    • http://mishfish13.com/ Michelle @ Mishfish13

      Aw, thanks Marcella :) It was all the town—I could hardly make it more beautiful than it was haha

  • http://thetravellinglindfields.blogspot.com.au/ thetravellinglindfields

    I would love to go to Morocco. It looks so fascinating. Sometimes the quiet places which you don’t expect much of turn out to be hidden gems. #traveltuesday

    • http://mishfish13.com/ Michelle @ Mishfish13

      I agree! It’s places where you don’t have expectations that turn out the best, usually! :)

  • http://www.routebliss.com/ Christina McCall

    I love this little town, especially that market and all the colors! There’s been quite a few places I’ve stopped at along the way that weren’t what I expected (good and bad), but my brain’s pounding so bad tonight that I can’t name one right off the top of my head!

    • http://mishfish13.com/ Michelle @ Mishfish13

      Haha, no pressure! Thanks, Christina! I love the vibrancy of Morocco in general :)

  • http://abbyroads.com/ Abby | abbyroads.com

    I gotta say that despite your proclamation that the weather wasnt the best, your pictures depict a really neat experience all the same! I love the ones of the medina. And the food of course. When I visited Stonehenge for the first time, I definitely had a feeling of deflation – wasnt quite what I thought it’d be and didnt live up to the hype I had created in my mind. Amazing all the same though!

    • http://mishfish13.com/ Michelle @ Mishfish13

      Yeah, it reminds me of some moors or something! Pretty cool ambience while I was visiting. In the evening, the fog got so bad that I could only see a few feet in front of me, which was awesome since I love fog! I was trying to decide on whether or not to see Stonehenge and in the end, it was too far from where I was visiting anyways haha

  • http://www.adifferentpieceofsky.com Sara

    It’s so weird when you’re expecting more people to be out and about and it feels like you’re the only one. Like am I missing something?! That being said, I’d much rather have less tourists than hordes of them ;) I hear so many mixed things about Morocco but it looks like such a unique, interesting place to visit!

    • http://mishfish13.com/ Michelle @ Mishfish13

      Yeah, exactly! Is there some government experiment going on here and I wasn’t notified?! I do have to agree though, rather have an empty town all to myself rather than feeling like I was at a music festival or something! I say you should check it out with a group of friends!

  • http://www.twofeet-oneworld.com/ Jessi @2feet1world

    Beautiful photographs – I particularly love your port shots!

    • http://mishfish13.com/ Michelle @ Mishfish13

      Thanks, Jessi :)

  • http://www.deutsch-bitte.net/ Natalye

    Oh wow, looks awesome. I come from Northern California, where the coast is overcast and gray a lot too, so I love the hazy days along the water. Looks like it was a really great destination, if only because of less tourists… but if you ask me, it still looks beautiful.

    • http://mishfish13.com/ Michelle @ Mishfish13

      Yeah, I loved the feel of the place while I was there. Very serene and calming. Thanks, Natalye!

  • http://www.californienne.com/ Marianne

    Hay thanks for mentioning my post!

    This trip looks absolutely beautiful. I’m all about the places like this that are totally off the general tourist path. I’ve definitely been places that weren’t what I expected them to be, but I don’t think I’ve ever been truly disappointed about any certain place.

    • http://mishfish13.com/ Michelle @ Mishfish13

      No problem, Marianne :) Yeah, and countries that are generally off the map, too. It’s like stumbling onto a playground and having all these treasures to yourself! :) I agree, traveling in general can’t be a disappointment. After all–you’re in a place completely new to you!

  • http://www.crumbsinthebed.com/ Kerri

    I can’t decide if Morocco is a place I want to go, it gives me the eeby jeebies, whenever I read about it. I’m not a big fan of places where tourists are so heavily preyed on by the locals. Although, all that fish did look good.

    Also photos, too notch.

    • http://mishfish13.com/ Michelle @ Mishfish13

      Hahaha, I can see that. Yeah, I generally hate places where touting is really overwhelming (I experienced this in Barcelona as well), or where the locals are too dependent on tourism to make a living. The key is probably to ignore everything and treat it as a cultural experience. I didn’t experience any physical harassment, but there was more verbal things thrown at you than any other country.

      Thanks, looks like my “photo challenge” is going well? ;)

      • http://www.crumbsinthebed.com/ Kerri

        I just wish they wouldn’t look so angry when you want to take photos and they just happen to get in the frame… I’m never sure when I can take photos of things like that.

        I thought this week of the photo challenge was meant to suck?

  • http://www.simplysaratravel.com/ Sara

    Lovely photos! And that seafood- wow! I felt like from my time in Morocco, it was harder than most places to avoid the touristy restaurants and find where the locals eat. We went on a food tour in Marrakesh which was really great, and the closest thing to us having friends in Morocco show us the local hang-outs. I agree that it is great to be able to have a local show you a more authentic experience!

    • http://mishfish13.com/ Michelle @ Mishfish13

      Yeah, for sure. Especially in very popular places like Djemaa, which none are visited by locals. I did happen upon a small sport within the Souk, though, that had a bunch of locals gathered around—but I was too scared of getting lost!

  • http://www.laurenonlocation.com laurenonlocation

    I love finding places that are ‘untouched’ by tourists! Always the best finds! Trying to get the locals experience is what it’s all about! Oh- and that fish looks BOMB

  • http://dianadegzz.blogspot.com/ Diana

    Your photos are lovely, make me want to visit morocco!

    • http://mishfish13.com/ Michelle @ Mishfish13

      Thanks, Diana!

  • http://www.world-walk-about.com/ Andrea Sherrodd

    Beautiful! Being from the PNW I have a special place in my heart for overcast beaches, so they look perfect to me :)

    • http://mishfish13.com/ Michelle @ Mishfish13

      I haven’t been to the PNW yet, but I’m making it my goal sometime this year!! Thanks, Andrea :)